Let’s face it; we are all guilty of technology addiction to some extent.
And on the whole, it’s not our fault. We are simply living in an age where technology is present at every step of our lives, from the home to the classroom to the street. We are bombarded with the ‘convenience’ of smartphones, high quality images and instantaneous entertainment.
Among the many merits of technological advancement, there remain some areas in which technology provides little benefit to the user, and can actually end up ruining certain experiences.
For us foodies, the technology struggle gets real when it comes to eating out. Has your meal even been ruined by one of these awkward dining situations?
You know exactly what to expect
Looking out for nearby restaurants? There’s an app for that. Want to know what quality of food you’ll find? There’s a site for that. Curious about the place’s worst review? Well, there’s no doubt it’ll give you a reason to dine elsewhere.
Yes, it’s convenient, but we have become so used to relying on these gadgets and reviews that we can barely leave the house without first having secure expectations about what the night holds.
Slowly but surely, we are losing the magic of discovery. We are presented with photos of the establishment and the food with explicit explanations about the service. Nothing is left to the imagination and the possibility of exploration and surprise becomes low.
In this TED talk, researchers show that much of our unhappiness stems from ‘expectations vs. reality’. Often, reality simply cannot live up to our expectations, leading to dissatisfaction.
So, isn’t it more fulfilling to avoid over-researching your dinner before you experience it yourself?
Wi-Fi is considered a real priority
Before noticing the décor or getting comfortable at a table, heads start craning, looking for some blackboard bearing the precious wifi password.
What for? So that we do not remain ‘disconnected’ while enjoying yummy food.
It has become so important to us that we may even shun a café or restaurant simply for not providing the luxury service of free internet.
But at what cost? Even for our most food-loving friends, a main reason for eating out is to strengthen interpersonal connections. Ironically, the constant presence of our phones is proved to do just the opposite. By staying plugged in at all times, our minds are simultaneously present and elsewhere, resulting in lower enjoyment of the event.
We’ve all been there. And we all secretly want someone to put a stop to it, which is why we find it cute to see a sign that says, ‘No Wi-Fi: Talk amongst yourselves!’, or why this restaurant in Beirut has become famous for offering a 10% discount to those who leave their phones with the staff during their meal. Genius!
Your enjoyment of the company and food will be improved if we ignore our phones. It’s just science!
Taste takes second place
When it comes to foodies and chefs, taste is key.
But in this world of Instagrammers, #foodporn and photo editing, we are taught to admire beautiful rather than tasty food. You are far more likely to get ‘likes’ for a plate of impressive and colourful snacks than if you gave a 5 star review of a dish which is visually unspectacular. Companies know this and focus on the aesthetics of the plate rather than improving the flavour.
On top of this, the flood of food images we flick through each day could be ruining our appetite. Researchers at BYU have shown that the more we look at pictures of food, the less appealing the real version becomes.
Therefore, paradoxically, when you snap pretty pictures of your food or follow those who do on social media, the actual taste suffers.
As for your restaurant experience, we all know how frustrating it can be to wait for your friends to capture the meal on camera before beginning, allowing the food to get cold and again favouring virtual rather than physical enjoyment of the event.
With this in mind, as long as we never forget the true value of taste, appreciating and taking photos of food can be a joy, and technology doesn’t have to be a hindrance.
If you let it, technology can mask your enjoyment of eating without you realising it. So, maybe it’s time to leave behind our gadgets and relish the adventure of cuisine!