Along with a comical description of his three year-old son’s surf-themed birthday party, Dave Pell of NextDraft writes on the difference between actually experiencing something instead of merely remembering it – an essential distinction to make in our world of ubiquitous mobile cameras and instantaneous photo sharing:

It’s impossible to create a mental picture of a moment when a digital version of that moment is staring you in the face (and often within seconds, the Facebook too)…

The digital age gives a new (and almost opposite) meaning to having a photographic memory. The experience of the moment has become the experience of the photo.

Pell leaves us with a tough question: “Is it worth reducing an entire real life experience to what can be seen through a tiny screen?”

This phenomenon not only stunts our imagination, but it actually removes us from the authentic experience itself.  We’re no longer really experiencing a moment as much as we’re looking at what the moment looks like on a screen barely larger than a few inches.  If this is starting to sound more and more like a scene out of a Don Delillo novel on the “Most Photographed Barn in America,” it’s no coincidence.

Along with our memories, what else do we lose when we surrender more of ourselves to our digital identities?  As we’ve discussed before, our online reputations can drift far from reality.  When we carefully select the most polished versions of ourselves to put forward, how do we prevent our losing touch with the fundamental truth of who we really are?