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Why do we feel the need to Instagram our dinners?
Depending on who you ask, Instagramming your meal distracts from the moment—or is a valuable way to market yourself.
An influencer takes a photo of a drink at the VIP preview for the Oxford Exchange's new Champagne Bar in Tampa.
An influencer takes a photo of a drink at the VIP preview for the Oxford Exchange's new Champagne Bar in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Jan. 29, 2020

Welcome to a series where a baby boomer and a millennial debate the issues that matter to you.

Why Instagram is a valuable marketing tool

It’s a now familiar sight. A restaurant-goer pulls out their phone and snaps a shot of their aesthetically appealing meal or a fellow diner posing casually in front of a wall.

It’s easy to dismiss Instagram, the social media site, and Instagram, the activity, as merely a way for young people to step out of the moment and into their own elaborate personal brand marketing scheme. And while, yes, that is surely a part of it, it would be foolish to dismiss Instagram as just that.

Because Instagram is a marketing platform that works for brands and people alike.

Related: What it's like to be a millennial and a boomer in the time of 'OK Boomer'

Nothing proves that more than just how much Instagram has influenced the restaurant industry. It has changed the way restaurants think about design. It has created the ubiquitous neon sign. It’s also helped buoy the success of Tampa’s Oxford Exchange, a dining-and-lifestyle-complex recently named one of the most Instagrammable restaurants in America.

The Oxford Exchange's bookstore
The Oxford Exchange's bookstore [ TIMES (2013) | Tampa Bay Times ]

And that makes sense. Before I moved to Tampa Bay, one of the first places I wanted to go was Oxford Exchange. I couldn’t really tell you why, other than I had seen it all over Instagram and, frankly, it looked pretty cool. Sure enough, it was one of the first spots I ventured to once I moved here.

Therein lies the magic. There are so many items I didn’t think I wanted — didn’t know I needed — before I saw them on, you guessed it, Instagram.

-Elizabeth Djinis, editorial writer

Can’t you just enjoy your food?

OMG! OMG! This news is SO awesome!

Instagram now ranks restaurants based on how photogenic you will be in those selfies! Finally, a rating based on what matters most! Still, my young friends, as you choose among your dining options, this boomer offers a few lesser considerations:

Related: Is it time for boomers to get off the stage?

· What are the specials? The few bucks you save can go toward that student loan or the down payment on the house that seems so elusive.

A Lobster BL Tasty with avocado, applewood smoked bacon, heirloom tomato, crostini and Meyer lemon vinaigrette at Oxford Exchange in Tampa.
A Lobster BL Tasty with avocado, applewood smoked bacon, heirloom tomato, crostini and Meyer lemon vinaigrette at Oxford Exchange in Tampa.
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· How does the noise compare to a jet engine on take-off? On the off-chance you would rather talk than text with your dinner companion, will you be able to actually hear each other?

· And finally, how is the food?

Don’t get me wrong. The whole world awaits more photos of yourselves in the buzzy new places where style ranks above substance. We’ll know if you have kale between your teeth.

-Paul Tash, Times chairman and CEO