Liveslurping: Twitch Sanctions ‘Social Eating’ Streams


If you – like me – are fascinated by watching other people eat, observing the glisten on their lips as food glides in, savouring their slurping, and jotting down observations on the motion of their cheeks writhing in mastication but you – like me – are banned from every restaurant in a two-mile radius, good news: you can now watch people livestream themselves eating on Twitch. It’s a curious but not surprising development as Twitch realises people are as much interested in hanging out with imaginary Internet friends as they are watching video games. The phenomenon is already huge in South Korea.

“Having your meal while watching someone else have theirs celebrates something people have done for eons: dining together,” Twitch say in an FAQ. “The spirit of Social Eating is therefore less focused on the act of eating and more on a sense of companionship and inclusiveness.”

Oh sure, before you could sneak in a cheeky Nando’s but you’d have to hope Twitch didn’t wag their finger and tell you off for broadcasting beyond their approved topics – making things and, y’know, playing video games. Now Social Eating is an official sanctioned category.

Streaming eating has been big in South Korea for years, where it’s known as ‘mukbang’. This 2015 BBC report on it is pretty good, if you’re curious. It’s… not for me but I can see why some folks would want to eat pizza at the same time as a favourite streamer, or just watch as they scoffed and chatted. Relationships with broadcasters are growing more intimate-seeming every year. It’s not like the old days, when BBC presenters would pointedly turn away and ignore the camera as they swigged gin from the bottle.

It’s funny – Twitch started as a dedicated gaming spin-off from multi-purpose streaming site but eventually grew so much more popular that they shut down Justin, and now Twitch are creeping back towards Justin territory. The expansion does seem to be focused on expanding people’s relationships with Internet friends, mind, rather than just everything. Sadly, assembling office furniture is still forbidden.

I know what you’re thinking: when will your imaginary Internet friends at RPS get in on this? Unfortunately, rules about not broadcasting gore mean we can’t show our communal treehouse meals where John disembowels a live deer with his bare teeth.

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  1. Premium User Badge

    Oakreef says:

    I am official out of touch with the young folks.

  2. Chalky says:

    My favourite part is the fact that apparently they’ll now penalise you if you don’t change your channel directory to “social eating” if you eat during a stream for more than a few minutes.

    A complete reasonable reaction to the plague of food related streams clogging up the gaming channels, obviously.

  3. Zankman says:

    I am sure some will try to paint this as a hobby or something, maybe even art, but, come on… It is obviously just aimed at the very lonely among us.

    The streamers get to literally just eat, the viewers get to feel like they are hanging out with their friends.

    I fear that *certain* female streamers will abuse this, just like they do regular gaming streams – and turn them into camshow-lite sessions, eating food in skimpy clothing, with the camera *totally* focusing on the meal, not the cleavage and whatnot.

    • klops says:

      Is that a thing to be feared?

      • Premium User Badge

        Oakreef says:

        Utterly terrifying. I’m hiding behind the sofa at the mere notion of it.

      • Premium User Badge

        InfamousPotato says:

        I envy rather than fear it. To be attractive enough that I could profit from eating in front of a camera… that is my new dream.

        • klops says:

          There were Korean everyday regular normal guy looking eaters with over 2 milloin/video views by my quick Youtube searching, so perhaps you could be the pioneer for the English speaking viewers. Of course there were very pretty eaters as well.

      • Zankman says:

        It’s something to be looked down upon; I find it quite annoying that you dismiss my opinion because of the word I used (interpreting it literally for some reason).

        There are many ways to profit from one’s looks and/or sex appeal, many legitimate channels and professions that allow that.

        How is it thus O.K. to manipulate and exploit a system *not* designed for that, along with exploiting and manipulating an immature demographic?

        • klops says:

          I didn’t dismiss your opinion because of an expression you used. I dismissed it because I don’t find videos of people eating or playing video games that important that they cannot be spoiled with the player showing bare skin, boobs or tight sixpack.

          That has nothing to do with human trafficing or attrocities like you mentioned in the post before. That is about selling your stuff with sex, which is something that has been done always biologically and culturally.

          The same immature demographic has very easy access to a much worse content, and the violence in most (?) games played in the videos is a bigger deal than a large breasted woman. And were I a concerned parent, I would be a lot more concerned when my young petals were watching a person eating in a Youtube video (wtf!) than if they watched arousing or erotic video material.

          And how is eating or playing a video game while being scantily dressed and good looking not legitimate?

