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My relationship with social media is and remains an ambivalent one. Unlike many of my peers, I did not initially embrace social media, from its beginning stages with AOL instant messenger and proceeding quickly on to MySpace and Facebook. I always regarded different forms of social networking with a certain degree of suspicion, and not merely because of the doomsday speeches given by principals and parents alike. While horror stories of Internet predators did appropriately raise the hair on my arms, my suspicion was and always has been of a more personal variety.
Social media changes the way people communicate. Even as a teenager, I sensed the sacrifice. I realized that it had changed the standards and expectations for relationships, and I was not quite ready, or willing, to make that change.
Working as a National Congregation of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) advisor, I’ve witnessed, firsthand, the rather shocking way in which social media has transformed the way our generation communicates, and the expectations we have for relationships. My job entails working closely with over 150 teenagers, attending weekend retreats, chatting together over Skype, or simply being on call for any number of late night questions or crises. However, being in direct contact with my NCSY teenagers has been a battle. The high school students I work with would much rather just send me a Facebook message, or post something on my wall, than give me a call. And, from my experience, it is not because they are pressed for time or greatly inconvenienced by picking up the phone to dial my number. Rather, there is a certain fear of direct, personal human communication.
During my last NCSY weekend retreat, I interviewed my high school students asking the following: Do you, and if yes why, prefer using Facebook and other forms of social media to communicate with friends, rather than calling them, sending them an email (which, apparently, is old school at this point), or even meeting up in person?
As always with teenagers (and one of the primary reasons I so greatly enjoy working with this age group), the answers I received were incredibly diverse, and candid. The first teenager I asked, a popular high school junior, answered honestly, “the more personal the contact, the more intimidating.” Questioning her further, she explained that social media provides a sort of “buffer” so that you don’t make “embarrassing social mistakes.” When you use Facebook to contact a friend, you have time and distance to plan out what you’re going to say. A phone-call, on the other hand, supremely increases the “risk” of embarrassing social blunders.
In response to my question, a male NCSYer responded, “It’s not as easy for people to judge you when you communicate through Facebook.” When I asked him if he thinks people judge others by their social media accounts, he responded affirmatively. I then asked him, in lieu of his second response, to reevaluate his first answer. Thinking for a moment, he responded, “Yes, it’s true. In both cases, phone and Facebook, people are going to judge. But, on Facebook, you’re not aware of it. If someone is looking at your picture and judging you, or looking at your status update and judging you, you’ll never know about. People don’t realize they’re being judged through social media, and that’s what makes it so easy.”
Both responses, and several of the others I received, reflected a similar point: social media creates distance, and in distance, there’s a mirage of safety. The closer the social interaction, the more personal the dialogue, the more vulnerable one feels. Social media creates this sort of barrier, a smoke screen between oneself and the other person, in which there is a sense of security. Anonymity, even when, ironically, the increase of social media venues has made the possibility of remaining “anonymous” in today’s world almost impossible, remains a tempting prospect. Even when confronted with the falsehood of this assumption, the feeling that there is distance when using social media is addictive, teenagers increasingly shy away from direct social contact because of the “risks,” exposure and judgment, that it seems to accompany.
Today, I am an active Facebook user. Pursuing a career in journalism, I utilize Facebook to the fullest extent, posting articles and connecting with friends and professional colleagues. While I am definitely not one to decry the use of social media, I do think it is critical to remain aware of the damages it can incur on intrapersonal relationships, so we can do everything within our power to prevent those trends in our own lives.
About the Author: Hannah Dreyfus is a junior at Stern College for Women majoring in journalism. She currently works as managing editor of the YU Observer and an editorial intern for The Jewish Week. Her work has appeared on Aish.com, The Times of Israel website, and in The Jewish Press. She hopes to pursue a joint degree in journalism and law.
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Rewind sixty years to 1953.
