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Is it proper to spend time on social media?

 

Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet
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Social media has provided a unique opportunity to engage with the world in a whole new way. Many Jewish organizations have found that social media is the optimum way by which to engage audiences and market events. During a year of lockdown, social media also provided much opportunity to broadcast shiurim and spread Torah to many who might have previously never had any real affiliation.

But like any double-edged sword, social media is also the bane of society. It amplifies news for eyeballs and clicks, and people are constantly consumed with everything going on in the world. Because of that, all sorts of mental health issues have risen in recent years.

There are also those who spend much time gazing at strangers’ holiday snaps, or spending hours fine tuning selfies in order to post on social media, and then check back every day to see if they’ve acquired more than just the two likes already there – one from their best friend and the other the anonymous friend who is really their mother trolling to see what they’re getting up to.

Like nuclear power that can either light up a city or wreak havoc, it all comes down to how one utilizes social media. If one uses it as a tool for spreading light (perhaps with occasional news and entertainment updates), then it is serving a purpose, in keeping with the concluding mishnah of Avos: “Everything was created in order to enhance Hashem’s glory.” Otherwise it is an incredible time waster, can prove addictive and indeed wreak havoc with one’s life.

– Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, a popular Lubavitch lecturer, is rabbi of London’s Mill Hill Synagogue

 

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Rabbi Zev Leff

Obviously, the reply to this question depends on many factors. First, how much time is one spending, is one addicted to this in a way that interferes with more important pursuits? Second, is one using it in a positive manner to communicate necessary and permissible messages and create positive and permissible relationships or, chas v’shalom, the opposite (i.e., gossip, lashon hara, etc.). Third, does one’s connection to social media spill over to other prohibited or at least questionable pursuits that are halachically prohibited as being indecent, immoral, or apikorsos.

The bottom line: social media can be a tool in the right hands when controlled and used in moderation for purposes that are positive and halachically permitted. Or it can be a totally evil pursuit when these guidelines are not followed.

– Rabbi Zev Leff, rav of Moshav Matisyahu, popular lecturer and educator

 

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Rabbi Ben Zion Shafier

While there are many advantages of technology, such as convenience and communication, one of the great downsides is social media. If you count the amount of time spent versus the benefit, you will see very little is accomplished while an awesome amount of time gets gobbled up. Even worse, there is a tremendous amount of lashon hara, debasing people’s reputations on a regular basis.

There is also a significant amount of jealousy and misguided ideals that are expounded and spread. When everyone is showing themselves in their most wonderful states, it naturally causes people to have unrealistic expectations and fosters a very unhealthy atmosphere.

The only minor exception, one might argue, are WhatsApp groups when a person has a limited group for their family or something like that. Even still, WhatsApp could lead to problems or issues.

Short of that, I would be hard pressed to understand what true benefit someone gains by social media, yet the damage caused by it is very real.

– Rabbi Ben Zion Shafier, founder of The Shmuz

 

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Rabbi Marc D. Angel

Assuming we live to age 90 and sleep an average of eight hours per night, we spend 30 years of our lives asleep. We spend many additional years at work; and other years on our basic bodily needs, waiting on lines, shopping, going to the doctor and dentist, dealing with illness, etc. If we spend one hour a day watching television or on social media, that’s another 1/24th of our lives gone.

Time is our most precious commodity. It is limited and irreplaceable. If we keep this in mind, we will be very careful in how we utilize the time that the Almighty grants us.

Having said this, it is important for each person to decide for him/herself how much time to devote to social media. In many cases, people use social media to stay in touch with family and friends who live far from each other. Without this means of communication, these relationships would suffer. In other cases, people turn to social media to keep up with news, communal events, and items of general interest.

While each person should not squander precious time by overusing social media, neither should anyone decide what is or isn’t proper for anyone else. Each person has the right – and responsibility – to use his and her time in the way that seems best in their personal judgment.

– Rabbi Marc D. Angel, director of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals

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