In the past, ethnicity and family traditions dictated the foods we prepared; we bought our groceries at a neighborhood store; we learned our recipes from “mom” or a cookbook; and we ate our meals together around a table. In contrast, today social media introduces us to new tastes, cuisines and possibilities; we source food via multiple channels including restaurants and online, often basing our decisions on the recommendations of friends; we learn recipes and techniques from TV shows, websites, blogs and online videos; and it is normal to eat with computers, phones, televisions and, increasingly, alone and often without a table.
That is from the executive summary of Clicks & Cravings: The Impact of Social Technology on Food Culture, a new research study from the Hartman Group. It’s worth a look because:
- It’s a focused snapshot of how the very uses of social media that we most eagerly embrace — like integrating it into our passions, hobbies and meals — are also the uses that can most profoundly disrupt crucial social ties and relationships. Calling my mom for her advice on whatever I’m cooking remains one of our strongest ways of connecting; it’s the one place where my desire for advice and my mom’s desire to be heeded consistently align. Yes, I consult Epicurious, but if I listened to Epicurious users instead of my mom, I’d have to give my mom absolute authority over some other aspect of my life, like how I dress. (Hello, ankle-length skirts!)
- It demonstrates the value of focusing social media research on a narrow slice of culture change. As social media permeates more and more of our work and personal lives, big-picture, across-the-board analyses must be complemented by targeted investigations of specific areas of social media’s impact.
- Food is good. Social media is good. Food + social media? Delicious.