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Eat, Pray, Facebook

Eat, Pray, Facebook

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I can't help but laugh when reminiscing about the days when internet was a sacred luxury. When those fifteen minutes on CompuServe were simply the fifteen greatest moments of my life. A cosmos where I could indulge in an intense game of Tetris, key in hotmail.com, and, wait for it… check my email. After hours of begging, I'd finally be granted fifteen minutes of cutting edge fun on a computer which took up only about three-quarters of the desk. Well, ten-and-a-half minutes of fun to be precise once, of course, I deducted the four-and-a-half minutes it took for the computer to suffer a seizure while emitting nightmarish sounds I could only assume to be aliens invading cyberspace.

Has Facebook become the modern day identity crisis?It's safe to say we've evolved a great deal since then. Our computers are finally cured of the convulsions, we're getting our full fifteen minutes of Tetris and we're carrying live, face-to-face conversations with people all over the globe. What's more is, we can fold the entire world wide web into the back pocket of our jeans. For G‑d's sake!

But we're not impressed. We're not wowed or enchanted. This is life as we know it. We can't imagine the world any other way. No, we won't imagine it any other way. We've been shocked into a syndrome where if it's not nano, it's colossal, and if it's not high speed, it's painstakingly slow. Email is the new letter, text is the new phone call and writing on the wall is the new Hallmark card.

Welcome to the age of Google, the era of YouTube and the reign of Facebook. Welcome to the homes we've built in a galaxy far from street signs and traffic lights, where the real estate is marked by icons and cookies. A world where what you see is what you get, including the additional play by play of every thrilling moment of our days, live footage from our nights and evidence from our action-packed adventures. Leave a message in my inbox, send me a virtual holiday card, graffiti my wall. You're invited to my home any old time you'd like, sans the polite knock. Flip through my photo albums for your entertainment and should you still feel bored, my journal is available for midday reading. It's labeled "Notes" if you'd like to leave your comments on the intimate details of my life.

We seem to wear our persona on our screens, leaving almost nothing to the imagination. So I can't help but wonder: Are we ultimately losing touch with what really makes us click?

As far as Facebook goes, this is the extent of me: I was born in November. I have green eyes and black hair. My hobbies are shopping, dancing, and riding rollercoasters. And I like Oprah.

But is that really me? Could that be all? One picture frozen in time that stares at my 326 friends and begs them to confirm my existence? Am I so truly single-facetted that I can condense all eighteen or so years of my life into two paragraphs titled "About Me"?

In a world where birthday gifts can be copied and pasted, an irritating friend can be deleted with just a swift click of the mouse, and any knowledge of current events comes from a place called "News Feed," I have to question: Has Facebook become the modern day identity crisis?

Just like that, personalities are getting swallowed into the vast, echoing walls of cyberspaceYou see, on Facebook, you and I are virtually the same. We might have similar interests, share the same friends, attend the same parties. We might even have the same pout. We are exactly alike, separated only by the name above our photo. Character and individuality seem to be getting zapped like "pop-ups" and, just like that, personalities are getting swallowed into the vast, echoing walls of cyberspace, never seen again.

Yes, this new era has cut long distances into fractions but, essentially, it has created a distance that can't be reached by planes or webcams. Not a distance between me and you. But a distance between you and you. A distance that can only be eliminated by a search engine significantly more sophisticated than Google – a real, honest soul search.

The search for the real you.

Who are you?? If you click past your name, de-accessorize your application-ridden page, and zoom in beyond your face, who will you find beneath it all? When push comes to shove, when statuses are obsolete, and Facebook is out-trended by, say, Twitter, who will you be then? Who were you before cell phones, through the days of spasmodic computers dancing to the tune of CompuServe, and through fads like AIM, MySpace and the coveted Facebook? Who is the person behind your computer screen? Who is the intrinsic you?

In the end, physicality is transient, emotions are fleeting, and all sign of PC-related bliss vanishes the moment you click the "x" on the right-hand corner of the page. The only thing left when you flick off the monitor and shut down your Windows, is your soul.

