I recently read there are restaurants that have started forbidding their customers to take pictures of the food. One argument I heard was that it took too long, thus letting the food get cold and creating a sub-optimal experience. Another argument was that the customers would be focused more on the picture (and the social media they would post it on) than on the experience of eating. A third reason – and one we can all empathize with – was that some restaurants don’t want patrons to take out their phones in the first place, since it makes for a lousy social environment.
All valid arguments to some degree. And yet. There’s something about taking a picture of a special moment, whether it’s food or something else we’re enjoying, that makes it feel deeper, better. I know there are less lofty reasons for posting pictures on social media (making others jealous for instance, or sheer bragging), but let’s put these aside for a second.
If your motives are pure, what’s wrong with taking a picture?
The Upside of Taking Pictures
As it turns out, nothing. On the contrary, research shows that taking pictures makes you happier. One study showed that people who were encouraged to take Instagrams of their lunch were more immersed in their food than those who didn’t take pictures.
The researcher, Professor Kristin Diehl from the Southern California School of Business, had a solid explanation for this finding. When you take a picture, you tend to deliberately look for something you want to remember, something worth capturing. That increases your engagement in the experience and makes you enjoy it more.
The results weren’t just limited to taking pictures of the food you’re eating. People who took photos during a cultural tour enjoyed it way more than those who didn’t take pictures. Again, focusing your attention on what you want to remember deepens the pleasure of your viewing experience.
So don’t feel guilty about snapping pics of your food, that mountain you climbed, or the view from your hotel during your trip to Europe. Taking pictures makes you happier, so go for it.
Just remember that taking pictures increases your happiness – not posting them on social media.
Do you recognize this finding, that taking pictures of your experience deepens it for you?
[Photo Credit: Free Images STXC, cc]