By Emma Teitel - Friday, February 8, 2013 - 0 Comments
The information superhighway is so personalized that it’s often just a road to what you already know
In the third year of Facebook’s existence, I sat in the back of an after school Judaica class called Torah High and listened to a rabbi proselytize about the evils of social media. Jews don’t usually believe in the devil, but I suspect he did. The Internet, the rabbi said, was an evil place. Facebook, YouTube and Google were where vice found company; where freaks found freaks, tax evaders found tax evaders, terrorists found terrorists, and Jewish men found Gentile women. It was a world built on individual choice and preference and given every choice imaginable, we were bound to make the wrong ones.
Torah High isn’t exactly Yeshiva, or rabbinical school: a typical afternoon consisted of kosher pizza (looks like pizza, tastes like chicken) and awkward, long-winded lectures in pop philosophy. I imagined the Torah High rabbis as the televangelists Jews never had, stuck interminably with a shiftless, godless audience. But that day our rabbi was onto something—not the iniquity of cyberspace (I was 15 at the time and would have been at home, on Facebook, if I wasn’t listening to him admonish it), but the notion that pursuing your interests to the end of the Earth—even a digital Earth—was, maybe, not ideal for the soul. What our rabbi didn’t know, however, was that the future of the Internet’s most insidious damage lay not in people pursuing their own interests, but in our interests pursuing us. Continue…