I fall into a minority category. It’s not because I’m a woman. It’s not even because I’m an Orthodox Jew, although we only make up less than one percent of the population. In fact, I am unlike 70% of Americans nationwide because I am not on social media. That includes Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook.
People assume it’s for religious reasons, and that is certainly one factor. As a rule, I prefer to filter what penetrates into my immediate surroundings, so I can shelter myself against the immorality, pornography, and profanity that is so prevalent today. However, since the vicious attacks on October 7, I have discovered another reason for my abstention.
As Hamas savagely slaughtered, mutilated, and tortured innocent Jewish civilians, the entire scene was on display. People could sit comfortably in their homes and watch with revulsion what was happening to my Jewish brothers and sisters. They could lament the unbearable atrocities and sigh with inconsolable anguish at such exhibitions of brutality. But I would not.
These videos and images went viral, as people eagerly swiped through the latest barbarity. They gasped in horror as Hamas gleefully tormented hundreds of innocent civilians. They emphatically decried Hamas’s actions and wondered sorrowfully how such cruelty could still exist in the modern world. But I did not.
So what did I do? I followed the news vigilantly. I collected names of IDF soldiers and prayed for them. I said Tehillim, often crying as I recited the age-old words that accurately depict the current crisis in Israel. I contacted legislators, asking them to unequivocally condemn Hamas and support Israel, in rhetoric, arms, and money. I gave charity to organizations in Israel. I tried to take action in ways that would assist my family who are under vicious attack. In fact, it’s because of this goal, that I stayed off social media and successfully avoided seeing any graphic content.
To some, it may seem counterintuitive. Wouldn’t I be supporting Israel by witnessing Hamas’s violence firsthand? Wouldn’t that allow me to feel my nation’s pain? But to me, it is the opposite.
Those who were slaughtered, mutilated, and tortured are not rapidly increasing numbers in a casualty count. They are not mere victims of brutal terror whose lives until this moment, were of no account. They are people who lived vivaciously, accomplished tremendously, and were loved unconditionally. Rather than sheer numbers, they are individuals who contributed greatly to the world. They are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, husbands, and wives. They are friends and neighbors who were placed on this earth for a unique purpose that only they could achieve. Those last fatal moments are but a minute aspect of their lives.
Because they are this, their degradation should not be exhibited for all to see. They deserve that their privacy be respected and that their dignity be honored. They deserve to be treated as the people they are, and not a spectacle.
Perhaps those who doubt the severity of the attacks do need to see these pictures and videos, to be shocked out of complacency. There are numerous skeptics who cynically assume that Israel is blowing the situation out of proportion, and cannot be convinced via any other means.
But I do not. My people have been tormented and oppressed for thousands of years. We were exiled from nearly every country in the world and forced to reestablish ourselves over and over. In every generation, there are those who wish to annihilate us, and it is only G-d’s strength and will that save us every time. It should not come as a surprise that antisemitism still remains in the modern world.
Nevertheless, this reality does not ease the suffering of my people. Each time, the agony is renewed. It is heart-wrenching, but I know that there are things I can do to help repair the damage. I can pray more and connect to G-d. I can give charity, and lobby on behalf of my nation.
I can also feel their pain while allowing them the dignity that they deserve. That is why I will not be getting a social media account anytime in the near future. My family’s pain is not a spectator sport, and I will not watch it.