          • gunny1993 says:

            “I would be a lot more concerned when my young petals were watching a person eating in a Youtube video (wtf!) than if they watched arousing or erotic video material.”

            Huh, I thought this was a fetish thing anyway.

          • Zankman says:

            I explained myself and I don’t think you really addressed it. The only thing you said that has merit is that, yes, there are “worse things” out there.

            Which, of course, in on itself isn’t relevant to the topic.

            Twitch is not a camgirl/boy site. Such streams should just not be tolerated.

            THAT is the main point.

            There is a difference between such streams and streams simply featuring attractive individuals.

    • HopeHubris says:

      In what way does that negatively impact you? Or anyone, for that matter?

      • Zankman says:

        ? That logic can be applied to anything. In what way does human trafficking in some random-ass country affect me? Does that make it O.K. and not a problem?

        Note: Just the first analogy to pop into my mind – tho I am sure you will try to argue that I am equating the two things in terms of importance and gravity, which I am not as that would be asinine.

        Anyway, it doesn’t “negatively affect me”; I just think that it is wrong.

        How do you think to argue otherwise?

        What we have: A new type of stream, focused on eating food and socializing.

        You’re telling me that streams that subvert that, manipulating the concept to instead sell sex-appeal – is O.K.?

        If someone wants to profit from/”sell” their looks and sex-appeal, they are free to do so – there are many legitimate ways to do so, be they explicit or not, nude or not, erotic or not, pornographic or not… Nothing to be looked down upon or anything.

        But manipulating and exploiting a system *not* designed for that? Manipulating and exploiting an immature audience?

        That is always something to look down upon.

        Again, how is that supposed to be O.K.?

        Mind you: This is just hypothetical. I just *assume* that someone will do this, just like some female streamers do it for games.

        It will be quite clear once the first stream pops up where the camera is zoomed in on cleavage and not on the food or face.

        • Jediben says:

          Haha ‘Legitimate’. By whose standard? Yours? Jog on Mary Whitehouse. Sometime’s all a girl ha’s is her body, a camera and a bowl of spaghetti hoops. Who are you to say she can’t use them?

          • Zankman says:

            By the standards that there are camgirl/boy websites and that Twitch isn’t one of them.

            If they want to use their sex appeal, go right ahead – but if they are taking it to such strong levels, they shouldn’t be allowed to use Twitch specifically.

            I like how your trying to spin it as some weird subjective thing or that I am shaming attractive people.

    • theapeofnaples says:

      Weirdly sexist shoehorn award of the day for you!

      • Zankman says:

        How is it sexist? What sexist thing did I say?

        There are “camgirl-lites” on Twitch, it’s just the truth; The rule change a while ago only prevented the most extreme forms of it.

        I just said that it wouldn’t surprise me if those same (specific) women tried to underhandedly use this new “category” to their advantage.

        So, please: How is that sexist?

      • pepperfez says:

        Complaining about women and their disgusting sexy bodies is on topic in every conversation!

        • crépuscule says:

          I’ve (unfortunately) come to expect subtle and blatant misogynistic comments online, but seeing them on a site like RPS is a little alarming.

      • onodera says:

        Is “camchildren” better?

  4. allthegoodonesweretaken2 says:

    The phenomenon is already huge in South Korea

    Why am I not surprised. I just wish people didn’t *need* to emulate a nice social activity by using this quasi-one way communication medium.

  5. thelastpointer says:

    Can I eat a pizza with John Romero?

  6. HopeHubris says:

    Oh no! What about the Pants?

  7. OmNomNom says:

    I masticated so hard over this.

  8. GameCat says:

    You call it social eating, Jan Svankmajer calls it 10th circle of hell.

  9. Premium User Badge

    InfamousPotato says:

    Maybe this doesn’t say good things about my sense of self, but upon reading this, I semi-seriously considered watching one as a tutorial. One of my many anxieties is that I eat wrong, that perhaps the manner in which I chew is rude, or gross, and everyone else is disgusted by me but way too polite to say anything, and that perhaps by looking up a highly rated eating video, I could emulate their style.

    Good heavens that sounds sad.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Makes me think of streamers showing off their advanced eating techniques. Stunt eating, even. MLEs bragging about their 360 quickswallow nofork, and whatnot.

    • FCA says:

      I think the right analogy is: watching this to see if you’re eating right, is like watching webcam sex show to learn how to have sex.

