I was looking at the photo of a fried egg that @thank9stars posted, which looked like it was cooked by someone who hasn’t had a cup of coffee yet. No foodie would get excited about this egg, but as a piece of art, it’s mesmerizing. I would hang it on my wall.
There are so many ways to look at something that, two people might “Like” the same photo for entirely different reasons. In this particular case, I think it’s safe to assume that most people are liking her photography, not the fried egg.
At the opposite end, typical food bloggers post photos of popular dishes like burgers, ice cream, steak, donuts, and fried chicken. They look almost 3D. They are “food porn” because they appeal to our basest desires. It’s obvious why we “Like” them.
Earlier today, I came across the Instagram account of Jennifer Gates, Bill Gates’ daughter. She identifies herself as a “medical student.” With 253k followers, she must be the most popular medical student in the world. When people like her photos, I wonder what they are actually liking—perhaps the fantasy of being the daughter of the richest man.
When I post a photo of the food I eat, I’m not sure what I’m expecting people to like about it, because the photos in my mind are supplements to my thoughts. I can’t take artistic photos of food, but I could take beautiful photos if I wanted to, as I have enough technical skills and equipment. That is, artistic and beautiful are two separate things. Anyone can achieve the latter with enough practice.
One of my favorite Instagrammers who take artistic photos of food is @radjew. I often find myself staring at her photos because I cannot figure out why I find them fascinating. They are beautiful to me, but not in the conventional sense of the word. If I were under an MRI, the brain region that lights up, I’m sure, would be entirely different from the region that lights up when I look at food porn.
Entertainment makes shallow connections to a large number of people, whereas art makes deep connections to a small number of people. I think how we make friends largely determines which path we choose.
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