How often do you take pictures of your food for Snapchat or Instagram? How often have you looked for just the right angle to capture the essence of your strawberry acai bowl or minimalist meal of salad? The answer for many teens today is most likely: "Whenever I have the chance." With social media hashtags exploding at unimaginable rates, strange food trends grow at disproportionate numbers. From bubble teas to nitrogen ice cream to heart-stopping cotton candy-ice cream milkshakes, these desserts are now food for cameras rather than foods for us.
This habit first emerged when food magazines and other entertainment corporations, such as Food Network and Bon Appetite, started to embrace the new "individualism movement" by incorporating dishes from various cultures as a symbol of diversity. Aspiring journalists clambered to create their own visionary food project that not only made meals look appetizing but also "up-to-date." Whatever fit the current trend became an instant hit. Soon, the ability to make food into art became a major industry.
However, the publication of food for profit has removed the authenticity of how delicacies are enjoyed and prepared. People are now more concerned with capturing a new snap rather than savoring the taste. As a result, ridiculous "hipster" trends — galaxy bagels, ramen burgers or sushi burritos — take the world by storm, and teens are sucked into the visual rewards of food rather than those of sustenance.
In restaurants, meaningful conversation is replaced with flashing camera lights and new ideas for captions. On social media, thousands of accounts pop up on Instagram showcasing these creations, and these trends become more voracious with each post. Even on YouTube, mukbang videos in which people film themselves eating a very large portion of food have surged to trending status.
No doubt, I have also fallen victim to these habits, constantly searching up the most "Instagrammable" desserts whenever I visit new cities. I also occasionally indulge myself with mukbang videos when I'm hungry late at night. In essence, they can be therapeutic in moderation. However, taking pictures has become more a chore than a pleasure, and the pressure set by these companies to share food art creates unhealthy obligations for teens everywhere.
Thus, these companies and social media pages, while praised for their attempts to address diversity, shed negative light on American culture regarding food. Sadly, most people are too distracted by pictures of overloaded desserts to even realize the problem.