      Just ask your partner(s) how they think you’re doing, if they have any likes or dislikes, if you’re doing anything that grosses them out etc. Trust me, they’ll tell.

      • warenhaus says:

        “Dear partner(s), I always wanted to ask: when we’re, you know, doing it, am I chewing it correctly before I swalliw?”

    • Inph says:

      We could never share a meal. I have the opposite. Whenever I see or hear someone eating, my brain sees it as a disgusting and vile event and proceeds to create extreme irrational anger out of nowhere. So your fears, with me at least, would be true. It’s a relatively newly accepted ‘condition’ of sorts coined as misophonia (hatred of sound).

    • Don Reba says:

      One of my many anxieties is that I eat wrong, that perhaps the manner in which I chew is rude, or gross, and everyone else is disgusted by me but way too polite to say anything.

      Probably true if you are a Japanese outside of Japan.

  10. GernauMorat says:

    What a time to be alive. I suppose this is my ‘old man shouts at cloud’ moment

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      So, did anyone else notice exactly when we switched over to living inside The Machine Stops?

  11. Hunchback says:

    This kinda thing seems very popular in Asia, there was a major site that wrote about it recently but i forgot which one. I find it quite a strange “hobby” to watch people eat and i can’t help it but look for the possible very weird fetish behind it. I mean, it’s weird and it comes from Asia, it HAS to be sexual, right? :D

    This all reminds of me of when while browsing the weird side of youtube i stumbled upon a channel featuring a young Japanese girl, how to explain that mmm, “Eating WHOLE Fruits With The Peels and All Very FAST in Public Locations”. Laughed quite a lot about it but i didn’t believe it’ll be a “thing” later on :P

  12. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    I hate eating in public anyway, the idea of people specifically watching me eat…ewwwww.
    Mind you, the idea of being on camera for any reason scares me.

    As for other people eating, well, I never saw the point in watching a video of someone else playing a game, but it turns out to be enjoyable in some cases, so who knows.

  13. TheAngriestHobo says:

    The phenomenon is already huge in South Korea.

    Whereas in North Korea, “Social Starving” is all the rage.

  14. Zanchito says:

    Don’t care much for this, but I’m happy people who do can get their content in an organized way. I’m sure a stream, as opposed to a post-fact video is more enticing, in the same way live sports/TV are more enticing than recorded events.

  15. Eightball says:

    Nedd Ludd was right.

  16. LennyLeonardo says:

    Considering that most people under 25 seem to think it’s OK to chew with their mouths open these days, generating what is, to me, the most nerve-shreddingly horrible noise a person can make, I will not be viewing. I am barely sane as it is, thank you.

    • gunny1993 says:

      Good god, where do you live? Eating with the mouth open is pretty much equal to shitting with the door open as far as me or anyone I know (mostly under 25) are concerned.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        I live in London. My perspective may be skewed by the fact I work in a school, but if you’re 9 and you chew with your mouth open, you will feel my wrath. Also, if you chew gum open-mouthed on the tube I will scowl passive-agressively in every direction other than yours. Grr.

  17. SableKeech says:

    The sooner the ants take over and wipe out humanity, the better.

  18. geldonyetich says:

    The good news is that I’m pretty sure this is a passing fad.

    The bad news is that the next fad will probably be much worse than something as mundane as eating.

    • Jalan says:

      The other good news is that the next fad will likely be something Twitch can’t shoehorn into their grand rule list on the fly, so the waiting period of “Will Twitch give it the thumbs up or down?” will likely either force people doing it onto a different, more lax streaming site or see someone starting one up just to showcase the new fad.

  19. All is Well says:

    I don’t think I’d want to watch someone eat, but come to think of it I would probably enjoy watching someone have a hot drink of some sort. Like tea, or a cup-a-soup.

  20. vahnn says:

    I can’t stand being around people when they’re eating unless I’m also eating and there’s lots of background noise, like music, or a busy restaurant, etc. I can try to ignore looking at the food going into people’s mouths and ignore their chewing, but if it’s quiet and I can hear all those sounds, i start to feel grossed out. And the sounds simultaneously take control of my body and force me to look at the eater, and the sounds and visual combine into a disgusting display and I start to get angry and ill at the same time and have to leave.

    So I don’t think this is for me.

  21. RimeOfTheMentalTraveller says:

    Fucking hell, these comments are full of misophones. Outside of the visuals of people eating with their mouths open, it doesn’t relly bug me that much when people eat.