Table Manners in the Age Of Oversharing

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Table Manners in the Age Of Oversharing

Social media has changed the way we eat - now it's all about sharing your food. online

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Published: Wed 18 Nov 2015, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 20 Nov 2015, 12:33 PM

Every tummy around the table rumbles in hunger and in anticipation of meals that have been expertly prepared by gifted chefs. The food finally arrives. The salivation kicks into high gear. The dishes are artfully presented and the smells whet ravenous appetites. Everyone is dying to tuck in. As the husband reaches for his fork, the wife kindly smiles at him and asks, "Can we pause for a moment?" She reaches for her iPhone.

When BBC World Service called me from London to discuss how dining has become a much different experience in the era of social media, I was excited, as I have first-hand knowledge of all sides of this debate.

Social media has, in every way, changed the way we eat and savour food. My own husband enjoys the experience of eating food by immediately tasting it. He wants to partake of his dishes while they are at their optimal freshness. The chef in him knows that food is to be eaten the moment it is placed on the table. He hates cold food and thinks it is an offence to the chef to let your food go cold at the table. On the other hand, the food photographer, blogger and Instagrammer in me just needs to capture the spread in a photograph. I, too, hate cold food, but as my business and personal interests in social media have grown, so has my need to savour first by capturing the moment. Sharing is caring!
We represent the three sides of this debate.
The first side is that of the click-happy social media butterfly. The second is that of the chef wanting his/her food to be enjoyed at the peak of its perfection. The third and final one takes somewhat of a middle ground: click and share, but do so quickly and inconspicuously.
We know that even though restaurants thrive on people sharing pics of their food online, pausing too long to take photographs slows down service and the speed at which restaurants can turn tables, which affects profits in smaller places that do not have the space to allow only one profitable seating for the night.
Plus, if you have ever gone out for a quiet and romantic dinner or a serious deal-making business lunch, the last thing you need is some inconsiderate person pulling out the camera at the table and firing away, using the flash, or standing on chairs trying to get a better angle for Instagram!
It's even worse when the meal in question is breakfast. After all, who wants cold coffee or tea because someone else needs a better picture? We all wake up hungry. Sitting there watching your eggs and toast get cold before your eyes is the last thing you need.
But if you love Instagram (er, like me), you will appreciate, like and even comment on a great #onthetable shot when you see one!
That said, if we are to really be social around our dining partners, we have to be considerate. It's nice to have tons of followers and social media 'friends', but you cannot replace the people who show up to be with you in person.

Dine and Dish

According to US-based infographics and data visualisation company Column Five Media, 25 per cent of social media users like to photograph their food on a routine basis, and 16 per cent like to do it for a special occasion or event

Foodstagramming etiquette & TIPS

  • Ask your dining partners if they are okay with you taking shots, before you start clicking away.
  • Ask for permission before grabbing people's plates and shooting them.
  • Take photos quickly at the table when dining out. Snap two-three shots and then, dig in!
  • Leave the photo editing and posting to social media until after dinner. All those hashtags take time! It is not nice to ignore your dining partners.
  • Link your Instagram to your Twitter and Facebook so that you can post to all three platforms simultaneously.
  • Tag me @chefand?steward on your Instagram, Snapchat, FB and Twitter food pics as well, so that we social media foodies can unite!
  • Tag the restaurants too, so that they can get a little exposure and you stand the chance of being reposted and earning more followers.
  • Unless you are dining with a bunch of social media junkies, quit trying to send Snapchat videos with you talking into the camera while your dining partners are trying to eat in peace.

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