My Personal Exodus From Facebook (Parshah Shemot)

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For the past month, I have been considering quitting Facebook.

It’s not that I don’t love viral videos of cats chasing laser pointers, or everyone’s opinion on the president, or whatever Miley Cyrus is up to. Well…actually…

I don’t love any of those things.

Sorry cats. Sorry politicos. Sorry Miley.

And yet, like a moth to a flame, before Modeh Ani pops into my head, I’m wondering if anyone has read my latest post, or liked it, or commented on it. When people don’t comment on something I deem important, I feel betrayed. And when I post something stupid that gets 100 likes, I want to throw my lap top out the window.

While I won’t pretend that my exodus from Facebook event remotely mirrors the Book of Exodus, which we begin reading this week, I will say that the word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, means “narrow” or “constrained”. And frankly, Facebook makes me feel constrained, for three reasons.

First, I have no idea what is actually going on in people’s lives.

The idea of Facebook is to keep in touch with people. But I have so many Facebook friends that I have no idea what anyone is actually up to. I don’t have the brain power to process hundreds of pages of updates every day — to sort out the “I have cancer” posts from the “I just pimped out my farm on Farmville” posts. Keeping up with everyone means minimally investing in people. And I’m not interested in that.

Second, I have no private life.

Boohoo, right? I’m a blogger — so my life is predicated on total transparency.

Truth is, I don’t share everything I could. I hold back a lot. I don’t have the patience that some people have to create all these “family only”, “friends only”, “not my boss” type filters. I already have a filter that does all that automatically. It’s called “not opening my mouth”.

Plus, I know a bunch of people who have fake Facebook accounts for their public persona and one (often under their Hebrew name, how funny is that?) where they Facebook as the REAL person they are. That’s a lot of work!

Lastly, it prevents people from going where they SHOULD go to learn about the PunkTorah community.

Facebook for me has become a place where I promote PunkTorah, OneShul, Darshan Yeshiva and my band. That’s it. And those different projects already have Facebook pages. There’s no need for all that cross posting. I’m just spamming.

When people go on my Facebook instead of the PunkTorah, OneShul and Darshan Yeshiva pages, it robs them of their involvement in the community that we have spent years building together. I promise you that the other members of the PunkTorah community are way more interesting than me. Just hang out at OneShul for a week. Believe me — you’ll meet some fascinating individuals!

Facebook, for me, is a metaphor for Mitzrayim, for constraint. It limits the power of my personal friendships, my connection to all of you, and to each other.

So I’m leaving.

Not to worry — it doesn’t change anything in PunkTorah land. Everything else stays the same.

And I’m not ditching social media all together. I’ll still be blogging here, leading events at OneShul, and I’ve even started toying around with a personal Tumblr account.

You’ll get enough of me. Don’t be scared. It’ll be OK.

Rabbi Patrick is the executive director of PunkTorah.

  • Jenny Star

    Oh no, I agree, facebook is a pit. I can’t seem to get anyone to engage with me anywhere else online anymore. It’s quite annoying.

  • PunkTorah

    totally! i moved over the tumblr and its going great…although i went from 800 friends to 14…but what can you do? -patrick

  • Jenny Star

    But who can keep up with 800 friends!