Why We Instagram Our Food

As I write this, Instagram’s search tells me there are over 182 million photographs tagged as food on the mobile social photo network. I’m not sure how this ranks overall in terms of popularity, but I checked sunset and it’s lagging far behind; right now it’s just shy of 60 million images.

What compels us to share images of our hamburgers, our salads, and our biscuits and gravy?

It’s about shared experiences.

We all bring our different world views; our lives have been shaped by a variety of economic, religious, social, political, educational, and other factors.

But everybody eats. If you’re the type with a smartphone, you likely have the means to eat a few meals every day. Everyone can relate to food, regardless of their background. We see images of food and we often see images of comfort. We’re reminded of a pleasant meal in the past, or excited by the idea of trying a similar dish in the future. Familiar dishes trigger memories while new recipes pique our curiosity.

For those sharing food with others nearby, Instagram food photos provide social proof for that local restaurant we’ve been meaning to try. We see a plate of good-looking edibles and are reminded to visit.

By all means, keep sharing other work on Instagram. I post a wide variety on my account. But instead of dismissing all the food photos as cliché, acknowledge why we all do it: everyone can relate to food on a very personal level.