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August 24, 2016 / 20 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘online’

Anonymity Makes Blogging Better

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Editor’s Note: This blog is a response to a blog posting on the JewishPress.com by Harry Maryles (Emes Ve-Emunah) who argued that anonymity on the internet leads to nastiness and singled out “DovBear” an anonymous blogger who comments on Maryles’s blogs.

Harry Maryles says he disagrees with my posts over the last few days, in which I argue in favor of as much online anonymity as possible. In what follows I explain why he is wrong:

Note: I don’t mean any disrespect in referring to Harry Maryles by his first name. We’ve known each other for a very long time, and I consider him a colleague who often takes the same side as I do on important issues. Also, I am not a very formal guy. Don’t make a big deal out of it. The words in bold belong to Harry and are followed by my response.

Dovbear – who himself chooses to be anonymous – is a good example of why he shouldn’t be. His writing is sometimes very nasty.”

This is an exaggeration. I happen to think Avi Shafran and Yaakov Menken are far more nasty than I am, and they use their real names! If you doubt this, see any of their posts on heterodox rabbis. They are always full of lies and snide remarks.

“A luxury he affords himself because of that anonymity.”

Untrue. And even if it was true, how would Harry know? I’m anonymous, remember? So what possible basis does he have for claiming that the way I behave on my blog is substantively different from the way I behave in public? He has no idea, and because he has no idea, he should say nothing. Making a groundless guess about someone is a breach of good manners, and let’s not ignore that he committed this small act of nastiness even though he is using his real name. So much for the theory that real names enhance civility.

“While I may agree or disagree with him, I find it very distasteful when he writes that way – and that occasionally it crosses the line of respecting human dignity.”

That’s fine. You’re entitled to make that statement, and if you were to make it on my comment thread I wouldn’t delete it. However, you have no good reason to think its produced by my anonymity. For all you know, what you see on the blog is the real me. And besides: plenty of our blogging colleagues use their real names, and they are nasty, too. So much for the theory that real names enhance civility.

“I would be willing to bet that this is why he guards his identity so religiously. He does not want people to think of him the way they do about ‘Dovbear.'”

You would lose that bet.

I am anonymous because I don’t want my wife and kids to have to put up with any of the unfriendly, unfair, vicious people who have crossed my blogging path. The world is full of jerks, and I am entitled to privacy. If it costs me credibility, so be it. That’s my choice, and I am entitled to make it.

“In a very self-serving way”

Questioning my motives is also a breach of good manners. I find it distasteful. (for real) And yet – let’s note again – the fact that we all know your name hasn’t stopped you from behaving towards me in an uncivil way. (I don’t mean the criticism. I mean the baseless guesses about my motives. Its not good etiquette).

“[H]e thus tries to actually make an argument for anonymity as a better way of communicating ideas. Anonymity – he says – forces respondents to consider the argument rather than focus on the identity.”

This is true. It is a better way to discuss ideas, for the reasons I gave.Moreover, it makes the blogging better. The comment threads are more lively and more fun, and we are able to discuss anything we like in any manner we like without having to endure tzitzis checks at shul and school.The people who oppose anonymity, generally, are the people who would like to be conducting those tzitzis checks.

“That would be true if it were not accompanied by the insults that frequently come with anonymous comments.”

Most of my comment writers are anonymous, and insults are very rare – and certainly not frequent.

In fact, after nearly nine years of reading thousands of my own comment threads and probably close to one million comments, most of which were left by anonymous people, I can safely say that Harry’s premise is false: Insults DO NOT frequently come with anonymous comments. (Readers: Do you agree with me?)

And again, even if Harry was right, it would still be true that anonymity forces respondents to consider the argument rather than focus on the identity. Harry hasn’t offered any counterargument. He merely introduced a (false) fact that did nothing to defeat my claim.

“He makes note of the fact that Rabbi Menken actually misused the knowledge he thought he had gained googling a commenter who used his real name. Rather than focusing on the content of his message he focused on the individual and used it to discredit him rather than respond to comment. But googling that name produced information about someone else with that name.”

