Why do we tweet what we eat?

Pastrami on ryeWhenever talking about social stuff I’m often delivered the same statement when it comes to micro-blogging platforms.

“I haven’t got time for that. It’s just people tweeting their food.”

There is often a tone of distain in the voice.  As if the complainant logged into Twitter, was tied to a chair and forced to look at sandwich after sandwich, cake after cake, snack after snack.  Unable to avert their gaze.

Warning: There is a whole internet out there. You will come across people sharing their food. Sometimes worse…  Their kids.

Perhaps those adverse to seeing food in the timeline have become fed up of seeing the same connections on Facebook repeat the same behaviour.  They forget they can mute, unfollow block or look away.

Then they head over to try Twitter and the first iced bun that hits the feed triggers suppressed anger.

The real issue here is filter failure. You can use unfollow and lists.  Or maybe not follow and add to lists.  When I really want to filter though, I do it by simply not looking.

generic food photoThere is often a deeper reason as to why people share.  I like to think sometimes I know what that is, and that’s why people fascinate me.  When I’m not certain why someone has shared something I don’t get angry at my lack of understanding.  I like to speculate what the story might be.

When you plug into someone’s feed, you’re plugging into a chunk of their mind, their life.  Of course there is some curation. We can’t help that at the moment.  It takes time to select the right app, compose a photo, caption it and share to a selected platform.

Sharing will get easier. Business models depend on it. A frictionless flow of data, sprinkled with dreams, our deepest desires. All being sold to those into selling,  so they know what it is we really want.  While we get what we need.  Human contact.

It’s currently a trade off for those that like to share indiscriminately.  I’m more than happy to donate a little data in exchange for these subconscious connections.  These moments in our lives, absorbed with a scroll, only to be reflected upon the next time we catch up in ‘Meat space’.

“Hi Hannah, you still vegetarian?  That looked like an epic mung bean salad last week?”

“Hi Mike, how’s the Dalek?”

If i’m eating pastrami on rye with low fat mayo I’m probably American, or in America. I’m not vegetarian, possibly wheat intolerant and maybe on a diet.

There is a wealth of information out there for the interested. Knowledge opens doors. Never underestimate the power of small talk. Rapport is how humans sync with one another. The foundation of effective communication.

And small talk leads to big talk.

Still, some folk manage to curate all personality out of their social sharing.  Desperate to look professional, witty, smart or hireable.  And that’s fine.

I feel though that if you want to nurture a meaningful network we have to connect as human beings.  With social networks built around common interests.

That’s why some Tweet what they eat.  We all eat.  I know I do.  Sometimes too much.

I’m not a food blogger.  I’m a blogger who loves lots of things.  Especially food and drink.  Meals punctuate my working day.  Even the humble sandwich is a canvases for creativity.  Drink, of the alcoholic variety, accompanies reflection at the end of said day.  It’s an occasional datum.  And to document this is to capture that moment and all it contains.  To remember how it was.

Capture that moment, because your memories won’t do it justice.  The moment the memory is recalled it’s corrupted.

Capture that moment because it tells a story.  And we are made of stories.


  1. says

    Final thought. We all get to live a life.. But how many care to document/narrate along the way?

    I remember reading something by Fernando Pessoa. An extract from The book of disquiet I think.

    “Direct experience is an evasion, or hiding place for those without any imagination…

    …To narrate is to create, while to live is merely to be lived.”

  2. Kim says

    The meaning of life is to discover the meaning of life and we do this through self-documentation – selfies, instagrams of food etc are all part of this. This isn’t much different from people making oil paintings of bowls of fruit, except more people now have the means of capturing their meal. It is annoying but like you say, you don’t have to look.

    • says

      There are so many ways to use twitter. I come into contact with avid twitter users who don’t even tweet. They just use it as a ‘stalking’ platform. They would never dream of sharing an image of what they were eating.

      • MrRocking says

        Exactly. Most frustrations come from passive use, expecting things to happen. You can actively converse, share, search. or filter to create the experience that best suits your needs.

  3. johnpopham says

    I hate the internet. It’s just full of @documentally:disqus posting stuff about what he eats

  4. says

    Great article; fascinating to see people using the internet to criticize the use of the internet (comments, in particular :)

    Some people don’t understand why the artist devotes himself to art; no reason to lessen the devotion.

  5. says

    I’m not sure if Never underestimate the power of small talk would be on my list. Small talk always feels like the super edited version you portray to others motivated by something other than wanting to be sincere. I also know that it’s part of breaking the ice when you start chatting to someone you’ve never met, so I’m not completely down on it, but the sooner the small talk is over, the better. It just feels uncomfortable.

    Someone spoke about Instagram at the Do Lectures, about it being a veneer of someones life and it made me want to start a new account, where I just take photo’s of me eating stale bread, sitting in my underpants (with holes in), on a broken chair (not vintage) typing this comment (on a pc), snapping a picture of my shitty day, bit by bit until a friend calls and asks if I’m ok. I wonder if that conversation would be small talk?

    I have to say, I prefer the memory to a photograph any day. On that note, if you haven’t already read it, Susan Sontag On Photography is brilliant and touches on this subject.

    • says

      If the smalltalk feels uncomfortable make it over. It’s designed to be a bridge. It can be a short or long as you like.
      If you did do that with your Instagram account, others would surely look for the hidden meaning. Or just call it art. Everything we share is a veneer of our life. Some thicker than others. We can never truly get to know the mind of others. IMO.