This goes back a little to Kahneman’s et.al. observation that there are two very obvious and different ways of how we treat the present moment – namely the experiencing self, and the remembering self.
The experiencing self is the one that is right here and right now, fully present in the moment, breathing in the current events.
The remembering self, on the other hand, is the one who thinks about where we are now, the one who curates the experience so it will be remembered, and the one who takes the pictures, sends snapchats, and texts while being in the experience. It’s the one who follows the urge to say “OMG this is crazy” out loud, imprinting the words on the memory in bold. And it’s not just making notes for posterity – the act of conscious remembering itself is being remembered. It’s quite similar, if not the same with, when you remind yourself to not forget something.
The humble rise of the remembering self began with the photography going mainstream, where you would end up attending parties of someone who had gone abroad and flicked a ton of pics of faraway lands. And, as the imaging technology went digital and then prevalent via smartphones, everyone’s now become a tourist in their own lives. I use whole 4 separate apps to capture my life (instagram, snapchat, whatsapp and facebook/messenger), and I find myself reaching for friends when I experience things.
The natural reaction, I think, is to despise the remembering self, and lament the departure of the experiencing self. We worry that our experiences have become mindless, that something went lost in this transition, that by always worrying how to remember the moment, for example, worrying that you can’t capture the supermoon on your shabby phone, ruins the experience of the moment itself.
But maybe it’s not all bad. Maybe by embracing the remembering self and being present through the remembering, we can get best of both worlds.
So I say – take that picture, send that snapchat, text that friend, and don’t worry – you are still here, very present (hopefully, anyway)!