3 Shvat 5781 / Saturday, January 16, 2021 | Torah Reading: Va'era
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The Chosen Media    

The Chosen Media

I have read about Palestinians cheering on the IDF, and longing to become Israeli citizens. I saw a story of mothers working 18-hour days to put their kids through school…


I always thought the media was a place where you were brainwashed into being angry. Then I found out that it really is what you make of it.


Quora is my favorite social media site. On it are questions about any subject you could imagine. Instead of posts about what others bought, thought, or fought. People answer questions. It can be something specific like how to use a specific programming application, or the best ingredients in pasta sauce, or it can be general like – what was the hardest challenge you had in life?


The answers share a common theme: Goodness. Honesty. Inspiration.


People have no reason to lie. They have no desire to badmouth anyone else. There is no opinion, judgment, even resentment when others share their wisdom and life's hurdles with the world.


This is a social media channel that brings out the best in all of us. The honest desire to share with as many people the things we have learned in life, and to help those who can benefit from their hard earned knowledge.


Other social media sites want us to parade what we have. To elevate ourselves by who we know, what we bought, the restaurant or club we enjoyed special access to. We are encouraged to taunt people who don't agree with us.


We finish reading posts like these feeling upset, outraged, and a little helpless. We get defensive, and hardened in our opinions. It stifles our G-d given ability to see things from another perspective and expand our horizons.


Quora is different. The things we experience are independent of one's financial or social status, even a political position. Most of what we go through in life is the same as what everyone else faces. What makes us different are our choices. Quite often people share the challenges they face in making decisions, and they open up to everyone about how they face personal situations that are the opposite of envy.


I have read about Palestinians cheering on the IDF, and longing to become Israeli citizens. I saw a story of mothers working 18-hour days to put their kids through school. Tales about cops stopping people, and going out of their way to give them warnings and not tickets because they can plainly see that they cannot afford to pay the fine.


When I am done, I feel ashamed. Ashamed at my anger towards people. Embarrassed that I could snap judge large groups of people.


Where did all that come from?


The mainstream media. They never talk about inspiring stories. They don't make positive news as entertaining as negative stories. They don't highlight people working together to make life better for as many people as possible. Come to think of it, they don't teach me anything new.

The people on the front pages are not everyday people. The front pages are as exclusive as the posh VIP suites the people on those pages are given private access to.


If I decide to learn my lesson of the day on a news site, or certain social media pages, I know how I will feel when I'm done. If I must go online to read something exciting, I also know that there are places where I will feel good about being a human being on this earth – and grateful to Hashem for making me one!


Just like the remote control, I get to choose what's being broadcast into my brain. I can manipulate how I will feel, and how those feelings will direct the next words that I say, or deeds that I do.


We are commanded to love Hashem with all of our hearts. How can we perform this commandment if we aren’t in a position to love at all? To serve Hashem, we have to do everything we can to empty our soul of anger, and fill it with sympathy, compassion, and nonjudgmental kindness.


I cannot tell you where to look online to find peace, but I have learned there are some places to avoid at all costs.  



* * *

Dovber Halevi runs the website http://www.proudlycandid.com/. On it you can find 1,001 Reasons to Love Israel and the logistics behind How to Enjoy a Better Life in Israel.

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