Wherever you look, whatever you see, social media has had an effect on it, and food is no different. In fact, it is a standout example.
Food is a social activity and since the advent of social media, food photography, food blogging, recipes, the rise of the celebrity chef, the spoofs, the huge volume of content has delivered some specific observations of the online environment and our passion about food. Taking photos and posting on social media of us eating food is second to the traditional selfie!
Food drives content on excessive dieting, health, nutrition and wellbeing that now dominates online forums, and social media is having a huge impact on purchasing choice of FMCG products.
Food and social media now define many:
- Recipe blogs emphasize pleasure and indulgence
- Shared recipes and dining experiences indicate social status
- Excessive eating while talking to a YouTube camera has created a whole new form of celebrity in Korea and the USA
- Testing hot food or sauces is another world-wide sport, including in Australia
The phrase “tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are” have added a layer of insight and complexity into social media’s relationship with food.
Dangerous aspects of the dark corners of social media have come to light. An obsession with “thinspiration” has emerged, which is effectively about sharing eating disorder tips and tricks. At the same time there has been a massive increase in hospital admissions for eating disorders in the UK alone.
It is important to note that social media is not a singular thing. The biological aspect of food has come under the spotlight: food processing, distribution and animal slaughter have all hit the headlines.
Product recalls have seriously damaged FMCG brands, from Nestle (palm oil) to more lately seemingly innocent Nanna’s frozen berries Hepatitis A scare. Social media goes into a spin over these issues.
One thing is glaringly obvious; that social meaning and metaphors for food now determine what type of food equals social acceptance. Metaphors regarding food are associated with respect and socialising.
The digitisation of our society, with constant connectivity and the advent of smartphones, has led to a transformation in our attitudes to food – our food culture is now digitised.