In an Instagram and viral video-era, purveyors of food must go bigger, bolder, or downright bizarre in order to get noticed. Long gone is the time of quiet eateries being noticed for their sumptuous or signature dishes and atmosphere. It’s now all about whether some culinary mash-up looks good with a Mayfair filter or is unusual enough to collect likes and comments on Facebook or Instagram.
Those photos and videos of rainbow-colored food or burger-and-pizza mash-ups don’t just attract customers to the brick-and-mortar establishment; they drive clicks and revenue for publishers, creating a death spiral of taste. And its lowest point yet is this video below, of a Swedish restaurant cooking fish with molten glass.
At time of writing, the glass fish video had already garnered around 4.5 million views—one reason why many publishers chose to “pivot to video” and why doing such heinous things to a piece of fish made good business acumen. Millennials, 18 to 24-year olds, are five times more likely to share photos of their food online than the over 55s. Eateries’ presence on these platforms is important to drawing in a younger crowd.
Now there’s nothing wrong with taking pictures of your food, nor is it wrong to push the envelope on new types of cuisine. It’s your own business if you want to risk eating shards of glass with your fish. But there’s a cost to approaching dinner like it’s a sideshow, because these fads are literally garbage.
Bigger, bolder, and brasher food is creating a generation of waste. That fish video is so practically unnecessary it seems like a joke (look at the energy and practical wastage left behind). If only there was a way to cook a fish that didn’t involve molten glass, you know, like baking, frying, or steaming. In terms of the food itself, millennials are likely to over order and throw away more food as they don’t understand the value of the food on their plates.
How many people would actually finish this pot of type II diabetes in a jar?
Ironically, the #InstaFood trend is driving us to poor taste—literally. We are passing over food that tastes good for the sake of a rainbow bagel. And eateries are learning to “jump the shark” to get their names out there, no matter what the social repercussions. One Brooklyn cafe in a gentrifying area, for example, tried to drum up attention by faking a backstory about bullet holes in the walls, calling itself the “most Instagrammable” in the area.
All this is part and parcel of a machine that we have helped to create, which drives digital media outlets to focus on vidiotic content. After all, nearly 5 million people just watched the most pointless way to cook a fish. Please, just make it stop.