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I’m really not into Facebook.

I got an account two years’ ago because all the book marketing stuff I was reading told me I HAD to have Facebook, if I wanted to get anything done online!!! So, I got an account, and used it to set up some ‘fan pages’ for my blog and books, so I could post stuff from Emunaroma straight from my blog, and that’s it.

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 afterwards!

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 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 there in these people 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 your mentally-ill Facebook chums.

But what do I know?

The last few months, any lingering love affair I still had with the news has died a fast death.

I’ve been broadly ‘news-free’ for about 8 years, give or take, and I haven’t missed it all. But with the recent upswing in violence here in Israel, I’ve been reading more news headlines than I have done for years.

Usually, I only check after a bunch of sirens, and thank God, it’s been much quieter in my neck of the woods this week. But I remember logging on to Arutz Sheva two week’s back, the day after the terrible double murder of Aharon Bennett and R Nechemia Lavi in the Old City, and being shocked to my core that they were offering video footage of R Lavi being stabbed to death as the ‘editor’s pick’.

I know, we’re all so used to the ‘bread and circuses’ approach of modern society that we don’t bat an eyelid any more at how voyeuristic, callous and un-Jewish all this ‘viewing’ actually is.

Let me ask you something: how would you feel if your dad, or your husband, or your son, got viciously stabbed to death, and then the next day your friends and neighbours (or worse, your kids’ school-friends) were busy watching it on their i-Phones. How would you feel?

I was pondering that quite a bit the last two weeks, because while the headlines have ebbed, and the families of Aharon Bennett and R Nechemia Lavi have faded back into relative obscurity, the real impact that these real tragedies had on these real people continue.

Even though we watch them on the internet, they aren’t film stars being paid to play the part, just to entertain us and give us something to blog about, and to talk about, and to share on Facebook. They are real human beings.

Let me tell you a little bit about what’s happened to family Lavi, now that things have gone ‘back to normal’. Mrs Lavi was a teacher in my daughter’s school. She’s left her job now, because the family couldn’t bring themselves to move back to their home in the Old City after the shiva, and have now moved to Bet El, to be close to both sets of parents.

Many of the kids have had to move school, as it’s too far to travel back and forwards to Jerusalem every day.

That murder people were gawking at didn’t just kill a beloved abba and husband; it threw 8 people’s lives into complete disarray. The family effectively lost their dad, lost their home, lost their jobs and sources of income, lost their community and lost their whole way of life – all at once.

Of course, that’s not deemed ‘newsworthy’, so you won’t be reading about that any time soon as you scroll through the latest headlines. And that’s why I hate the news, and I hate all the mileage that people are making in the blogosphere out of the ongoing tragedies occurring here, and also elsewhere.

This stuff is not just fodder for more opinion pieces, more speculation, more breathless, excited, giddy posting about the ‘latest’. The impact of the headlines that are so quickly made, shared and forgotten can and does last a lifetime on the people involved.

And if we forget that, and we get caught up in chasing the drama instead of remembering the tragedy, that bodes very badly for us and our collective humanity and caring.