Until about two months’ ago, when I was so desperate for The Secret Diary of a Jewish Housewife to do well, I decided I should probably have more of a presence on Facebook. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was starting to accept ‘friend’ requests, as that instantly transformed me into someone who was ‘consuming information’ from Facebook, and not just putting it out.
I had about 12 friends until yesterday.
Yesterday, I clicked on a ‘friend notification’ message and found myself in the middle of one of the most poisonous, disgusting and mentally-ill pieces of writing I’ve ever had the misfortune to come across on the web.
Worse, this masterpiece of slander and evil speech had 10,000 ‘likes’, and a slew of equally warped, poisonous comments.
It was an orgy of hatred and bigotry. There’s simply no other way of describing it.
And the fact that it was written, commented on and ‘liked’ by so many externally frum Jews, in complete contravention of all the laws of evil speech and slander, all the laws of avoiding machloket, all the laws of seeing our fellow Jew with a good eye, and respecting Torah, and Torah scholars - well, the Shechina surely tore kria and sat shiva for these people’s souls.
Tens of the generation’s leading rabbis were publicly slandered and scorned. Tens of thousands of upstanding, God-fearing Jews were arrogantly dismissed as being gullible, brain-dead ‘cult members’ - almost as sub-human, in the author’s eyes, as people who voted for Trump…
Dear reader, I literally felt like I was going to throw up, I got such a strong whiff of Gehinnom floating across from the computer screen. I decided there and then that I had to show God that I wanted absolutely no part, no connection to anything so frankly evil - so I permanently deleted all of my Facebook accounts, there and then.
It’s like when Korach went after Moshe Rabbenu: anyone who had even the slightest connection to the guy, or his followers, even to the smallest degree, also got sucked down into the pit with him for eternity.
I felt SOOOOO much better after I pressed 'DELETE'!
But still very disturbed by what I’d seen. I started to ponder, what is it about Facebook that’s causing such rampaging mental illness to be accepted as ‘normal’? How is it that Facebook is bringing out the very worst in people, and turning formerly nice, thoughtful individuals into twisted, hate-filled demagogues?
After pondering it, I think there’s a few things going on. Firstly, Facebook constantly bombards you with pritzut - immorality, licentiousness, lack of modesty, in every sense of the word. It’s in all the pictures of people sharing very private occasions very publicly, all the comments, all the ‘look at me!’ and ‘please like me!’ attention-seeking.
A Jewish soul gets so de-sensitised to ‘gutter culture’ on Facebook, it can no longer easily recognise the difference between right and wrong, good and bad.
Facebook also exacerbates whatever mental illness a person has in the first place. It encourages bullying narcissists to bully more, depressed types to feel even more like sad, invisible losers who are getting left behind by life, people with anger issues to ‘take it out’ on whichever poor sap’s post they happen to see first, whiners to whine more, exhibitionists to show off more, critics to criticise more - you get the idea.
And again, the more this behaviour is indulged in, the more ‘normal’ it becomes.
Writing reflects the inner dimension of a person much more accurately than the external social manners and mores so many of us have perfected from a young age. How a person writes, is how a person is.
That’s why there’s so many obvious psychos on Facebook, and so many people with obvious (and worsening…) mental health issues. That stuff is actually present in our society all the time, just few places enable it to be expressed as easily, or as publicly, as Facebook.
Hang out with psychos, hang out with sociopaths, hang out with narcissists, hang out with mentally-ill people - and you yourself will start to think the way they think, and speak the way they speak, and do the terrible, evil, anti-Torah stuff they do online (and elsewhere…)
It’s properly scary.
So, I’m incredibly relieved that God permanently sprang me out of Facebook yesterday. As time goes on, it’s increasingly becoming the 8th circle of hell - a kind of modern add-on to Dante’s inferno.
I can’t think of anything more hellish than spending eternity online, plugged into Facebook, and swapping hate-filled, arrogant lies and calumnies about Tzaddikim and other upright Jews with a bunch of mentally-ill Facebook chums.
But what do I know?