Social media is one of the most dangerous things that we have in today’s society. Of course, it has its
good points: easy to connect with family and friends; easy to get important messages out to the world etc. As in everything, there are benefits if utilized correctly and responsibly. But the dangers are great, especially for young people.
The media tries so hard to shape our ideas, opinions, moral values etc. If we do not have a strong moral compass, sometimes people can be swayed in a wrong direction without even realizing. The subtle negative influences are very strong, especially on the youth.
Why do people start to think it is okay to dress less modestly? Why do people think it is good to post their lives on social media? Why do people allow social media to influence their thoughts and family values etc.? It is because we lack true connection to Torah. We think that it is okay to compromise on certain things. People rationalize to themselves saying “this is not so important and wont affect my Jewishness or my connection to Hashem”. People fall into what is called a “spirit of folly” which convinces them that certain things do not matter. People feel they have a right to pick and choose what they will observe and discard other matters. People may feel a subtle anger or despair in life and subconsciously they think if they will copy the celebrities and people they see on Instagram and social media, perhaps they will be successful to find a good marriage partner etc. But what people do not see on social media is the suffering or misery of the people. If you look at the lives of celebrities, Hollywood stars and international actors, you will find the majority are either not married or divorced one or more times. They are far from happy and content in life. But they mislead people with their pictures and news that is spread around about them. And people get influenced in a wrong way.
Not only is social media a problem, but movies and tv shows are another huge problem. Why? Because instead of getting excited about Judaism and Torah, people get into binge watching and excited over imaginary nonsense that even depicts things totally against Torah. Soon people may find their excitement in Torah and mitzvahs diminishes a bit and they feel a conflict within themselves. This is especially true of young people who may feel bored and unhappy and they try to find happiness in distracting their minds through movies etc. But in the long run, the result is destructive for many people.
On social media and on tv, everyone has an opinion which they present as an absolute “truth”. And many people have a difficult time sorting out what is true and what is not. That is because we need to use the Torah as our guidance: that is the only absolute truth in the world.
Unrectified imagination is at the root of so many problems today. People want happiness and try to find it by imagining a different life. Instead of living in reality and dealing with life with a sense of purpose, people want to escape from their situations and retreat into an imaginary world….but that does not work on a long term basis. We cannot live in imagination. There are now virtual realities which people actually “live” in, as if it is a true world.
Truthfully, what we all need to do is to imagine ourselves in the time of Moshiach. That is the only healthy imaginary world which will actually materialize very soon. This is how we should train ourselves to think. We should emulate tzadikim . We should not emulate or look up to actors and actresses or celebrities. But social media does not publicize holy people and holy lifestyles. Social media publicizes life styles that bring jealousy, immorality, immodesty and disappointment.
It behooves each of us to take responsibility for our households and our families and limit the influence of social media and make sure our children know who to look up to and what is truly of value in life. Now more than ever parents and educators need to guide children in a right direction of life.
Tomorrow is Yud Shevat, the day of the passing of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe and the day that his son in law took over the mantle of leadership. The last maamar the Previous Rebbe wrote and the first maamar the Rebbe said when he became Rebbe was Basi L’gani and it speaks about the spirit of folly that confuses people and causes them to fall to a level even lower than an animal: lower even than intellect. We need to change the darkness of the spirit of folly into the folly of holiness: a level higher than intellect. That is how we can change darkness to light. And that is what this material world is all about: making every aspect of it into a place where the light of the Creator can shine and express itself. To do that we need to discard falseness and anything that interferes with our proper observance of Torah and holiness. We need to discard all foreign ideas and attitudes that contradict truth and work to prepare ourselves, our families and the world for the coming of Moshiach.