Do you like my foodie photo on Facebook?
How Sharing Images Can Lead to Cosmic Dashes for Community
Joanna E S Campbell
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Yesterday, a friend in eastern Arkansas posted a photo of his fajitas on Facebook. His caption reads: “My Sunday night Mexican food addiction is getting out of control.” Then come the comments. One person is inspired while another questions the authenticity of the meal because French fries are involved in the mix. This leads to another comment: “Regional cooking adapts to new regions.”
The mouthwatering photo of peppers, chilies, and onions on a bed of fries sends me straight into the kitchen to create my own regional adaptation. I don’t have potatoes on hand, but I layer blue corn tortilla chips on my favorite plate and begin adding ingredients I find in the refrigerator and cupboard. I chop garlic, onions, and olives faster than I normally chop. I caramelize the onions and sauté the garlic as if I am on a competitive cooking show. I scoop dollops of fresh avocado and reheat the pinto beans Dennis made earlier in the week. It isn’t slow cooking, and I don’t linger over the cutting board or the pans. I move quickly because I don’t want to miss the culinary cyber-potluck happening on Facebook.
This is what seems to occur every day on social media. We love to create. We love to photograph our creations. And we love to share them before we put them in our bodies. What could be more vulnerable and intimate? Perhaps our flagrant display of creating and consuming food is our version of flower sex, which happens literally right under our noses on any piece of fertile ground on any given day. In Seattle, we’re entering the miniature beginnings of spring with bold clusters of snowdrops. The snowdrops are blooming from our church memorial garden, a place where ashes of our loved ones are buried with native plants and flowers. Yesterday, after church, I stood in a light rain with two fellow parishioners, and we admired the bell-shaped flowers rising from the ground holding our friends. We returned inside the sanctuary to continue visiting during the coffee-hour, complete with homemade cookies, chocolates, apple slices and aged cheddar. Back to fajitas and Facebook. Or rather, nachos.
As soon as I assemble my plateful of gourmet nachos, there is no doubting the need to photograph my meal. This needs a little more oomph, I think, so I add a sprig of rosemary growing in our front yard. Voila! I post the photo on my friend’s page to show him how his photo stirred me into action. Dennis and I eat the nachos and lick our fingers after each bite. The hot sauce stings a little but not too much. I can’t help but periodically look at my smartphone to see what community may be forming around the foodie photos.
We need to share. We need to stay connected. Even with my satisfying dinner in the comfort of my home in a rain-soaked city, I want to be part of a larger community. On Sunday evening, this community is made possible, in part, by fiber optic cables and the creative genius of Steve Jobs. Who knew Jobs’ desire to translate calligraphy into pixels would lead to a radical armchair and coffee-shop revolution, wiping the slate clean for new imaginings about community and food. Nachos…nachos…
9-year-old niece: “What is cheese that’s not yours?”
Me: “I don’t know. What?”
9-year-old niece: “Na-cho cheese!” Fits of laughter ensue.
I click on the Facebook app, and the notification icon pops red, letting me know someone has liked my photo. I’ll admit it here and now: when a person “likes” my post, I feel a little brush of happiness. It may be an ego brush, and/or it may be a humbler kind of affirmation. Perhaps as tenuous as the cyber-landscape may be, thoughts and images can still link us together, if only for a moment. There were several moments yesterday. One occurred in the physical presence of two people on hallowed ground. The other jumped from my screen and into my kitchen. Both led to sharing food. Both involve communal holy mysteries. We need both. Don’t you think?