What would it have been like had there been Facebook at the beginning of time?
The first three things God would have put in His status: “Just created the
Then, “Whoops forgot there’s no one else out there. Gonna
Then probably something like, “Why on earth did I do that?”
Underneath which it’ll say, “Snake likes this.”
God would have sent a
message to Noah: “Bringing a flood next week.”
Noah would have responded
with something like: “Lol. Bring it on.”
And I suspect the story
of Joseph and his brothers would have panned out altogether different. Rather
than selling him down to Egypt, Joseph would have put on his status: “Had
another dream about my brothers last night.”
The oldest brother Reuben
would have replied: “ROFL” (rolling on floor laughing for technophobes). Simon,
the second and more hot-tempered brother, would have responded: “Gonna teach you
and your technicolor dream coat a lesson.”
JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:
Under which it would say,
“Andrew Lloyd Webber likes this.”
What of our forefathers? How would they
relate to the idea of Facebook? As they spent their lives reaching out to as
many people as possible – looking to make a real difference to their world –
would modern technology have helped them to further their cause? I think they
would have made tremendous use of, current haredi opinion notwithstanding; but
social networking? I think they would have despised it.
The definition of
a friend used to be someone whom you actually knew and genuinely cared about.
Today so many of our friendships are little more than a picture upload, a status
update, a comment or a virtual poke.
Barack Obama has 15 million Facebook
friends, but I wonder whether in fact there are even 15 people with whom he
actually shares a personal relationship. Perhaps most telling is the one man who
has more friends on Facebook than anyone else. Michael Jackson, a man with more
than 21 million friends, is not even living.
THE REAL issue is that this
is not just a Facebook phenomenon.
It is a more far-reaching worry that
is endemic in our modern society. No one likes to get upfront and personal, and
technology has facilitated a way to avoid the warmth and intimacy and become
emotionally stunted in the process.
Don’t we smile inwardly when we get
an answering machine rather than having to speak to a person? And how often do
we avoid calling someone simply by sending a text and an e-mail? “Words that
come from the heart penetrate the heart.”
That is to say, when I express
to you the sentiment that is in my heart, you’ll feel it too. A few clicks and
keystrokes are hardly going to impact someone else emotionally.
of you that is genuinely concerned about another has to reach out in a very real
and tangible way.
There are over 300 million people just on Facebook who
share some form of online social connection. All those cyber friends disappear
at the click of a mouse. But on average, people have only five really close
friends and those are face to face. They’re always there even when your life’s
screen might go dark. Or as someone once put it: “Lots of friends will ride with
you in the limo. But what you want is someone who will take the bus with you
when the limo breaks down.”
Our forefathers were committed to the ideals
of friendship, selfless kindness and deeply committed relationships.
knew that when you truly care about another, you have to be there hands on for
the other. Only by being there in person can you reach through the heart and
touch someone’s soul. They would have abhorred the superficial connections that
are generated in our modern society.
WHEN PEOPLE fall out for a lifetime,
when a family broiges lingers for years, when we look at our world today with
the staggering statistics as we know them it’s because we’re sorely missing
these real relationships.
When someone I know posts on Facebook about the
loss of a near relative, and she gets virtual condolences from people who all
live within close proximity, you know something is wrong. When you see
increasing people you know going wanting emotionally, it’s because they probably
have Facebook friends more so than real ones. And with the rapid-paced advance
of technology, it certainly begs the question “what will the friend of the
future be?” If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of
human relationships – real relationships, direct communication, true
friendships. That’s the way our ancestors did it in the past and that’s the only
way we should be doing it for the future.
I’m not naive enough to think
that we can reverse the trend. With laptops and smartphones making up part of
every child’s daily technutrition, social networking is here to stay. But as
responsible parents, we can certainly control the amount of intake. I think
every home should institute a Facebook free time zone. At the very least two
hours each evening, say from six till eight, so that rather than walking in from
school and signing on immediately to talk to their BFF (best friend forever) who
they just saw on the bus, they simply spend the time with their CLP (caring
loving parents) talking about their day. Even more ideal would be one day on the
weekend. Twenty-five hours of no social networking would compel children to
venture out of their rooms and face the real world.
I suspect a large
proportion will find this difficult at the outset, which in itself reflects the
addictive reality. But with parental perseverance and consistency, children will
rediscover the beauty of relationships and the therapeutic benefits of personal
interaction. Some might argue that the school environment facilitates this. But
if the sum total objective of education is to enable children to develop as
well-balanced citizens who can cope in the real world, it is precisely the
socializing outside school, i.e.
in the real world, that has to be
Silicon Valley will have you believe that social
networking is the way of the future. Facebook, Twitter and the likes have
hijacked our kids. We have to get them back.The writer is a lecturer and
broadcaster. He is a rabbi at the Mill Hill Synagogue in London and chairman of
the Rabbinical Council, UK.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>