Correct. This actually happened. And now that it has happened, why would anyone see any profit in using his real name on Cross Currents if he was after an honest exchange of ideas? Harry doesn’t answer this question either. Also, one of Menken’s colleagues on Cross Currents has been known to call commenters and bloggers on the phone and yell at them when they say things he doesn’t like. Real bullying stuff. Who in their right mind would want to be exposed to such madness? Who would want their kids and spouses to have to deal with it? It’s so much saner, so much simpler and so much safer to just use a pseudonym.

“Dovbear is right about that. Rabbi Menken was wrong. But that does not diminish his point about lowering the level of discourse when the comments are made anonymously.”

Perhaps it doesn’t diminish your point, but (sorry to keep pointing this out) you still haven’t gone to the trouble of proving your point. Do you have any data, or even an anecdote, that suggests anonymity lowers the level of discourse? Sure, Avi Shafran (who has his own self serving reason to oppose online anonymity) constantly says its true, but he’s never bothered to prove it either. Anyway, I have seen more comment threads and comments than the both of you combined, and I say it isn’t so. The level of discourse isn’t lowered when people are anonymous. Its enhanced. People are free to say what they like, and because no one is using a real name, no one can get hurt.

And can I make another point that Harry hasn’t grasped? You never know if someone is using his real name on a comment thread. Just because I might write a comment using the name Yaakov Shwartz is no proof that I really am Yaakov Shwartz and besides, with so many people named Yaakov Shwartz in the world, why should using my real name make me worry about how I come across on a blog thread? If someone complains to me about it in person, I can always say the comment was left by a different Yaakov Shwartz. So what have we gained?

“I believe Dovbear is wrong in the argument he makes favoring anonymity. He says that anonymity forces you to respond to content instead of focusing on the individual. That is a specious argument. “

Ok, you think its “specious”. Are you going to tell us why?

“If you have something to say it doesn’t make any difference if you know the identity of the commenter or not. If you want to attack a commenter with vile insults instead of responding to their content – you can do that without knowing their identity too.”

I guess not. Sigh. So to sum up the reasons why Harry is wrong about anonymity:

(1) Using your real name doesn’t guarantee civility. Plenty of online jerks use their real names. It has not made them more civil.

(2) Gaining credibility through the use of your name is a lazy short cut. Better to win it through the strength of your arguments.

(3) There’s no such thing as a “real name” on a comment board. You can never know if the person using the name Yaakov Shwartz on a comment board uses that names in real life, as well.

The people who wish to end online anonymity are also the people who think Kolko got a raw deal and would like to stone kofrim in Times Square. They’re the people who Google your name so they can cover it with mud or so they can call you up on the phone and harangue you into silence They hate anonymity but not because they value civility but because they value orthodoxy and anonymous blogging threatens it. Rather then muster solid counter arguments, these people want to know the names of the unorthodox bloggers so that they can be made to suffer for their ideas. This is what’s at stake – this is the real thinking behind the anti-anonymity push.

Visit DovBear.

DovBear

Iran Launches Its Own “Acceptable” Version of YouTube

Monday, December 10th, 2012

In an attempt to meet the demands for online entertainment starved since the official censoring of YouTube in 2009, Iran’s government has created an “acceptable” version of the video site, filled with government-approved content.

“Mehr” – Farsi for “affection”, will allow Iranians to upload their own short videos just like on YouTube, and watch other videos uploaded by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) network.

Google and its related email service, Gmail, have also been made off limits to Iranians since the ascension of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Malkah Fleisher

NY Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Gets a Watchdog

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

On the NY Times Public Editor’s blog, Margaret Sullivan talks about the leash they’ll be putting on Jodi Rudoren, the NY Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief.

After Rudoren’s not very well thought out foray into the world of social media, and the serious missteps that followed, the NY Times has decided to appoint an editor to handle Rudoren’s social media interactions, for the purpose of “not exposing The Times to a reporter’s unfiltered and unedited thoughts.”

The NY Times has some broad guidelines for their reporter’s use of social media.

Take care that nothing you say online will undercut your credibility as a journalist.

Newsroom staff members should avoid editorializing or promoting political views.

