Last May the Ichud HaKehillos LeTohar HaMachane (Union of Communities for the Purity of the Camp) filled Citi Field for a sold-out men-only rally against the internet. According to the New York Times (May 17) one of the organizers defined the goal as “to raise awareness about how, unmonitored, it poses a grave risk to the community.” The issues raised include pornography but also social media and the addictive pull of the internet.
Let's be honest. Everyone knows that it is possible to get sucked into the internet. For some it is just a time waster as you surf looking for some distraction. For some it is a dangerous stumbling block leading people to watch pornography, to make illicit liaisons with others, to engage in gambling and more.
At the same time the internet is a powerful portal to learning and positive engagement with the world. A variety of orthodox institutions, including Chabad, Aish, Yeshiva University and many yeshivot, have elaborate websites promoting Torah learning and values. The internet can be a potent tool for positive learning, social action and community organizing.
From a Jewish point of view one can certainly highlight various values that deserve consideration when using the internet (or TV). Here are a two that come to mind:
I cannot speak for an orthodox point of view, but from my perspective there is much positive to be gained from the use of modern technology. The challenge is to know yourself. If you need to exercise restraint, for whatever reason, then you need to find the ways to do so – but that is as true for the internet as it is for the aisles of Walmart or the allure of a casino. As always, the goal is to live a balanced life.