Why do we like foodporn?
Sharing images of meals and coffees is something most social media users are accustomed to. When Cook asked her audience who was guilty of posting so-called “foodporn” online, about half raised their hands. But why do they do it?
According to Cook, pictures of food are “oozing and creamy and easy to like”. They have become a way of sharing something personal that also allows users to make images public and not worry too much about privacy or oversharing.
She said: “Oversharing is not just a privacy issue but also a source of conflict in groups”. Posting images of food without other people in the frame is a way to avoid any unpleasant conversations about revealing too much detail online about your real-world social dynamics.
There is no need to worry about who can see these pictures. “It’s personal and public at the same time”, she explained. Pictures of food posted online can also become precious memories as time passes.
There has recently been a backlash against foodporn, with more and more internet users choosing to post pictures of not very attractive dishes or cooking experiments. Cook pointed out the “shittyfoodporn” subsection on popular discussion platform reddit where people can post images of recipes that didn’t go quite as planned, or less attractive foodstuffs.
Despite the mockery, and a flurry of Instagram filters that sometimes blur the line between personal and commercial images of food, the foodporn phenomenon may yet have a promising future.
Vine, launched by Twitter earlier this year, allows users to capture short videos and share them online and has added a new twist to the potential interest level of food images. Cook pointed out that far from being a case of “look at my sushi for six seconds”, foodporn on the Vine app allows more focus on the process of cooking and food preparation, rather than simply celebrating the final result.
Cook quoted Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as saying that in 10 years’ time, we will be sharing a thousand times more than we do today. With this in mind, foodporn may well become more complex and develop in ways we may not have expected when our news feeds were first invaded by Instagrammed lattes.