Thursday, June 28, 2007

Is Facebook Good for the Jews?

Well, I guess i could apologize for being away for a month, but it would just be lame. I just plain ran out of steam for a bit, but I am back. Especially after i see that my pal, and blogger par-excellence Treppenwitz linked me to his page. And by the way, Dave, if you are reading this, one of my board members is now a religious reader of yours, and passed along the post that included a reference to the Case Foundation. I now have board members telling me about your posts!!!
Anyhow, I wanted to know how many of you are on facebook? It is a kinda new phenomena. Not that facebook is new, it is just that everyone seems to be using it now. I have been "friended" by three new people this week, including one that I was sure I did not know. For the un-initiated, although I imagine that is not many of you, facebook was created to allow college students to interact and find each other online. As it became more popular, it spread to non-college students. Today, professionals, students of all stripes, and kids are using it. It is supposed to be limited to those over the age of 18, but in reality, no one checks the ages. My son's 12 - 14 year old friends all have a facebook page, and they spend all day (when they can) talking on it, updating it, putting photos on it. On the one hand, it is very scary. On the other hand, it is great. I have been aware for many years of the potential danger of the internet. People expose themselves in ways unknown to us just a mere ten years ago. Horror stories are legion, and more than one death has resulted from chance internet meetings that went bad. On the other hand, it allows us also to connect in a way unknown before. And in these scary, wondrous times in which we live, that can be a great thing.
Facebook allows people to join common interest groups. I have to admit, I am not a facebook pro, so i have not joined any, but i have looked around at them. This morning, i noticed that one of my young "friends" joined a group called Kehana Tzadak, which is really the ramblings of adolescents on the thoughts of Rabbi Meir Kahane an activist Rabbi who was assassinated in 1990 for his radical thoughts that have become more in vogue as the Arab - Israeli conflict has continued. Like him or hate him, the fact that there is a forum for kids to talk about these ideas online is a good thing. We have a generation of kids who will not know what a record is, or an eight track, or a beta vcr. But they will know how to use a computer, and will be able to access people and information all over the world. That is a great thing. The hope is that they will come to use it responsibly.

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