One of the most surreal experiences on the campaign trail is watching a photo-op. There are a gazillion cameras around, and yet, the politician is trying to act — despite the fact that media was told the event was photo-only! — as if he is simply behaving naturally, that this is exactly what he would do whether people were watching and snapping away or not. The first politician I saw do this was Jon Huntsman, who was careful to hold a gun long enough at a shop in New Hampshire (on the shop’s door was a sign saying “Fire Pelosi”) that everyone had a chance to get a decent photo. It was the same at the Harley-Davidson, where he made sure he sat on a bright red motorcycle long enough again for plenty of photos. Yet somehow we all play along and act like this is all very normal; I don’t recall any of the photographers shouting at him to move his face or angle himself slightly differently, despite the fact that he was well, modeling.
Anyway, photo-ops are no doubt here to stay (who doesn’t love a photo of a politician holding a gun or riding a motorcycle?) but in my USA Today piece today, I look at how Facebook has made all of us — not just those running for office! — intent on photographing our experiences, not living them.