I just got back from the inaugural Taste of Downtown Crossing, where I took my first shot at live tweeting. Taste of Downtown Crossing is a public event where restaurants in the area get to showcase their diverse cuisines, accompanied by live entertainment from local musicians, a wine and beer garden, and culinary demonstrations from the chefs. Over 20 local restaurants set up food tents along Avenue de Lafayette creating the atmosphere of an outdoor market. Understandably, it isn’t a free event but attendees like me got food tastings from each of the participating restaurants.
Gripping my phone, I eagerly got to the festival 15 minutes before it started. I wanted the chance to see the increase in attendance from the moment the gate opened to the moment I left. Sure enough, it went from a spacious street to a bustling celebration lacking wiggle room.
I knew from the start that I would both enjoy this assignment and get a little panicky.
First off, I chose an event that appealed to my inner foodie. When I first heard about it, I went on the event website and felt an immediate SOWA vibe. Friends of mine had recommended many of the restaurants on the list in the past and I thought it would be a good opportunity to taste test them. I actively look for new places to eat in the city and I am always most intrigued by new cuisines. On top of that, I love street fairs and markets – regardless of whether or not I leave with a purchase or having tried a food item – simply for their environment. Everyone is just happy, enjoying the live music and autumn weather.
In terms of tweeting, it was an easy event to document. Food calls for photography and critiquing – perfect for twitter. Plus if I were asked to write a news story about it, I would now have all my tweets to look back on and remember the exact order in which I did everything. I would have my photographs to recall what each food item looked like and remind me of the flavors. Twitter also allows for more creativity. If you choose to, you can add humor and character to your tweets. Tweeting was more exciting than taking pen to paper in this case and it forced my so-called “notes” to be appealing to readers.
There was nothing that should have stressed me out about tweeting such a fun event, yet there was. It wasn’t necessarily a bad kind of stress, just a panicky feeling of not being fast enough. There was this constant pressure of being on my toes. I probably would have felt worse if I had chosen to attend a lecture because I would have tried to quote the speaker and had the added pressure of grasping facts in the moment. Instead of capturing the acts or comments of someone else, I wanted to keep my viewers posted about my own moves.
What was most difficult for me was keeping my phone out at all times. I am an active social media user, no doubt. But one of my biggest pet peeves is when people go to events, or restaurants, or even just group hangouts, and then they feel the need to Snapchat or Instagram every moment. In my head I’m thinking, “you could have just stayed home if you wanted to be on your phone.” I know that twitter is generally used for more purposeful reasons and especially in the journalism world it has become an asset. But people around me don’t necessarily know why I am on my phone, so today I continuously felt as though I was being rude.
For example, when I went over to watch cooking demonstrations I made sure to be in the front to catch all of the action. But that meant that not only could the people behind me see me on my phone, so could the Chefs. For most people, tweeting is a five-second task, but for a newbie like me it can take some time to find the proper hashtag or twitter handle. Not to mention I always had food in one hand and could only type with one thumb.
Other than the fear of being disrespectful, I worried that I would overload on photographs. It can be hard to find the line between too much and not enough when it comes to photographing an event like this one. It was a constant battle of “do I post a picture of this one? But what if the next tent has better food?” But sometimes you just have to go for it in the moment and not over-think it.
In the end, I came out five pounds heavier, with additions to my restaurant list and a free sweatshirt, and I found my tweets on the Taste of DTX website.