September 28, 2010
The Ten Commandments of social networking
(Page 2 - Previous Page)
6. Don’t cyberbully.
Shaken by the suicide in January of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince, the Massachusetts high school student who killed herself after being severely taunted on the Web by classmates, schools are tackling cyberbullying head-on—and Los Angeles’ Jewish schools are no exception.
Online bullying usually begins with students insulting a classmate online, a practice that Bruce Powell, head of New Community Jewish High School, believes is widespread. “Any high school principal who says that it’s never happened is either a liar or a fool,” Powell said.
Schools can’t monitor everything their students are doing online, but potential problems can be identified early. To stop online insults from turning into full-blown cyberbullying, administrators are facilitating face-to-face conversations. “We will get the kids into the office and ask them, ‘Does this make sense in our value system?’ ” Powell said. “‘Are you guys really that mad at each other that you want to trash each other in public?’ ”
“We have a responsibility to act with righteousness and holiness,” said Temple Judea’s Moskovitz, “and what we say matters. And just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s not real.”
Indeed, very real hate speech is proliferating on the Web: The Simon Wiesenthal Center recently reported two dozen “Kill a Jew Day” pages in just one week to Facebook officials. The pages, since removed, were inspired by “National Kick a Ginger Day” pages that appeared last November that actually resulted in attacks on red-haired students in schools around the world.
7. Don’t update your Facebook status on your honeymoon.
Social media connects us to people and information from around the world; it can also lead us to cheat on the people we are closest to.
“I faked going to the bathroom to check my e-mail,” said Tiffany Shlain, a filmmaker whose forthcoming documentary, “Connected,” looks at the ways in which humans are (and are not) engaging with each other in the 21st century. “And I was with a good friend. It was horrible. I don’t know what came over me.”
The more that is available online, the harder it is to resist that urge. “I can sit down at my desk, and I can get immediate access to all the world’s literature, research, music, images, videos, right?” said Ken Goldberg, professor of robotics at UC Berkeley. “I can get everything. Friends? I can access everybody instantly.”
Goldberg, who is married to Shlain and collaborates with her on her films, pointed out that the “hyperavailability” pulls both ways. “We want everything else to be available—but now we ourselves are constantly available,” Goldberg said.
The time has come to push back against the pull of our devices, and Goldberg suggested one simple act to start with: “Don’t let people text in your presence,” he said. “Tell them you need their attention.”
8. Don’t steal content; share.
For Jews living in accordance with halachah—and law-abiding Americans—there’s no ambiguity when it comes to illegally downloading music, movies, software, books or any other intellectual property.
“Because business ethics are among the most central legal obligations of Judaism in all the Torah,” said Rabbi Dov Fischer of Young Israel of Orange County, “there is just no way that a person can identify as a practicing religious Jew while actively or regularly downloading or sharing protected intellectual property without paying the required fees.”
But if social media pose a challenge to those who wish to protect their work, new technologies also present opportunities for unique projects that could not have been imagined a generation ago. The Open Siddur Project, for instance, allows individuals to craft their own personalized prayer books from texts that have been uploaded to their site, which includes texts that are in the public domain (like the prayers said by Jews living in the Byzantine empire) as well as prayers written by ordinary individuals who choose to share them.
“The golden rule here is that when people share Torah,” said Aharon N. Varady, founder and director of the Open Siddur Project, “Torah is increased in the world.”
9. Poster, beware: I bear witness to everything, forever.
“Everything can teach us something, and not only everything that God has created,” the Rabbi of Sadagora once said to his Chasidim. “What man has made has also something to teach us.’”
In the story, as told by Martin Buber in “Tales of the Hasidim,” the rabbi of Sadagora learned from a train that “because of one second, one can miss everything.” From the telegraph, he said, we learn “that every word is counted and charged.” And from the telephone, we learn “that what we say here is heard there.”
So what of the Internet? “What I can learn from the Internet is: What I say to one, is heard by all,” Temple Judea’s Moskovitz said. “And that has benefits to it”—Moskovitz only needed 112 characters to tweet his opinion of Chelsea Clinton’s wedding in July—“and that has some real dangers to it. It’s every rabbi’s greatest dream and worst fear—that what I say to a person can be heard everywhere.”
10. Your disconnected neighbor covets your Wi-Fi; if you can spare the bandwidth, leave your network open.
In Chapter 19 of Leviticus, God instructs the Israelites not to harvest the corners of their fields, not to gather the stalks of wheat that fall from bundled sheaves, and not to pick every last piece of fruit from their orchards and vineyards. “Leave them for the poor and for the stranger, I am the Lord your God,” the passage concludes.
What of the poor person without an Internet connection? The stranger in a neighborhood full of password-protected networks?
“People should share their Wi-Fi,” Shlain said. (The folks at Wired magazine certainly agree.) “If you’re all nervous about privacy,” Shlain said, “I think you’re living in the wrong century—because privacy is an illusion at this point.”
Reboot’s Cove was less enthusiastic about the prospect of letting others hop on to his home network. He did suggest an alternative, though. “I do believe in public Wi-Fi,” he said. Until Los Angeles follows in the footsteps of Boston, Philadelphia or Binghamton, New York, Angelenos can get connected at branch libraries and numerous coffee shops across the city.
1 | 2