Television was considered kosher by most and featured the likes of Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, George Burns, Red Buttons, Perry Como, Arthur Godfrey, Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger, Dinah Shore, Red Skelton, Danny Thomas, Jack Webb as Joe Friday on “Dragnet” and many others who provided great memories.
Yet all are part of one neshamah, planted in rich, verdant soil, determined to grow. May our garden continue to produce a glorious assortment of flowers and trees, each attached firmly to its roots. Our diverse southern vegetation flourishes and grows into different trees, flowers, and fruits, and a rainbow of glorious shades and hues appears. Yet each shoot is rooted in the same soil, stretching its branches and blossoms heavenward in an endless pursuit of growth and connection to the One above.
This past Lag B’Omer, we were blessed to make our first upsherin, where we celebrate our son’s first hair cut. It’s a wonderful milestone that mimics the three years that we refrain from plucking a tree’s first fruits and symbolizes the entry of the child into the world of Torah learning. It’s a clear sign to everyone; this boy is no longer a baby.
Although there are more direct and faster routes to Beer Sheva and Eilat and all the sites and towns in-between, the Basor River is one of the beauties of the Negev that defiantly justifies a diversion.
The importance of death customs has been ingrained in me since birth. When I served as a shomeret for my grandmother, I was instructed not to eat, drink or perform a mitzvah in the same room. In the shock of death, it seemed rather inane to be told it would be considered mocking the dead. My grandmother was gone; she couldn’t do those things because she didn’t exist anymore, a fact that still makes me tear up.
I would have to say that one of the most annoying things about having a newspaper advice column, aside from all these people writing to me and asking for advice, is that they frequently don’t tell me WHY they’re asking.
Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l, who passed away on 28 Tammuz, (July18) this year at age 102, spent all of his days and most of his nights learning Torah. He was the paramount leader of our generation, and inspired tremendous awe and reverence in everyone who knew him. Now, every woman has the stunning opportunity to do something in his memory. A Sefer Torah is being written in his memory and women around the world have the chance to dedicate a letter.
Due to her family situation, it is understandable that she will have more responsibilities than other girls her age, but she would benefit from having some free time and receiving more appreciation for her hard work.
For children, summer means outdoor sports, picnics, and of course, no school! Teachers and students work hard all year long – and everyone deserves a break from education over the summer. However, this two-month break can often have some pretty devastating consequences.
It was only after we celebrated the great news that we were expecting twins that we saw the first sign of problems. First of all, my wife was losing, not gaining weight, even as the babies continued to grow normally. Soon after, routine blood work revealed that my wife was suffering from gestational diabetes.
Rabbi Pinchas Gruman is the new rav of the Minyan at Aish Tamid.
One of the most respected Torah figures in Los Angeles, Rabbi Gruman has been described as “The Los Angeles link in the mesorah of the yeshiva world” by Rabbi Nachum Sauer. As a talmid in Lakewood in the 1950s, Rabbi Gruman received semicha from Rav Aaron Kotler, zt”l, and Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l. Soon after, he moved to Los Angeles.
I have two homes.
My first home is Connecticut, a place of rustling oaks and sprawling backyards. My second home is Israel.
My relationship with social media is and remains an ambivalent one. Unlike many of my peers, I did not initially embrace social media, from its beginning stages with AOL instant messenger and proceeding quickly on to MySpace and Facebook.
While fear used to motivate, even inspire, mine is a generation that views threats as challenges and raises a skeptical brow at austere ultimatums. Reverence often seems a throwback to old times, and absolute authority, whether in classroom or in the synagogue, is a concept increasingly more difficult to swallow. As a counselor at an Orthodox Jewish sleep-away camp this past summer, I witnessed this phenomenon first hand. I worked with forty teenage girls, ages 15 and 16, and quickly discovered the most dependable way to get nothing done: threats.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/teens-twenties/post-this-on-facebook-an-ncsy-advisor-opens-up-about-how-social-media-is-transforming-communication-and-why/2013/02/01/
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