Is Foursquare Ruining Eating Out?

What is your iPhone doing to dinner? When we obsessively track down a niche eatery on Yelp, are we excited because of the perfectly limed fish tacos, or because broadcasting our discovery on Fourquare will just make us look cool?

The Awl's Brent Cox is worried about his dumplings. On the one hand, they are delicious. They are cheap. They are from a hole in the wall might-get-tetanus-from-eating-here-but-still-enticing establishment. They are obscure. They are, maybe even, cool. And it's that last bit that gets poor Brent, because now he has to consider whether it's more important to fill his eager gullet with these delicious dumplings, or to revel in the fact that he's eating them, by sharing his location on Foursquare.

Brent's fear is that "fetishization begins to replace the actual experience." It's an old-new problem in the digital world—is going out with your friends fun because you're having a good time, or because you'll be able to upload photos of you all drinking sake bombs the next haggard morning?

Is the same thing happening to dinner? Why should I care who knows where I'm eating? When it comes to food, there's nothing wrong with recommending a great new find—we appreciate it! But if the I'm here right now and you aren't euphoria of location sharing begins to eclipse the meal itself, perhaps something has gone wrong.

Or is this just part of caring deeply about anything? Responding to yesterday's post about molecular gastronomy, commenter Taylor Alexander defended the trend as valid geekery:

Why do people pretend to be so thick on the internet? Clearly plenty of people make a hobby out of food. Why would you pretend not to realize that? Yes, eating is meant to nourish, but I personally enjoy a finely made meal. Go watch the last 10 minutes of an episode of Iron Chef. The show is a bit silly but the judges make it clear what being a foodie is about. Presentation, taste, smell, everything.

So is Yelping and Foursquaring become just another extension of food-as-hobby? I say, if you love food, love it all the way. Dream about food. Argue about chefs online. There is nothing wrong with being a food geek—in fact, we encourage it. But perhaps, at the intersection of technology and table, the former is broadening at the expense of the latter. At the moment itself—when taking a bite—maybe bytes should be the last things on our mind. [The Awl]