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Facebook Overexposure
Mom with a View

Facebook Overexposure

Facebook poses a serious threat to our character.

by

“What’s your position on Facebook?” my friend was asked at her daughter’s high school interview.

My friend, a computer-savvy and hands-on parent was prepared. “All of our computers are in an open public area with access to websites closely monitored. We also have an excellent filter in place and I have sole knowledge of the password.”

“Great,” responded the principal, as she scoured her list for the next question. Clearly they were done with this topic. But had they really covered it?

Of course, it’s important to supervise our children’s involvement with social media. But the reasons are deeper and more complex than the aforementioned principal and most of us recognize. It’s not just about predators. That’s the most sensational and frightening threat. There are no words to deal with the horror it invokes. But (I’m without statistics here but I’m sure my readers will set me right), I’m not sure the chances of an actual person-to-person encounter are that great. Yes, one is too many. But when one danger takes all our focus, we may miss more subtle or insidious risks.

I think that Facebook poses a serious threat to our character – in a few ways.

Another friend of mine told me that, for her contemporaries (closer to my age than high school!), Facebook has become a brag book, an opportunity to post about exotic vacations, fancy home remodels, and children’s college acceptances (it’s the traditional holiday letter on steroids!) - all under the innocent ruse of “just keeping you up-to-date, just sharing information.”

Not only does my friend suspect their motives but she laments how it affects her – her wonderful family trip now seems inadequate, her house too small and poorly furnished, her children’s academic achievements lackluster. The flame of jealousy has been ignited and fueled. Feelings of dissatisfaction are stoked as others chime in with their “I can beat yours” vacation and home stories. And, of course, with it the potential to put down this “fortunate” friend through slander…But that isn’t all.

The often overlooked consequence of posting every (or main) details of one’s life on Facebook is a loss of modesty, of dignity, of preservation of the inner self. If every idea, photo, experience, is shared with (hundreds of) friends, what remains of our inner core, our interior selves? Judaism teaches modesty as a way of being – not just in dress but in attitude. It’s how we speak – the tone, the words, the content. It’s how we carry ourselves. It’s how we guard what’s private, what’s special, what’s unique. It’s the sense that the life of the soul takes precedence over the life of the body. It’s the opposite of Facebook exposure.

Everyone else is sharing every deal; how can I not respond in kind? I confess to not having faced the challenge. I never go to the site. I’ve never friended or been friended by anyone (I think I still have a fulfilling life!). I haven’t experienced the thrill of contacting long-lost acquaintances or the ease of the instant advice on what to feed my kids for dinner.

I haven’t bragged about my last vacation (maybe if I could remember it I would) or read of anyone else’s with eager (and frustrated) longing. There are enough opportunities for jealousy without seeking out more.

I haven’t been put in a position where spilling personal details is de rigueur – and so easy to do. I haven’t faced the challenge so I don’t have all the solutions or strategies.

But I do know that when we have something special and precious, we want to preserve it. We put fences around our fancy homes and hide our fine jewelry in our safes. Fences help us avoid temptation.

We’re all at risk. Facebook encourages us to let down our guard. It rewards behavior that is the antithesis of the Jewish goal of modesty. The result is an unfortunate insensitivity to the idea of privacy and inner dignity. I’m afraid that may be the biggest risk of all to our children, and the one my friend’s principal was the least prepared to confront.

Published: December 22, 2012


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Visitor Comments: 15

(14) Anonymous, September 2, 2014 6:58 PM

I agree that I wouldn't be caught on Facebook

I have friends and family who are so caught up with posting everything on Facebook, that they do not understand why I am not on it. I do not want the world learning stuff about me or my family. It is private. What so often happens, though, is that I rarely hear from people I thought were friends or even family members. Their comments are that I already posted it on FB. You mean I have to send you a separate, personal email with the photos? My husband retired from law enforcement and has told me how his still-working friends in the police search through hundreds of FB pages. Even the bad guys can't help bragging to their "friends" on FB and have found themselves under arrest. After posting your personal life on FB, try looking for a new job. Where do you think your potential employer will be looking? And those posting those fancy homes and cars, I hope you got the money for them legitimately, as I would guess the IRS is also checking out the pages. One friend who has a FB page and got on me for not being on so she wouldn't have to send me separate emails is married to someone who is working in a high level job in Wash. DC. I hope she has been discrete since I know her husband's potential employers were checking her out. And, yes, I have lost potential real friends since I won't use FB. I have never heard from them again.
My husband, being the investigator got onto FB but didn't complete his page or whatever. All he wanted to do was snoop. But, he got kicked out of FB for not keeping his page updated. These people who do update frequently must not have a job, anything else to do since it could be an all day thing.
I treasure my privacy. I want to know who my real friends are either via email, phone calls, or face-to-face. And for those who think the privacy settings are good on FB, Zuckerberg, the founder of FB, got hacked!!

(13) yahu, January 8, 2013 4:08 PM

a coin has two sides

there is always good side and a bad side to anything, it all depends on how you decide to use it, some people spend their time on internet browsing X rated sites, while other use the time to increase their Torah knowledge with same internet, same with facebook its either you spend your time on Torah stuff or on material things, its an individual choice to make but keep in mind that the fate of the jewish nation maybe in your hands.

(12) Lyone, January 1, 2013 4:07 PM

With "friends" like those?

Sounds like your various "friends" have lousy relationships in their lives! And that has nothing to do with Facebook, that has to do with them! What kind of people behave like that? I am in touch with dozens of people from college and high school on Facebook, as well as with their families. In addition FB keeps me in touch with people from places where I used to live. We share words of love and encouragement with one another. I never get a sense of competition or jealousy, envy or one-upsmanship. When my friends and I share joys, we are happy for each other--and this makes it possible to seek much needed support from one another when we face the inevitable troubles in life.....when parents fall sick, when winter storms cause car accidents, when children go through operations, etc. It sounds to me like the author needs to shift her focus away from the medium, and take a look at why her relationships are the way they are. Real friends are happy for one another's happiness.

(11) Simon, December 27, 2012 2:29 PM

Taming the untamable. The greatest threat to our children!

This article hits the nail on the head. True, face book has come to quicken our pace to either life or doom. As long as anybody has face book there is a wide road before them controlled only by themselves for good or for bad. A potato that is spreading disease to all the vulnerable is found here. Let the parents not be too late in addressing how to handle face book in the lives of the naive as well as themselves. The pace to self destruction or self improvement is faster in face book.

(10) Anonymous, December 27, 2012 3:23 AM

There are many people w/ health issues who are isolated and FB helps

Thank you for the thought provoking article. I don't think everybody needs FB but for some who are more isolated it is a blessing. There are many people w/ health issues and FB helps out. Others just have transportation issues or no community. Deaf Jews support each other on FB. People impacted by autism support each other. Counter missionary groups help Jews entangled in cults. Recently we wrote on FB to people near Sederot when the missiles were scaring them. We are unable to travel much now that we are older but it is a joy to keep in touch w/ family and friends. There are many people who just share inspiration on it. Thank you again for this important article. It is very important to consider what we post.

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