A popular social media influencer was hosting a live Instagram session on unplanned pregnancies, when an imposter, for all intents and purposes, gained entrance into the live story and rudely exposed himself to the horrified viewership.
Thankfully, I wasn’t on the live at the time and was only informed of what had happened a day later. And while there will always be people who use these incidents as an opportunity to blame the victim, that isn’t the purpose here, in this column. Although the featured topic of the live is one that should cause us to pause and reflect on how we, a nation of priests and a holy people, have devolved, what occurred during that session technically could have happened on any Instagram live, regardless of the topic of discussion. Similarly, the message here is not related to the dangers of the internet or the need for oversight or preventive tools to avoid these slip-ups in the future.
I am not diminishing the importance of kedushah; to the contrary, if we were aware of just how holy we are and what our collective mission in the world is, then we would not be hindered by the negative influences lurking behind the screen of our devices. It almost feels as if our response to incidents of this nature is out of the left’s playbook when they’re confronted with issues of gun violence. The problem isn’t with the internet, which is a tool that was created by G-d to flood the world with His knowledge and awareness; the issue is with the way we are utilizing it.
It may seem somewhat cliché, but I believe there is significance to the fact that Apple is the leading tech company in the world. Their logo, an apple with a bite out of it, reminiscent of the forbidden fruit that Adam and Eve partook of on their first day in this world, isn’t mere coincidence. If you remember the story, the Torah tells us, “The woman saw that the tree was good to eat from and it was desirable to her eye.” Had Adam and Eve waited just a little bit, the tree that was forbidden to them would have become permitted. The issue was that they exhibited self-interest in their use of it.
G-d did not place us among billions of gentiles to hide in a corner busying ourselves with our own private service. I’ve written this previously in my articles on the root of anti-Semitism, in that the world is waiting for us to step up to the plate and teach them about G-d, ethics, and morality. The important thing to bear in mind, though, is that we need to use these tools without focusing on how we could personally benefit from them. The moment we project self-interest in our use of these powerful, world-changing tools, we have squandered the opportunity to transform the world for the better.
The internet and social media and the advancements in this Information Age have been harnessed to further success in business, leisure, and entertainment, and I believe this has made us most vulnerable to the ills that continue to flood society through the misuse of these great inventions. Self-interest is perhaps the biggest issue that we as a people need to deal with. It doesn’t just concern our safety on the information highway, but also affects the genuineness of our Torah study and mitzvah performance.
As a continuation to last week’s discussion on the significant day of 20 Shevat and the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s succession of his father-in-law, the Friediker Rebbe, in a sichah on 10 Shevat, the Rebbe wrote that our motivation in fulfilling mitzvos should not be for personal dveykus, or to fulfill the will of our Creator, because all of these on one level are permeated with self-interest. The only motivation that we should have in this world is to fulfill G-d’s purpose in placing us here, in making this world a dwelling place for the glory that resided here prior to the sin.
Certainly, nobody intended to see anything wrong on the live last week. But the truth is that utilizing these transformative tools to further our own interests will lead to these types of mishaps happening time and time again. There is no chiddush in a deranged individual exposing himself on camera in that way. What he did bring to light, though, was just how careful we need to be when stepping in front of the camera.
Yochanan Gordon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Yochanan’s articles at 5TJT.com.