And we should be civil – even to critics – and avoid personal attacks and offensive remarks.

Some might say that Rudoren’s choice of twitter links, topics, and statements didn’t exactly meet the standards set by the first sentence in that guideline.

 

Jewish Press News Briefs

Photo Fraud in Gaza (Video)

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Again and again, we encountered dishonest, distorted and manipulated news reporting in the fighting between Israel and the Hamas terrorist forces of Gaza. We’re enraged. But Shraga Simmons, an experienced observer and analyst of this kind of malicious, unprofessional media behaviour, has gone beyond anger, coolly pulling together several egregious examples in this brief online video so that its implications can be considered, and perhaps understood, by a larger audience.

They don’t explain the war. They don’t justify one side over the other. But they illustrate the active participation – knowing or unwitting – of some of the world’s most influential news media in engineering a public opinion response by means of fraud.

Visit This Ongoing War.

Frimet and Arnold Roth

Rocket Attacks 8-9 a.m.

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

From personal messages received from family and friends, and from scanning the online sources – just in the past fifty minutes:

* Ashdod: Four separate rocket attacks in past twenty minutes [8:45am]] * Eshkol region: Damage to property is reported [8:40am] * Ashdod: Incoming Palestinian Arab missile warning [8:35am] Kiryat Malachi: Palestinian Arab rocket hits a residential neighbourhood, perhaps a school, perhaps other targets as well. Ynet says five injured,three of them severely [8:35am]. TOI is reporting that a four-storey building was demolished in the attack and people remain trapped inside the shattered structure. More details when we have them, but it sounds like a seriously bad outcome * Ashkelon: Two incoming Palestinian Arab rockets from Gaza intercepted in mid-air [8:30am] * Ofakim: School building is hit by incoming Gazan rocket during the night; no injuries [8:30am] * Ashdod: A residence is hit by a Palestinian Arab rocket; no injuries [8:25 am] * Gan Yavne: Volley of six rockets is fired at this residential neighbourhood [8:24 am] * Eshkol region – four more incoming rockets in one volley [8:15am] * Be’er Sheba: yet another incoming rocket, probably GRAD. No injuries. [8:15am] * Shafir region, near Kiryat Malachi: Rocket explodes in open area; no one hurt [8:05am] And on the Gazan side? We don’t know much beyond what the Hamas spinners want us to know. Since that’s notoriously unreliable, we can say what we know from Israeli sources, including Times of Israel. * More than a hundred separate sorties were carried out against terrorist targets in Gaza by IDF planes and other resources overnight. These included five rocket launching squads.

* This morning (time not certain), a Palestinian Arab motorcycle was spotted by the appropriate Israeli authorities in Gaza and identified as carrying a rocket. The rocket men, three of them, were permanently removed from the scene.

* The IDF via its air force has been distributing Arabic-language leaflets over Gaza this morning warning residents to keep far away from terrorist bases and weapons depots (the locals know exactly where they are). The message which is echoed by ordinary Israelis is that Palestinian Arab civilians, even those who hate us, are not the targets of the Israeli actions.

Times of Israel is reporting that very few Gazan Palestinian Arab Moslems heeded the call for dawn prayers today; the few vehicles seen on the roads were ambulances and media cars.

Visit This Ongoing War.

Frimet and Arnold Roth

Egypt Recalls Ambassador to Israel

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Al-Ahram newspaper online reports: “The Egyptian State TV announced shortly after 9pm that President Mohamed Morsi has recalled the Egyptian ambassaor to Israel, Atef Mohamed Salem to protest Israeli attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip.”

Malkah Fleisher

Can an Orthodox Jewish Woman Have it All?

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

As I began reading an article in the Forward by Aurora Mendelsohn about whether a Jewish woman can have it all (meaning a career and an observant family) I received a call from my daughter about an article in the Chicago Tribune* about one woman who does have it all.

Her name is Talia Mashiach. And indeed she does have it all. And I was glad to see that she didn’t Kvetch about how difficult it is for her to fulfill her role as a Jewish woman and have a successful career at the same time. She seemed to revel in her success at both. More about Talia later.

