What The Heck Is...

What the heck is… Social Eating?

By Kitty Knowles 28 September 2016

Explaining the buzzwords of the moment: What's social eating and what does it mean for you?

Our weekly series What The Heck Is… sheds light on the strange unexplained acronyms and unfamiliar buzzwords that creep into our everyday lives.

From Hygge to helicopter money, we’re on a mission to explain the unexplained.

Our delicious delivery this week? Social eating.

What it is social eating?

Contrary to what you might assume ‘social eating’ is not another trendy supper club app, it’s actually paying to watch people eat food online.

The term itself is a Western name for the South Korean trend ‘Muk-bang’ – a culmination of the words ‘eating’ and ‘broadcast’.

This first rose to popularity around 2013, when young people would eat their dinner in front of video streams with thousands of people.

In South Korea, Muk-bang streamers broadcast on Afreeca TV, a YouTube-style network with a digital currency called Star Balloon – and some earn up to $9,000 a month. Tasty.

How does it fit into the tech landscape?

The reason you’ve probably heard ‘social eating’ being bandied around in recent months is thanks to Twitch.

The video game streaming giant (bought by Amazon for $1bn in 2014) launched a new channel called ‘Social Eating’ this summer – where you can pay to watch people eat food.

This sits with non-gaming categories like Twitch Creative, where streamers can share their artistic pursuits.

Prior to the launch of Social Eating, eating-focused streams were considered against the rules of Twitch Creative, the category’s FAQ states.

Now though, there’s a great deal of interest from users in both the US and Europe, and it will surely be a hit (albeit within its niche).

Why should you care?

You don’t have to have a kink for fridge-raiders to appreciate the business possibilities of new media (Twitch CEO Emmett Shear has admitted he’s not a “social eating viewer” himself).

But in a world we’re always harping on about how technology is killing off solicitors, taxi drivers, and personal assistants, it’s important to remember the new avenues digital brings.

Social eating fits into a new age of independent broadcasting – of YouTube stars, professional Instagrammers, social media influencers, and Cam Girl porn.

Online streaming has never been more possible, or in-demand.

That applies whether you’re running your own business, or just want to get paid eating a lot of cake.

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