I read the wonderful Andrew Jefford's latest column for us with typical delight – but also a wry smile on my face at his gentle disdain for sharing restaurant dish and wine bottle photos on social media.
Read Andrew Jefford's article here
I couldn't disagree more – well, as a social media manager, I suppose I would say that, wouldn't I? – but I'd like to explain why.
As one of those pesky millenials, sharing my food and wine choices on social media is as second nature to me as spending too much money on avocado toast and complaining about house prices (in fact, according to a recent poll, 41% of us post restaurant photos on social media). And in my day-to-day job managing The Society's social media, I get to see dozens and dozens of our members' food and wine photos shared with us every week.
There's one thing that unites them all: joy. No one posts photos of a cremated roast chicken or a pricey bottle of Bordeaux that didn't live up to expectations. We're all sharing wonderful moments in our lives – memorable nights out or special meals with loved ones – and who among us would turn down a little more joy in our lives? Even if it's experienced vicariously through others' photos while wolfing down a disappointing plate of beans on toast.
As well as sharing the joy (and putting the 'social' in social media), these photos can be a valuable source of inspiration for your next foodie forays. I'm not talking about the worrying trend of Instagram influencers who are apparently 'changing the way we eat', causing restaurants to design the food around their photographic potential instead of flavour, but rather real people sharing authentic (and unpaid for) experiences. Whether as part of my job interacting with members or via my personal profiles, I've lost count of the amount of times I've been inspired to try a new dish I've seen on Instagram, splash out on a wine getting rave reviews on Twitter or plan a holiday to a destination members have recommended on The Community.
These posts give even beginners the confidence to explore more boldly – and there's an added layer of warm fuzzies when you find a new favourite and share your thanks with the original poster. And if you think that feels good, just imagine how the winemaker, restaurant owner or recipe writer feels when they see someone enjoying their creations? In its own way, these photos are promoting small businesses and helping them to be discovered by new audiences.
My family's Italian heritage put food at the forefront of life's most precious memories. As someone who loves food, seeing your fantastic bottle of anniversary wine or Instagrammable restaurant outing is lovely in the same way that photos of your graduation, wedding or adorable pets are. And these photographic memories are important – as well as helping you relive how a once-in-a-lifetime holiday dish tasted and smelled, prompting you to revisit a recipe you'd forgotten about, or reminding you of a special meal lovingly prepared by a friend, they make food into something far more than sustenance: they feed the soul, too.
And after all, taking a snap of your meal won't do anyone any harm – just don't let your dinner go cold.