Chillul Tefila Bifarhesia, as well as halachicly challenged verbiage and dress, are external manifestations of a critical lack of personal yiras shomayim which has lethal consequences.
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.
I am not one to fight a losing battle. Social media as a, if not the, primary mode of communication among youth is the reality. I do hope, however, hope to encourage a healthy and honest approach to social media. Forcing myself, and my NCSY teenagers, to question ‘why’—why I use social media to the exclusion of other modes of communication, why I represent myself this way online, why calling all of sudden seems like such an intimidating prospect—is the first step to gaining control of a system that can all-too easily begin controlling us.
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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Nearly half a million of them fought in Red Army uniforms, under communist slogans but with a personal vengeance that was solely the result of Jewish experience. More than the “Greatest Generation,” they were the living superheroes hidden in plain sight.
It’s all over.
The orchestra is still, the lights are dimmed. Your simcha outfits hang in your closet, silent witnesses to a time you will treasure in your mind and heart forever.
After noticing that you can’t log into your computer, your pulse quickens as you are called into your supervisor’s office. S/he has some bad news. You are being laid off. You have 15 minutes to clean out your desk and surrender your cell phone before security escorts you out of the building. Job termination, especially in the corporate world, can be heartless.
I have always had a problem with the Omer. Doing the mitzvah of counting the Omer was of course pretty easy. Remembering to start the second evening of Passover and remembering to stop the day before Shavous took a little concentration but somehow I always managed. No, for me the nagging problem was always why was I doing this in the first place, other than the fact it was a biblical (according to the Rambam) commandment.
With the semi-mourning period of Sefira behind us, and the festival of Shavuot as well (as evidenced by the tightness of our clothing due to over-indulging in irresistible versions of cheesecake that is an integral component of celebrating our receipt of the Torah), our community can look forward to participating in joyous engagement parties and weddings.
Dear Dr. Yael:
Do you really believe that the Internet is the reason why the divorce rate is so high among young couples? This may be so in some cases, but what about the fact that many singles are pressured to get married at a young age despite not having any idea what they are looking for in a mate? And add to that the fact that many are pressured to make a decision about marriage after dating for a very short period of time.
From the moment they stand under the chuppah, newlyweds have two years to enjoy the special bliss that new love brings. This new finding, reported by the New York Times, is based on a study undertaken by American and European researchers. 1,761 people who got married and stayed married over 15 years were followed. The research shows that after two years the couples moved into a more companionable state in their relationships.
Shel Silverstein’s 1974 poem “Where The Sidewalk Ends” is intended to paint a magical picture of a world of peace and serenity far away from the “black and dark streets.” At the time, perhaps the end of the sidewalk was a place that was “measured and slow.” Today, however, for many parents, where the sidewalk ends can feel like a scary place.
The next chapter of the award-winning novel.
Florida is famous for sparkling water. We have the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico surrounding our coast. We have bays, lakes, canals and, of course, an incredible abundance of swimming pools in homes, resorts, apartment complexes and city parks.
The buzz is back as Camp Gan Israel Florida Overnight gears up for another fantastic summer, CGI Florida style. What makes CGI Florida so different from all the other overnight camps? It’s all in the details.
Leah Katz, a TeenZone camper at Oorah’s TheZone summer camp and an 11th grader at Midwood High School, read her winning essay about how TheZone changed her views on Judaism at the Jewish Heritage Awards Ceremony held at Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’s office in April. The purpose of the Jewish Heritage Essay Contest is to acquaint public school students with Jewish history and customs and to help foster a deeper understanding of Jewish culture. The contest is open to students of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. Leah’s essay is reproduced in full below.
Moshe Sharett, the head of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department, visited Egypt in 1945. In Cairo he met a most remarkable young woman, a beautiful journalist who was the darling of Egyptian high society – from high-ranking military brass, to culture icons and Muslim sheikhs, to the court of King Faruk.
The two proceeded to talk about everyday things and surprisingly her mother-in-law did not find anything else to criticize. This occurred a few more times, with my client changing the topic every time by complimenting her mother-in-law or mentioning something positive about her.
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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