Just to be Special: The Dark Side of Food Vlogging

The reason that attracts Internet Users to view these videos remains unclear: Perhaps some enjoys seeing the delicious food and some are getting the pleasure of seeing others’ self-inflicting acts and

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Just to be Special: The Dark Side of Food Vlogging

You wonder why there are people who broadcasting their eating activities: From time to time people witness all forms of weird food and their gobblers who are active on various video and live platforms.

These vloggers seem to have a special talent that everyone else also possesses: Eating. The amount of food they can eat in a short period of time and the kind of food that they dare to eat have successfully grabbed the attention of many Internet Users.

Yet despite the potentially high financial rewards and the reputation they could earn from these videos, food eating vloggers are rather in a bad shape: Most viewers merely saw the shining surface of delicacies intake, but not the damage and the deteriorating health they suffered from these contents.

There is always a dark side to everything that seems to be incredibly popular. And for some, the price is too high to bear.

Appreciate talent, rather than pain

Just to be Special: The Dark Side of Food Vlogging
Screenshot from YouTube.

Delicious food is something that most people enjoy. Yet a simple rule in microeconomic tells us the more we consume one type of food, the less satisfied we are on the consumption of an additional unit of that food. Also known as the diminishing return on marginal utility, the rule tells us one thing: For most food eating vloggers, given the amount of food they consume in their videos, they will not actually enjoy the food they eat at all.

Perhaps eating a huge amount of food is a form of talent that should be appreciated. But clearly for many fellow vloggers, it is a hard thing to deal with among their video production schedule. Various Chinese media and blogs have covered stories on many food eating vloggers, who will force themselves to vomit the food they just ate in the videos. The persistent vomiting and abnormal diet leave many in poor health condition with serious concerns.

For those who are vlogging their fearless trials in eating weird stuff, they even face more danger. In addition to their deteriorating health and potential eating disorder, potential food poisoning could also put them into life-threatening conditions.

The reason that attracts Internet Users to view these videos remains unclear: Perhaps some enjoys seeing the delicious food, some enjoys seeing interesting and uncommon things, but some are getting the pleasure of seeing others’ self-inflicting acts and self-tortures.

It is more like seeing a circus show: People go there not to appreciate the talents and hard works from the performers, but to jeer at the shortcomings and embarrassment that these performers bring to themselves.

It seems to be a part of the human nature. From gladiators to circus clowns, the desire of consuming others’ pain and discomfort are always there. As we step into the world of Internet, the audiences are no longer required to show up to an arena or circus house. Now all they need is a computer, or a smartphone, to connect to these shows provided by vloggers who are willing to become Internet clowns.

And with the help of algorithms, those who are willing to be famous by acting weird no longer face many hurdles in their paths to success: As long as they continue their eye-grabbing acts, they will be seen by millions, or even billions of people on the Internet.

While we have no disrespect to the professionalism or effort that clowns put into their shows, food eating vloggers and circus clowns nevertheless suffer from the same issue.

Perhaps their videos and performances are trending, but they are not likely to be truly respected by the viewers. Many would still argue that they are misleading the younger generation into bizarre behaviors. And many would see them as the weirdos in the society.

It is the time to appreciate true talents, rather than weird acts and suffering that performers take. On a social level, watching these food eating videos does not really do anyone any good.

They got nothing but their body to waste

Just to be Special: The Dark Side of Food Vlogging
Image credit to Visual China.

The vloggers, on the other hand, are attracted by lucrative financial rewards, and the lack of fast money-making alternatives to go.

As a vlogger, one would definitely want to see growth of fans and influence. Producing these eye-catching contents will of course increase the number of clicks that they get from video platforms, and perhaps add a few more subscribers to their accounts. With major video sites investing hugely in content rewarding incentives, the number of clicks has a direct link with the financial benefit they get from these platforms.

It sounds like a great path to success, by producing videos that can generate clicks, vloggers can become rich in a short period of time. And in order to do this, some vloggers chose the frenzy-eating path: They create videos to eat weird things and to eat an amount that exceeds normality.

For these vloggers, there is no need to question their willingness to success and to seek profit. And for them, the financial incentives are simply too huge to give up: What they earn from making videos in a month is perhaps as lucrative as what they would otherwise get for a year. With desperate needs to seek profits and increase their incomes, they are eating not only for grabbing attentions, but also for making a decent living.

With no significant talent or connections to make incomes as high as posting videos, for these vloggers, there is no incentive to stop from what they are doing under the status quo.

Of course, they know it is bad for health, of course, they know that their looks may not be the best outcomes. But unfortunately, like Youtube prankers and bare-hand building climbers, they are doing this to get rich or even just get by.

That “Do not Try this at Home” is needed

Whenever there is a dangerous show presented on TV, at the corner of the footage, it always says: Do not try this at home, or Do not try this without professional guidance.

As the world evolves to the age of the internet, pre-cautionary tips and guidance are somehow missing from the video websites: It seems like the old-school disclaimers and pre-cautionary tips are not always there.

Perhaps it is the time for video platforms to work on these projects with more attention and real actions. In the past, video platforms such as Kwai tried to de-incentivize users from uploading weird food-eating videos by deleting their uploaded contents or banning their accounts, yet such policies would also be controversial, as it may prevent the vloggers from practicing their freedoms of expression.

It would be wise for platforms to enhance screening measures, such as requiring mandatory medical examination for vloggers who are engaging in activities that may have a significant negative effect on their health. Although there is no employment relationship between vloggers and the video platforms, vloggers’ videos nevertheless represent the images of the video platforms. It is necessary for vloggers to prove that they are presenting their talents in eating, rather than presenting their eating for money.

Yet, the most important factor to solve the dilemma is to have the video websites facing the problems. Perhaps it will be good for the project managers, instead of the public relation staffs, to include a part of content quality improvement in their own key objectives to accomplish. It nevertheless requires the platforms, operated and ran by profit-seeking tech hegemons, to have a solid impact on combating misleading videos and contents.

Chauncey Jung works with a unicorn Internet firm based out of Beijing. His professional experience pays him off an insider perspective over China’s internet industry. Completed his bachelor and master education in Canada, Chauncey is obsessed with trending technologies and economic developments across Asia. He can be reached at [email protected]