2 comments on “BBT Links for the Week Of June 14th 2012

  1. great excerpt of the asifa article. these were not the only points of the article, btw. quote: To my recollection, the speakers only discussed the evils of the internet and failed to mention any of the incredible benefits of the technology. This is unfortunate because it presents an appearance of failing to fully think through the issues. I, and I’m sure many others, find this offputting because we experience the benefits every day. Perhaps the speakers felt that these benefits are so obvious that they do not need to be mentioned or that describing them would dilute their message of warning. I disagree. I see it as an appearance, perhaps misleading, of distance from the reality, a lack of comprehension which diminishes the strength of their important message.

    Among the communal guidelines promulgated (click on image on right to enlarge), the first two limit internet usage to absolute necessity and non-entertainment/social use. Business, as mentioned above, was explicitly permitted by the speakers. Let us assume that shopping, banking and other personal household needs are included. Searching for medical information, as well. But something is missing—personal education.

    Do these guidelines allow you to download a Torah lecture from the many websites providing them? Can you read a Torah essay posted online? Can you download Torah books from the vast collection at HebrewBooks.org and similar websites? General knowledge, as well, is available online. Can you look at Wikipedia to learn about a topic that strikes your curiosity, say the life cycle of a grasshopper? Can you read the news online? If it is considered entertainment, then presumably not, not even at Yated.com. But even if it considered accessing knowledge, this topic is unclear under the guidelines.

    Additionally, many of the negative aspects of the internet discussed can be countered without withdrawing from the internet. Withdrawing from all unnecessary usage is only one solution to internet overuse. Another solution, less simple but more moderate, is to reduce usage. Techniques exist for individuals to cut back on their time online. These were not discussed at all, which I think was a mistake because people can easily fool themselves into thinking that all of their extensive time online is necessary for business. Even if true, you still need to live a life offline. Internet addicts need help from therapists but even mere enthusiasts can benefit from professional methods. Additionally, strategies exist to remedy the short attention span that the internet seems to be generating. These are fairly straightforward and fit naturally into the Orthodox lifestyle.

    Facebook and Twitter can be addictive but they don’t have to be. Most people I know on social media are able to limit their usage without totally removing themselves. Other than the time aspect, the other main complaint against social media is the overexposure and self-absorption they foster. I don’t believe this was raised at the Asifah but even if it was, it can be easily remedied. I have written elsewhere about how these tools can be used properly (link).

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