Yesterday I sat in front of my computer scarfing down a lunch of two leftover shrimp, brown rice and half a stale bagel with smashed avocado while reading my Facebook feed and scanning food blogs for dinner ideas. That’s when it hit me. The Internet has changed the way I eat. Given that menu I just described, you’re probably thinking, “Uh, not for the better.” And it’s true. Not so long ago I made it a point to walk away from my desk at lunch time — to go to a restaurant and find out in person what my friends were up to or get take-out from the toniest food truck in my ‘hood.
But lately, I’m more apt to throw something together from the stuff in my fridge that isn’t yet moldy and eat it while I “socialize” online. And I’m not alone.
All that facebooking, linking in, tweeting and instragramming has messed with the way many of us eat, according to The Hartman Group’s “Clicks & Cravings: The Impact of Social Technology on Food” report. We once listened to our mothers: We cooked family recipes and ate together at the table. Now, we’re getting recipes and techniques from strangers on TV or online. Sitting at a table? Hardly. Dining with family and friends? Rarely.
That said, the nostalgia for things past — like traditional restaurant experiences — hasn’t faded to black. There has been all kinds of talk about going back to our food past in recent years, Paleo dieting, eating like your ancestors. I recently scanned (while eating my lunch, of course) a brief called “Generations Y and Z Still Value Traditional Media,” a report from trend-tracking firm The Cassandra Report, which shows younger generations raised on digital media still prefer analog media. They dig print magazines more than digital, devour physical books over e-books, and are discovering the tangible delights of vinyl records and cassette tapes. If they like the analog media of previous generations, there is a good chance they might be interested in dining out like them, too.
What I’m saying is, I don’t think you should sit back and take it. Fight back on the cutting back. Give us something we can’t get sitting in front of the catatonia-inducing blue glow of a screen: stellar food and a memorable dining experience with real people.
Then perhaps promote it on social media because, frankly, that’s where you’ll find me at lunch time.