Op-Ed: Danger ! Facebook
Rabbi Tzvi FishmanTzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Jewish Culture and Creativity. Before making Aliyah to Israel in 1984, he was a successful Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbis A. Y. Kook and T. Y. Kook. His other books include: "The Kuzari For Young Readers" and "Tuvia in the Promised Land". His new book, "Secret of the Brit", is scheduled to be published shortly. Excerpts can be found at www. jewishsexuality. com.
Until recently, I didn’t bother with facebook, thinking, why waste my time with the superficialities of social networking when I could write much deeper articles and books?
Then, after all the publicity which facebook received over its role in international demonstrations and revolutions movements, I figured, why not give it a try? Since I write a blog at Arutz Sheva's English site about aliyah, I thought that maybe facebook could help me spread the message of aliyah to Jews around the world. So I started making friends….
It seems to me that some of the dangers of facebook are already known, especially concerning our children. First, the world of facebook is a very egotistical place, with everything centered about ME – how I look, what I like, what I do, and what I think – ME, ME, ME, ME. Facebook gives everyone a chance to stand out and be “famous,” which is not necessarily an admirable Jewish trait.
Furthermore, on facebook, you can be friends with anyone, religious and non religious, Jewish and gentile, Jews for Israel and Jews for Jesus. And these new “friends” can send you anything they want, like dirty jokes, trashy songs, indecent photos, and links to all kinds of “cultural” garbage that many parents wouldn’t want their children to encounter.
Additionally, your list of new facebook “friends” can include perverts of all persuasions, child molesters, porn peddlers, and even murderers, may G-d have mercy. We’ve all heard horror stories of how a young and innocent facebook enthusiast arranged to meet one of his, or her, new friends, and ended up being molested, raped, and even killed.
Most parents are aware of these dangers. “It won’t happen to our kids,” we say.
But I am writing this warning to alert people of yet another very real danger – facebook pornography. Frankly, in my facebook ignorance, and during my first week of networking, I didn’t discover anything overly worrisome. It seemed that whoever was running things at the other end of the computer, wherever that may be, simply didn’t allow pornography onto the network.
But then I noticed that there was an option to “search,” like with Google and Yahoo, and I curiously typed in a key word or two. BONKERS! Was I ever shocked! Pornography at its worst, just a click of the mouse away – the most pornographically graphic and explicit photos and videos, the very glimpse of which still has me shaking.
Don’t believe me? Never seen it on facebook yourself? Well, you’ll just have to take my word.
Do you have a teenager who is doing badly in school? Do you have a kid who hates to pray? Does the tiny kippah he wears come off his head the moment he’s down the block? Does she dress in ways you never imagined? This may be why. Nothing turns off a person more from Torah than an exposure to porn.
And while I agree that at first glance, facebook may seem to be kosher, with a little “ingenuity,” a whole world of pornography is waiting. And don’t delude yourselves – when it comes to computers, our children are geniuses – they can figure out everything.
If you are Israeli, your Hebrew-speaking son or daughter may come home from school with a flunking grade in English, but you can be sure that if he or she’s a facebooker, he knows, in perfectly spelled English, all the immodest key words, phrases, magazines, and types of intimate apparel in the world.
So parents, beware! Either ban you kids from using facebook, or be sure you have a foolproof filter that doesn’t allow them to see all of the junk that’s out there. They may yell and scream and threaten to boycott the house, but their fury will pass.
In the Torah portion of “Shofetim,” it states: “When you come to the Land which the L-rd your G-d gives you, do not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There must not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter to pass through fire…” (Devarim, 18:9-10).
In my opinion, that is exactly what you will be doing if you allow them to self-immolate with facebook.