How exhausting it is. I recently had the chance to talk about, from the heart, with people close to me, and they all admitted that they are tired of all the time and energy they expend managing their virtual persona. It’s a second job – and a full-time one at that.
One journalist spoke about the compulsion she feels to run every scoop through social networks and to respond wittily to every criticism she receives. Teenagers spoke of how not even 30 minutes pass without them uploading a new story, and how tiring and incessant this chase after “hearts” and “favorites” is.
I sympathized with them very much. I, too, feel that we experience less of what we do and are preoccupied more with how to share our experiences with others. To be honest, sometimes we don’t event really experience any more. We don’t share reality, but rather stage reality for the next post.
In the beginning of this week’s parshah, Aharon HaKohen lights the menorah. In his commentary, Rashi presents a fundamental educational principle that has to do, not only with the menorah, but with the inner fire within us. He writes: We need to light it “until the flame rises on its own.”
Many commentators explain that our fire must burn independently, without relying on the environment. Rashi’s comment is a metaphoric call for selfhood, for originality, for an identity that is not based solely on how many shares and likes one gets. It is a call for making up our own minds, for forming our own thoughts, before checking what all the people who shape public opinion say.
It seems to me that this ancient call is more relevant than ever. It is a challenge to live a life of internal content without refreshing the browser 100 times a day.
I wonder if I’ll manage to hold back and not check how many likes this post has received.