I’ve come to realize that most of the shocking commentary that I read about goings on in the frum community doesn’t really effect most people on a day to day basis. Unfortunately or not this includes me as well, I just worked 70 hours in 5 days and in that time I obviously didn’t have much time to be shocked about the latest frum guy to molest some kid or not give a get to his wife. I didn’t “hear” or think about any scandals, IDF draft/civil wars with the charedim, or about how some Rabbi said some racist thing that we all need to act shocked about. In fact, I didn’t even have the time to formulate a contrarian opinion that would stir the pot and piss people off and make them laugh. In the end, I came to realize that I’m only really “shocked” by what’s going on far away from my little shtetl when I log on the internet and read about it on Facebook or in the Blogging world.
Whenever people who know me from my internet work meet me they always ask why I’m still frum if I’m constantly surrounded by scandal and hypocrisy. They also ask about people in general who remain tied to the frum community, even though it’s in shambles. I always tell them that if they ventured off the internet for a few days they probably wouldn’t know about it’s supposed shambles. Inevitably, this is how I came to realize that the frum media, bloggers, social media folks, and forums are all about people seeking shock value. Much of the time it’s this defcon 5, ultra high alert mode that people take when they are pissed off about something they read. I’m guilty, I do the same darned thing, but I’m quick to realize that there are still people who have no idea that there’s a movement for Orthodox girls to put on tefillin or become Rabbis. There are plenty of people who have no idea what the initials OTD stand for, and there are plenty of folks, even YU guys who had no idea about the recent Semicha scandal.
In reality, much of the shocking news stories and scandals that come out in the Jewish media, never make it beyond the little shtetl of Jews sharing the hell out of it on Facebook and Twitter. Here and there, the stories wind up in the NY Post and if they’re really special, like my dear comrade who tried to sell his olam habah for a lot more than a pot of beans, but it’s rare that many people beyond the hyperbolic town criers find out about this stuff.
I tried to explain to someone recently, that on a day to day basis (unless you live in Israel or some other horrid place like the New York Metro area) much of what you hear is not going to affect you. In fact, I’m not sure that sharing an article with a cute opinion meant to evoke how cool you are for supposedly reading that article is much more than slacktivism. Hence, the reason I get such nachas from folks who actually get off their asses and go to protests, rallies, and participate in campaigns to actually get something done. As a blogger who lives far away from folks who wouldn’t let me wear shorts and sandals to shul, it’s hard for me to show up an anti-abuse rally or a protest against a guy who won’t give a get.
All I’m trying to say is that I feel like everyone wants to throw in the towel because the frum community is going to shit, but if you step off the hyperbolic, shock driven social media for just a second you may realize that much of what’s being said shouldn’t prevent you from trying to be better than the rest. You can share articles all you want, but in the end the individuals make up the whole. Shit that sounds super sappy. Share this damned article and write something clever to make people think you’re cooler than you really are.
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