This is not to say that Ms. Mendelsohn doesn’t make some valid points. She does. But whenever I read one of these feminist based articles, it always seems like someone is Kvetching about how hard it is for a woman to be successful in a male dominated society in general and in Judaism in particular.

Ms. Mendelsohn mentioned the things she has to do in order to be more fulfilled as a Jew while raising children. Like taking turns with her husband going to Shul for Kol Nidre in alternate years. She talks about breaking barriers of stereotypical male-female roles in the workplace and in Judaism. To that end she advocates flextime for parents in the workplace to enable better parenting for both.

And then – as is common among some feminist types – she implies that Rishonim like the Avudraham and later the Shulchan Aruch that reflect his views were influenced by the misogyny of their time. Albeit praising them for recognizing that indeed no one can really have it all – which is why in Judaism women are exempt from most of the time bound positive Mitzvos.

However, in the current spirit of egalitarianism she says that women should be given greater roles in the synagogue while men should be encouraged to become more domestic. Kind of a role reversal.

Right. That is what Judaism is all about. Role reversal. I have heard this argument ad nauseum. Is this what is now demanded?! In order to achieve some sort of parity with men, women need to go to Shul while men stay home with their children?! I guess so if one follows the example of the Mendelsohn household. This seems to be the current trend in Orthodox feminism. Push the envelope so far that men take on the traditional roles of women so that women can take on the traditional roles of men… All within the parameters of Halacha of course.

I am not even going to attempt to argue the point here. Been there and done that. I just want to contrast that with a woman who probably has more of what Ms. Mendelsohn seeks than she ever will and does so without the need to change Orthodox Judaism as we know it.

Talia Mashiach is one of the most successful career women in the Orthodox world. I know her and her husband. They are day school and yeshiva educated Orthodox Jews who send their children to Arie Crown Hebrew Day School. She not only has a successful career in business, she has a successful career as a mother. An Orthodox mother that does not ignore her children or her Judaism.

At age 35, Talia Mashaich is a self-made millionaire. She has created many successful businesses and is about to corner the market on corporate event planning by digitalizing every aspect of it online. Her business acumen has attracted some big name venture capitalists and they have not been disappointed with the returns on their investments. She loves what she does and is highly respected in the corporate world. She does what’s necessary to succeed without sacrificing one iota of her Judaism. She has made sure of that.

As her husband Shmuel said in the Tribune article, she is as good a mom and wife as she is in business.

Talia organizes her schedule so that she can be home by the time her children come home for school. Fridays she generally works out of her house. Evenings are spent with her family. She hires household help to take care of cleaning and cooking allowing her to maximize her time with her family.

Weekends are hallowed time for the Mashiachs and on Shabbos they often host friends and family for Friday night and Shabbos morning meals. And of course she is unplugged from all technology. That – she says – rejuvenates her for the new work week.

She does it all without Kvetching about how Judaism has somehow failed women spiritually.

Before anyone accuses me of being insensitive to those women who feel they need “more” in order to express their spirituality than mainstream Orthodoxy gives them, please don’t bother. I get it. Some people (men as well as women) feel they need more to express their service to God than Judaism requires of them. My point here is that this is certainly not the case for all. Jewish women need not seek Shul participation in order to be fulfilled as a Jew or as a woman. Ask Talia.

That said Talia freely admits that what she does is not for everyone – certainly not everyone has her skill set. But she is living proof that an Orthodox Jewish woman can indeed have it all. Without the need to eat, live, and breathe the feminist clarion call of egalitarianism. There was not a hint of that in this very beautiful article in the Chicago Tribune.

At age 35 she has succeeded in business in ways that would make many even successful men envious. If things keep going her way, she could be the next Mark Zuckerberg. All while maintaining her role as the quintessential Jewish woman without sacrificing one iota of her Judaism. My hat is off to her.

*(Unfortunately one must be a subscriber to the digital version of Chicago Tribune to see the article online. But it is a front page story in the business section – print edition.)

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Harry Maryles

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/can-an-orthodox-jewish-woman-have-it-all/2012/11/08/

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