This is a tiny philosophical problem: when you find the hidden treasure, the off-the-beaten-path-gem, and you are a digital citizen, do you pimp the hidden treasure, or do you keep your trap shut? The cost/benefit analysis is not clear-cut. Publicize the hidden treasure, and you benefit the proprietor of the hidden treasure, but you run the risk of the hidden treasure, through success bought with this publicity, losing some of its hidden-ness and eventually some of its treasurability. Withhold the information, and then you get to have the hidden treasure to yourself, but the proprietor, who surely could benefit from an elevation from hiddenness, does not benefit at all. Plus you pass up the opportunity to claim to have discovered a hidden treasure.
As someone who has many times made a point of trying a new restaurant before Carrington's review ran in the Scene for the exact purpose of avoiding its elevation from hiddenness and the attendant overcrowding that we sometimes refer to as The Fox Effect, I can say this dilemma is a real one — even in Nashville, where culinary "coolhunting" is not quite what it is in bigger cities. Word travels pretty fast here, and it doesn't have terribly far to travel. Just blog it, or leave a comment on a Bites Open Thread, right?
You can easily replace some of the references to food in Cox's essay with references to music or movies or other things we consume, fetishize and share digitally, but I think taste for good food is much more broadly shared than taste in art — Swedish meatballs will probably taste good to more people than Swedish band Dungen will sound good to, for example. Put another way: More people will dare to eat a peach than will listen to Eat a Peach. (And rightfully so, I'd say.) But a dedicated foodie will Tweet it, too. Just as there have been plenty of times that I stood watching a good band thinking, "I should let the Internet know I'm standing here watching a good band!" I've also been known to, y'know, take a picture of a sandwich. (See also: Foodies v. Hipsters. And is it a coincidence that arguably the most notorious hipster in America is known affectionately as "Beans"?) Here's another key graph:
My personal concern is that fetishization begins to replace the actual experience. Were I to opt to fully share my fried dumpling experience with the World of Foodies, then I would take notes on the meal, photograph every element and then spend a good chunk of time composing my initial post detailing the experience and then spend more time ensuring that the post is brought to the attention of the right people. Having done that, what portion of the event is comprised of “eating fried dumplings and finding them awesome”? And if I keep it to myself, or at least just tell friends and family about it with my actual mouth, what then is the portion of the event is “eating fried dumplings and finding them awesome”? See also: people who attend weddings and/or concerts and watch the entire thing through the screen of their mobile phone, which is being used to record, a kneejerk mediation of experience. There is something to be said for Just Experiencing something and letting the sole record of it be your memory. It's worked for centuries.
The other thing that's worked for centuries is writing about things we experience — maybe not as quickly as we do now, and maybe not with all the likes and ratings and check-ins and "mayors" and such, but writing about them nonetheless. And I also find the oversharing element of our digital culture a bit much at times. I know that the Internet has changed the way I find and listen to music — in some ways good, in some ways bad — and while I don't think it's really changed the way I eat all that much, I do know that carrying a networked computer around in my pocket all day has changed the way I view many experiences. Namely, I've started to think of them as potentially share-able. Like when the new pizza truck rolls up to the Scene office, and I've got a slice in one hand (delicious, by the way) and my iPhone, ever at the ready, in the other.