I routinely fail to fully decipher the things that people post on Facebook, and the statuses that consistently beg for additional interpretation are the ones about what we’re eating. Perhaps it’s just because I see the world through the lens of my own historically troubled, guilt-ridden relationship to food, but I think that something else always underlies these food statuses – something that has little to do with keeping all of our friends abreast of what we are eating.
I think it’s because food connects to multiple arenas of our lives like nothing else – something as simple as what food a person eats or doesn’t eat can offer a wealth of information about his or her lifestyle, priorities, habits and health. Just think of what you can infer about someone who refuses veal or foie gras, or wheat, or who insists on organic produce. We don’t assume people are making these choices – and broadcasting them to all present (and by “all present” I mean everyone on the internet) – merely because they prefer the taste of beef, brown-rice tortillas or pesticide-free mushrooms and believe you will find this preference interesting.
So I think Facebook statuses about food often aren’t about food at all. Instead, they’re handy signals for lifestyle choices that we want others to know about, from fitness and dieting to travel, culinary skills and eco-consciousness.
True, some of these statuses are probably just due to sheer joy in life. But, for example, I notice that while announcements about muffins are fairly common in my news feed, very few people in my news feed are simply announcing that they had a great muffin. It seems crucial that they emphasize a certain quality of the muffin, and what that implies about their lifestyle.
Let’s get to it. Did I mention that I’ll be asking you to participate?
Take, for example, two statuses I noticed in the last several weeks:
“Breakfast – vegan key lime coconut cupcake” and “vegan blueberry walnut coconut muffins for breakfast coming right up”.
What are these statuses trying to say?
Now try this one.
Try this one: “I thought that I was completely out of produce, but behold! I found a slightly wilted bunch of kale in my fridge! I shall resurrect this kale, and then I shall eat it! With butter and garlic. =D”
I hope you didn’t think that I was polling you because I have the right answers. I don’t. Like you, I can only guess, and I want to see if I’m alone in my guesses. Perhaps, in your view, I’ve gotten them horribly wrong. Feel free to chime in with your own.
Last but not least, many thanks to the friends whose statuses I hijacked. I love you guys (and our food quirks)!