[Originally published June 29, 2012.]
Dear People Who Take Pictures of Food With Instagram,
Just because the picture looks artsy doesn’t mean you are. I get it. We all went through our creative, experimental stages. There is a period in all of our lives where we think we can probably make money off our pseudo-artistic talent of choice. And now, you think you are a photographer because Instagram does the work for you. Do you have to focus anything? Do you have to worry about lighting? Do you have to think at all? Not really. You are part of a fast growing legion of people that have been duped into believing they are visionaries, auteurs, even.
“<3 <3 Gorgeous day for lunch outside <3 <3,” you post to the image of a set of railroad tracks behind a McDonald’s.
So now that you’re a professional photographer, you need to capture the simpler things in life. All of them. It is your duty as an artist, after all. And there is nothing simpler than your pretentious foodie excursions. You posted an Instagram-ed picture of a handful of blueberries the other day. What would your day have been without those blueberries? Would you have felt a little less connected to the earth and, ultimately, yourself? Would you have felt guilty about letting all of nature’s candy go to waste? Or perhaps the real question is this: how disappointed would you have felt if your beautiful, plump blueberries got less than 15 likes? It would have made blueberry picking pretty pointless, right? But no, you are popular and people like to feel earthy and spontaneous by livng vicariously through you and your blueberry-picking adventure. So people leave comments like, “Yummy. <3. Jealous!!!” And sadly the commenter is actually jealous and thinks that you are rustic and outdoorsy and simple, but in an old-timey Norman-Rockwell-America-is-really-great! way. You were creative enough to think of this super-fun activity, one that does not involve being cooped up inside, or drinking, or giving into any of the other demands of capitalist America. This makes you better than all of us. And this also gives you permission to take pictures of what you made for dinner.
And then you did.
“Avocado and lime marinated partridge medallions with coconut milk and ginger quinoa, slow baked paprika kale chips and hand cranked, blueberry crumble pie ice cream. YUM!”
That doesn’t even sound very good.
You proceed to take various angled shots of the avocado being sliced, the blueberries getting washed, and your bearded boyfriend plucking feathers from the partridges because the Farmer’s Market only sold them with feathers, because plucking out the feathers themselves would be too mean and they’re the nice kind of farmers who kill with love. And now that your meal looks professional and Alexandra Gaurnaschelli would approve of it (but Scott Conant would totally get the one piece of undercooked bird) there is a great final product shot taken, complete with two Coronas because you were feeling summery. “Ah, the good life,” you caption, wanting me to be simultaneously awed and intimidated by your domesticity. “This looks awesome! Wow!! You two are so cute!!!” writes jealous girl between drafts of her latest Game of Thrones fan fiction. That’s when you know you’ve done it: you are officially the greatest woman on the entire planet.
What happened to everyone complaining about how much they have to do today? Or the posting of emotionally ambiguous song lyrics? What happened to those? Where are all the bitches and sluts and why aren’t they hanging out in the club anymore? You used to merely use your words to let me know that YOU WERE HAVING A BAD DAY. But now all you do is flaunt how awesome you are, and expect me to leave a comment that confirms this fallacy.
I think it’s best, especially in the interest of honesty and my mounting rage, to tell you that no, no, I really, truly, absolutely, do not care about you or your food. I don’t. Sorry. Take more pictures of your cat. That might keep me interested.
By the way, your new apartment looks really cute!