I don't know when it started exactly but at some point, probably in college, I realized that I wasn't inhabiting myself. I mean to say that, although I was me, I was also aware of myself at a remove. At times I felt like I was watching myself in a movie, or reading a book where the main character was eerily like myself. It began to really get to me, and I asked many people (some of them "professionals") if this was normal. They all assured me that it was, to a certain extent, but that didn't allay my fears.
As a result I would sometimes "come to", or suddenly "realize" that whatever was happening at the time was, in fact, happening to me right then. The sensation was unsettling, but it would fade, usually quickly. At the same time as one bout of "realization" I was starting to think about photography, which was something I was doing a lot of at the time. I was taking a photography course, I'd recently acquired a second manual camera and was about to buy a brand new digital camera.
In particular I was thinking about how photography removed me from the events I was recording. I was very sensitive to this remove, due to my experiences, and wondered if one caused the other or if they were mutually reinforcing. Was I taking pictures in order to build a framework where I could hover above my life, or was the hovering making me take more pictures since I was already detached, or did the detachment make me take pictures which made me more detached etc?
This morning I ran across this NPR blog post. It asks one of the questions I asked myself succinctly but doesn't really answer it. It did make me think, though. As we all become producers of pictures (and other content), are we increasingly packaging and framing our lives for consumption? Even if that consumption is by us? If so, what does that make our most meaningful moments actually mean? Is a happy occasion truly happy when the main point of it is pretty photo? Will the experience of seeing something extraordinary be captured as easily as the image of it is? If, as we tacitly assume we will, we share our images, is that really an attempt to share an experience or are we shaping the experience mainly in order to share it? With Facebook and Twitter and forums like this blog you are reading right now, I feel like the purity of the experience is sullied since the likelihood of sharing images from it increases, or worse since the first thought when you see/do something interesting you think "this would look great on Facebook". I may be over-thinking the whole thing or caught in a tautology based in my detachment, but it's making me think pretty hard about my upcoming wedding. It would be easy to let it turn into a series of "staged photo ops" as the article mentions, but what will that do to the experience of the wedding itself?