But the soul is so abstract, and often tricky to relate to. The terms are foreign, the anatomy unfamiliar, the entire concept is somewhat difficult to stuff into your mind. Perhaps the reason we find so much comfort in Facebook is the simplicity. The ability to classify ourselves within the clean, clear-cut walls. In the blue and white boxes, you are who you say you are. You're figured out. Your soul, in stark contrast, is intangible. Ungraspable and incredibly elusive. You can't see or touch it. You can't chase your soul and lock it in a browser. Suddenly you are indefinable. Suddenly your identifying measurements have escalated from a 4X6 photo to a number much too large to process. And when you turn around, you find Eternity trailing behind your beaten Converses. You are so much, it starts to make your head spin. You literally have the entire world folded into your back pocket.

You don't just have the New York, New York network; you have InfinityAnd that, my friend, you will come to realize, is the upside of possessing a soul. The sky is the limit. No, the entire universe and beyond. Take advantage. Take advantage of the extra features, the timelessness, the fact that it can never get stale like the other has-beens that come and go. Accept G‑d's invitation to attend Eternity. The bouncer checks your ID at the door. "Do you have a soul?" they ask. It's the most exclusive club on West 27th. So exclusive, all the celebrities are clamoring to buy one.

A soul is like a string of zeros. 000,000,000,000. Zeros that are nice to look at and are faintly reminiscent of great wealth but, let's face it, have the value of, well, zero. If you would, however, place a single "1" before them, you would become ridiculously rich.

Your soul allows you to utilize those G‑d-given zeros. By tapping into this newfound energy, you now have the unbelievable capacity to break out of your natural tendencies and the ability to make things you once thought impossible, possible. This is an awesome responsibility, but a sacred luxury.

So go ahead and search your PC. Behold, in a hidden folder, you will find an encrypted file. Decrypt it. Let it unravel in its natural form, uninhibited and in Times New Roman. Let it run wild. Let it let you do things you never thought you could. Go ahead: become the spiritual equivalent of Bill Gates.

But know: Truly getting to know the G‑dly spark that rages inside you hardly takes a nanosecond. It takes a lifetime. Take it one day at a time. Enjoy the journey. Revel in the knowledge. Bathe in the light. Take pictures (be sure to upload them!). And remember, you aren't limited to the one-dimensional picture pasted on your profile page. You are infinitely dimensional. Because you have the dimensions of G‑d coiling within you. You don't just have the New York, New York network; you have Infinity.

And that's more than Tom of MySpace can say.

So hang up your spacesuit. Why float through cyberspace when you can fly through Reality? Shop designer, but don't get fooled by the knockoff version of you in the display window. Never sacrifice eternal worth for provisional validation. And as you type, upload and post, bear in mind: Comments are just comments. Pictures don't have mouths. And you don't get to keep the virtual gifts you get for your birthday. Facebook is never gonna be as good as real life. And really, any place where you can throw a sheep at someone ought not be taken too seriously.

Log out, click back to reality.

Mushka is a writer from Buffalo, New York.
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Karen Sullivan May 3, 2011

Eat, Pray, Facebook My Dearest Mushka,

I am SO very impressed with your article. I knew you were a great writer way back when.

Keep up the great work! You are following in your dad's footsteps with his insightful E-Lights. Maybe you can be a guest writer one Shabbos. Reply

Alexa P. Brooklyn, NY August 27, 2010

Amazing. 18 years old and so impressive. Great article. Keep reading what you're reading and writing for all of us to share in your thoughts.

Writing- whether novels, poems, letters, emails, or texts- is always a way to know someone, just in varying degrees. The _real_ question one must ask: Does the extent of our writing (i.e. REAL letters vs. text messages) limit us, and keep our growth stifled.

