As you requested, I have written down some of my thoughts that I shared with you last week at the JCC concerning our contemporary culture. As you know, I did not grow up observant nor have I studied in a yeshiva; these thoughts are my own from what I have culled from our culture and from my own personal life:
I believe that social media is highly addictive and is an environment that affects people in not only conscious but unconscious ways that can be detrimental. I’ve seen many successful people that have become addicted to social media, engaging in “people talk” and “people watching,” and observed how it adversely affected their lives.
I personally have found that starting with keeping Shabbos I could have a wonderful 24-hour hiatus from social media. After realizing this benefit about two years ago, I got off social media altogether, which has transformed my life. Rather than turning to browse what everybody else is up to (aka gossip), I now spend my time reading and learning and starting to develop an understanding of who I am, the essence of my being.
My guide and environment is no longer seeing and watching what others are doing on social media (the cars they have, the friends they have, the places they travel, the beautiful women that hang on their shoulders, or the number of kids they have). I now use my immediate environment of Torah-knowledgeable Jews as my barometer for what is right and wrong. And I’ve come to realize that everything that is good in life is the byproduct of doing the right thing. Things that provide immediate pleasure are usually fleeting.
Recently I heard Rabbi Taub from Pennsylvania speak at Learningfest and say that the only way to cure an addiction is a spiritual relationship with God. My ultimate conclusion is the following: There will be many people becoming religious in the next few years. The psychological benefit is so tremendous and it will be a response to addiction of instant gratification and social media and narcissism of our society. Being disciplined about speech is the keystone habit change that provides individuals with the sensitivity to transform their entire lives.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you and your readership.
It has truly been refreshing to watch you in your odyssey of the discovery of Torah thought and depth, and how profoundly you have inculcated that depth into your own thoughts and in your life. You have embarked upon a journey which affords yourself the opportunity to enrich your life greatly, while freeing yourself from the shackles of much of the narcissism and gossip so prevalent in our generation, as you have commented.
I would only hope that this depth will not remain, as you note, a response to the instant gratification, social media and narcissism of our society. Torah should not be an escape from negativity, although that negativity may be the catalyst for one’s search into Torah. Ultimately one needs to recognize the wisdom of Torah in its own right, and how its depth and profundity is what has kept us alive as a nation despite myriad negative influences and philosophies over the generations which have challenged its wisdom and our eternity. Keep up the great work!
Wisdom of Torah not found on social media