San Diego's "Foodie Influencer" Community Is A Disease That Needs To Be Stopped

June 11, 2024

We used to be part of it before becoming reformed, so we know from experience, San Diego's "foodie influencer" community is a disease that feeds off of freebies from public relations-fueled restaurants and it needs to be stopped.

After being at the forefront of this fuckery, we quit participating in any of the public relations-propped restaurant events years ago. But out of sheer curiosity, we recently went to an "Influencer & Media Event" for a new Italian restaurant in Little Italy. After watching the hungry hoard participate in excess and staged photos, guarding the dishes from actual consumption, we left feeling ashamed of ever being part of this "community" of sycophants and scoundrels. 

San Diego, revered for its pristine beaches and vibrant culture, is also marred by a repulsive infestation of food influencers, resembling nothing short of vermin scurrying for crumbs of validation. These self-proclaimed gastronomic gurus parade through the city's eateries like shameless remoras, latching onto any free plate in sight, all in the pursuit of fleeting online fame and complimentary meals. 

For them, gone are the days when dining out was about savoring flavors and experiencing epicurean artistry. Instead, San Diego's dining scene has devolved into a grotesque spectacle where influencers prioritize snapping the perfect Instagram video over genuine appreciation for food and ambiance. They swarm newly opened restaurants like locusts, leaving behind a wake of privilege and disregard for the hard work of chefs and staff. 

With their insatiable appetite for attention, they have transformed dining establishments into mere backdrops for their narcissistic endeavors. Rather than engaging in meaningful discourse about food artistry, they reduce it to nothing more than a prop for their carefully curated online personas. Their "reviews" are shallow, devoid of substance, and driven solely by the desire for likes, views and followers... and the next free meal.

They exploit the generosity of restaurants and food vendors, demanding meals as a "collab" in exchange for providing the eatery a moment of ever-fleeting exposure on their oft-manipulated social media platforms. This culture undermines the integrity of the dining experience for paying customers, as the online endorsements are based more on personal gain than genuine merit. This leads unsuspecting followers astray and further perpetuates a culture of depthless excess. In a city known for its rich culinary diversity, this shallow approach to food appreciation is nothing short of sacrilege.

Adding insult to injury, the repulsive phenomenon of food influencers in San Diego is not solely the product of their own narcissism. Public relations companies, those vulturous entities lurking in the shadows of the restaurant world, eagerly exploit these alleged influencers to justify their own existence. They prey on the insecurities of restaurateurs, dangling the promise of increased exposure and social media buzz in exchange for their middle-man services, which come at the cost of thousands of dollars a month. 

These PR firms act as puppet masters, orchestrating anyone with a social media following and nothing real to say to manipulate the online presence of restaurants and eateries, all in the name of profit. They shamelessly pimp out these so-called influencers like cheap commodities, peddling their carbon-copy crap to their unsuspecting clients, who are willing to write off a few meals for temporary limelight. PR firms win, the influencers win, but the restaurants rarely make it out alive. 

In their quest for continued relevance in their dying industry, these PR companies have commodified the dining experience, reducing it to a transactional exchange of social media clout for glowing "reviews". In essence, the unholy alliance between food influencers and PR companies has transformed San Diego's dining scene into a cesspool of opportunism and deceit. It's a sad indictment of our society's obsession with superficiality and instant gratification, where true craftsmanship is sacrificed at the altar of online popularity.

San Diego's food influencer culture is not just distasteful; it's downright repugnant. It degrades the integrity of the dining experience, exploits the hard work of culinary professionals, and perpetuates a cycle of entitlement. It's high time we put an end to this behavior and reclaim the true essence of dining - a celebration of food, community, and genuine appreciation. Put down your phones. I'm eating as soon as the food arrives.