Like the story of the Japanese carp, a fish that grows as large as the vessel in which he is put, we, too, can benefit from some more in-depth, lengthy, real, and even difficult (in substance and structure) expressive writing. Sharing allows us to grow, beyond ourselves and thru those with whom we share. Reply

Nurit San Francisco, CA August 26, 2010

Too many words... Maybe, it's just a writing style thing. The bottom line is ANY addiction brings you away from yourself and from the real life. Reply

Chaya Greensboro, NC/USA August 26, 2010

Profoundly Touching! I am shocked beyond belief right now, why you may ask? Because right before I read this article or even knew about - I posted on my Facebook that I wanted "friends" of mine to delete me if they were only interested in getting personal data about me and not really becoming "friends" again after all these years. I felt like I was letting Facebook rule my life and I did not like it, so I wanted to make a change - so I did. I also read an article on chabad.org about ex-s contacting you through Facebook and that is what printed my initial action. Anyway, I am truly glad for Facebook for this one thing I do have to omit - the fact that I get to read a lot of stuff from Chabad.org. I definately believe that G-d played a huge role in what went on here this morning in my life. Meaning He gave me options and choices and suggestions and I just happened to choose the correct path. I guess that is all for now! Thank you for listening. Reply

Anonymous June 23, 2010

Sarah? I can't help but wonder if the tone of these articles originated from a series of Sex in the City. Carrie Bradshaw is a New York newspaper columnist, fashionista, and later, freelance writer for Vogue. Her weekly column, "Sex and the City," provides the title, story lines, and narration for each episode. This article wiil take on a different meaning after watching that show. Reply

Bracha LA, CA June 20, 2010

very refreshing article--thanks! Reply

Anonymous Rehovot, Israel June 6, 2010

comment on the comments just to point out, i don't think the author was saying facebook or an other social website is bad, but rather that one must be careful not to lose oneself in it. Of course there is good in everything, including facebook, one should just take it in moderation. Reply

Anonymous brooklyn, ny June 3, 2010

luvvvvv this i really enjoy reading anything you write :))) Reply

Anonymous Laguna Woods,, CA June 3, 2010

an excelllent article! Reply

Anonymous Jacksonville, FL June 3, 2010

Just about everything has the potential to be good or bad. Social networking has many positive things to be said about it. Among which is that for the home-bound cyber social networking is not only helpful but essential. Outreach to those in need is another good aspect of cyberspace.

On the other hand there are many negative thing among which is cyber bulling. And a major concern is when people become so wrapped up with their computer and keeping in touch with other via cyber space that they have a self-imposed homebound and start to lose real human contact.
Reply

Yisroel Melbourne, Australia June 2, 2010

Well written... As usual, this topic makes for a great article to express ones thoughts. But, like your article says, thoughts are not all like minded :P

Everyone I know that has Facebook (including myself), fully realizes that your 'Info', or 'Status', is just a heading. Just like on a packet of chips, it says 'Lays', but inside there is allot more than just the name. So too, after reading my friend's 'I love spending my time making music' status, I can talk to him via 'chat' and learn that he likes to specialize in Jazz and R&B.

As for soul, the above comment says it as clear as you can get.

Obviously there are plenty of people who fit into the category you mentioned, but at least in my age group (21), I don't see it very often.

P.S. This was not meant to knock the article in any way, I loved it! Reply

sue Kanata, ON June 2, 2010

great essay! I love your article, but, surely Facebook or any blog, email etc could be a way to not only confirm what people have been networing spiritually, but to help others to source the info realistically. That way there is an educational quantum leap.
As for soul, Facebook's small notes or your email forwards can still be endowed with soul. Reply

Julie New York, NY May 31, 2010

Really good article, well-written! Reply

shells UK May 31, 2010

thanks for sharing your thoughts always you add another dimension and insight, however is this the WHOLE story?

for like Chabad, i also am in Facebook and for me ... Facebook was the only place i found i was able to connect with like minded People when i found G-d to be alive and welcomed back into my life and have - i thank G-d - been able to use it to find my extended Spiritual Family... who use Facebook and other networks... to help lift each other's spirits, give added support, share love and unite in prayer as well as provide online help, support and guidance throughout our global community with unconditional love.

which is where also... i first met Chabad.org... in the early days when i accepted gifts and cards and had a wall that could be written on... i had the Chabad thought of the day visible on my opening page. Reply

Linda New York May 31, 2010

Beautiful! What a fresh way of presenting what we've lost in this fast-paced technological universe and what we have to gain through the G-dly soul inside of us. Thank you! Reply

enjoyed Chicago, IL May 27, 2010

great i love all your stuff, its awesome - i check out your blog every once in a while Reply

david melbourne, au May 17, 2010

great article! Reply

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