So in the ongoing debate of how to safely combine the internet and the frum community I decided to touch on a subject that I have actually not seen anything about. I have seen and heard about frum people in chat rooms trying to pick up others for sex, the famous chasidish gay sex ads on craigs list, the ever present porn industry- which I personally think runs the internet and what images pop on to the screen without you knowing or being able to stop it. Basically the frum community has a big problem with the sex happy internet, however I think there is a larger problem brewing and its effecting our youngsters.
This problem is the growing popularity of Myspace.com and Thefacebook.com- two networking sites which are growing in popularity. A recent business week was even titled Myspace Generation- with users approaching 100 million this is a sexual predators fantasy land- and it is constantly on the news for this reason. Myspace is totally different then say a chat room or other socializing venue. Myspace users constantly post personal information such as school, birth date, town location, and physical features. Furthermore most of the pre-teens and teens that use this site and are addicted to it lie about their age and post sexually revealing pictures. Its totally different from the good old days when the hip thing to do wa go on AOL Jewish Chat and lie to girls to try and pick them up- everyone lied and no one believed anyone- furthermore rarely did people meet. Every week I hear about another sexual predator caught with a 14 year old who thought he was meeting some fellow high schooler for pizza. My buddy is an NCSY advisor and uses Myspace to communicate with his NCSYers- him and his wife are constantly shocked when they see kids they know who are quite young talking very detailed about what they want to do sexually and posting half naked pictures of themselves. Myspace is KEWL so to speak among this generation and is ever growing in popularity- I just read that college acceptance boards check Myspace accounts to learn more about their prospective students. Chabbad Rabbis also use Myspace to keep in touch with students and this Rabbi I know and his wife are always saying how disgusting their students profiles are- and how you would never suspect this by talking or even being friends with them. The wife of this rabbi was even invited to be a member of the club “hot sexy Jews”, flattering but also disturbing.
Thefacebook.com is the other site which connects mostly College and High School kids together. It is more interesting because you can search by school and slowly all the Yeshiva high schools are being added. The Yeshiva Colleges of Stern and YU are there and one has access to all the profiles and can see pictures. One look at some of the girls from Stern reveals that it’s not just some random kids from Alabama posting half naked pictures.
Plenty of “frum” people are on these sites flaunting all, but countless other frum people are on these sites just trying to stay connected in he digital age. How come the physical safety of children from the internet is rarely discussed, instead its all about imagery and exposure. But I think “real” danger is imminent and its only time until someone figures out that girls like boys and visa versa and you cannot stop that- but you can teach people about the dangers of these sites.
Finally there is an issue in which the frum community and the community can help each other with. Parents these days are frantic about this issue at hand and are scurrying at coming up with ideas with which to try and keep their children safe.