Meir Panim’s Tiberias Free Restaurant not only provides warm meals, but the opportunity to socialize as well.
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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Today is day six without a phone.
Besides for feeling slightly isolated, it’s not too bad.
I’ve been doing things that I know I would not be doing if my phone was sitting next to me, shiny screen beckoning.
Is anyone else alarmed by the way extended warranties are sold on just about anything and everything? It means one of two things – either someone has found a great way of getting consumers to part with more of their hard earned dollars or manufacturers have no faith in their own products. Neither of those options is particularly heartwarming.
As I described Gaon in a review in June 2001 (“In Search of Ancestors, Sculpture by Simon Gaon” at Yeshiva University Museum), his Bukharian Jewish roots are deeply embedded on both sides of his family, echoed in his early yeshiva education.
Let me begin by congratulating my dear machatunim, Soraya and Jay Nimaroff, on being the recipients of the Community Service Award at the Sderot Hesder Institutions 18th annual anniversary dinner.
Think of your issues this way: due to those different backgrounds, you have a “shovel” to deal with difficulties while he has a “spoon”.
Do you remember the good old days when kids were kids and there was never anything to worry about? Those days never really existed, but today there are issues kids worry about that weren’t issues for some adults. They include fear of bullying, natural disasters, divorce, and violence.
In Part I talked about celebrating 30 years of Regesh Family and Child Services providing services to children, teens and families. I shared the agency’s origin and the many lessons I have learned through this journey. As I mentioned, it is my hope that my experiences will add to your toolbox of life skills.
Unfortunately, a map of the Middle East with no mention of Israel is nothing new… It is surprising however, that the world’s largest publisher of children’s literature, Scholastic Books, has joined in this trend.
About six months ago my parents and I started discussing ideas for a mitzvah project in honor of my bat mitzvah. I wanted to do something unique that would be meaningful to me and also do something that my friends could participate in. Immediately I thought of an organization called Sharsheret.
“I’m disappointed that the agreement reached with Iran leaves our unfulfilled our ultimate objective: a complete dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program and related activities.
Southern NCSY will be holding a leadership training Shabbaton at the Young Israel of Bal Harbour December 6 and December 7. Rabbi Steven Weil, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, will be the special guest speaker.
Is there a beginning and an end to the universe? What role can medical breakthroughs play in conception or genetic engineering? Can science help us pinpoint the end of human life? Does the soul emanate from the brain or vice-versa?
Last month’s column sketched the myriad of social programs in which the Orthodox American communal worker and leader Adolphus S. Solomons (1826-1910) was involved. Adolphus married Rachel Seixas Phillips (1828-1881), a descendant of colonial patriot families and together they had eight daughters and a son.
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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