Picture this: I’m meeting some friends for brunch on a typical Sunday morning. I order an acai smoothie bowl and a matcha latte.
What happens when the waitress brings across our order? My hand reaches for my iPhone, opens Instagram and I’m being absorbed into my online journal, also known as my Instagram Story. After a quick edit and a location tag – because no one has time to be elusive these days – I admire my perfectly filtered photograph starring the components of my brunch on an oh-so-edgy tarnished wooden table. A second later it is posted for the whole world to see.
What actually is the purpose of this post? Who knows and really, who cares. But who needs to care? It’ll be gone within 24 hours anyway.
Since 2010, 208 million posts have been shared on Instagram with the ‘food’ hashtag. The majority of these are nothing more than a fairly standard plate of food which has been greatly improved by some good lighting and careful editing.
The current mentality seems to be that if it’s not posted on Instagram, it didn’t happen.
On the other hand, the app that went live in 2010, provides a platform for restaurant brands to engage and adjust to the growth of social media and its consumers. With its 600 million active users, Instagram has become a drawing board for foodies, creating a bible for potential food and drink hotspots with the addition of the location sticker. If clicked on by the consumer, this could earn more revenue for the brand and provide the user with the ability to see live events from a chosen location.
What makes Instagram unique is that it has the ability to hold more worthy photographs in comparison to an average foodie website. This is because of you, the user and consumer. People love food photography because people simply love to look at food, and if there is a personality behind the visual, it immediately becomes more relatable. Due to increased popularity of international food culture, more users are willing to try different cuisines than ever before, as they have previously ‘seen it on Instagram’ and therefore, it is familiar.
Standing on your chair to capture the aerial view of your food and drinks is something I must admit is out with my boundaries. However, if you think that your meal is worthy of an Instagram upload, then surely that’s hats off to the chef! I’m not saying that my acai smoothie bowl was remotely average, I mean, it still made it to the gram. However, I am greatly aware of the danger of total addiction to an edited and, to an extent, false view of the world, which makes reality look boring in comparison.
Equally, the popularity of Instagram has certainly had some negative impacts. It has created a competitive marketplace for restaurants, as they now have to adapt to being ‘Instagrammable’ by featuring tables, chairs, cutlery, dishes and other interior that simply are photographs waiting to happen. The pressure behind the app can also force brands into creating new recipes for the sole purpose of becoming a strong Instagram trend, which means the app is costing restaurants extra money as they are giving into the 21st century #foodporn craze.
Whether you choose to believe it or not, Instagram is addictive. The aspiration to achieve some social gratification from a post that features last night’s dinner leaves you on a cliff hanger as you wait patiently for those likes and views to rake up. But what this vulnerability can also question is: does the food we photograph actually taste as good as it looks, or is it all just an irrelevant false illusion?
The answer comes down to a matter of opinion, but one thing is for certain – Instagram is fed by our love of food.