Michelle Grady asks: are we too snap-happy at the dinner table?
I’m going to own up now: I have been known to take a snap or two of my food while eating out. And yes, I occasionally photograph dishes made by my own fair hands – but in my defence, I do this to celebrate rather than show off. Usually I’m so pleased I didn’t burn myself/the food/the house down that I want to keep a record of my all-too-rare culinary successes.
Yet while I only dabble in taking mealtime shots, it seems nowadays everyone and their cousin-twice-removed is a full-on food-paparazzo. I’ve heard friends lament that their Facebook news feeds are swamped with artsy pictures of morning lattes, and images of a ‘totes amaze’ lunch cooked by a girl they vaguely knew at school. And social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only culprits – there are a whole host of apps dedicated to sharing pictures of recently devoured bites and beverages, including Platter, Foodspotting (which has had over a million food photos uploaded in the past year) and SnapDish.
Our obsession with gathering pictorial records of what we eat isn’t new by any means – artists across the ages have featured many a meal in their works. It just so happens that rather than labouring over an easel and squinting at a bowl of fruit for months, we now have the technology to instantly broadcast our suppers, snacks and other edible indulgences into the online ether.
Yet all this web-based sharing-and-comparing begs the question: does this penchant for papping our every feast cloud the simple pleasure of tucking into a good meal? Well, it certainly pushes the boundaries of dining etiquette – after all, using a mobile phone at the table is an oft-bemoaned pet hate for many. Surely it won’t be long before the flow of dinner invites slows to a halt for these shutterbugs – a quick snap on your phone is one thing, but taking angle after angle while your dish (and conversation) goes cold could result in some very grumpy dining companions indeed.
Food takes a starring role in almost all events and celebrations, and as such is linked to our most treasured memories. Think back to your last holiday – chances are you can’t recall exactly what you did the third day into your break, but the quick pic you took at that quaint little side-street restaurant will surely jog your memory.
Although the fast-paced, addictive nature of social media perhaps means we are in danger of fixating on every available photo opportunity rather than simply enjoying our food, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting a keepsake to remind you of an evening’s dining with good company – just go easy on those artsy latte pictures.