Monday, February 12, 2007

(another brilliant picture borrowed from the brilliant gheemaker)

I’m beginning to think that I might need an internet/blog break.

Ok.. maybe not beginning – I’m completely convinced that I need one..

I spent the past shabbos with some nice families in a frum neighbourhood and I noticed something strange.. I was looking at everyone from a jaded blogger's perspective. These weren't just nice families, dressed in the latest trendy frummy fashion, with their little kids trailing behind them.. all of a sudden they were frustrated husbands, flirting wives, kids running off the derech, corrupt rabbis, dysfunctional families, sexually deprived youth, sexually obsessed chassidish ladies, discouraged frummies..

What I saw was disturbing, and frankly I don’t think it was justified. The people I met were lovely. They were friendly, warm, interesting and there was no reason to judge them so harshly, but the words I had read in the past few months just kept reappearing in my mind - blocking any kind of objective opinion I could have had.

It’s true that in the past I came across plenty of corruption and disappointment in the frum community, but over the years I’ve learned that humans are humans and just as I am weak at times or have wanted to give up, just as I often do things I later regret or disagree with – so do others. Just as others in the world succumb to temptation and negative urges, so do frum jews, and overtime I’ve made peace with that. The ideal world I first encountered eventually vanished and I came to accept the more realistic, complex human world I found instead.

But what happened on shabbos was different. For every person I came across - I found a blog to match them up with. I imagined them hiding with their laptop typing up their frustrations. What were originally personal issues suddenly became community problems.

I don’t want to be naïve but I also have no desire to go back to being a cynic. If I’ve learned anything in the recent past it’s that so much of how we interpret things, how we perceive and understand our environment is based on the attitude we choose to have. I have the ability to create worlds in my head that have very little to do with Reality and to believe them wholeheartedly. Coincidentally most of what we do believe is part of that imaginary reality we create. But I don’t want to be a cynic.

I have no doubts in my mind that there are sexual predators, cheating husbands, adulterous wives, miserable kiruv rabbis, disillusioned youth or corrupt leaders in the community, but I dont beleive it is as prevalent as it seems to be when your main sources of information are blogs or the 'highly reliable' internet news sources. Personal accounts and case studies are not reliable sources, they are the stories of individuals - one person’s reality, based on one person’s experiences and perception, a reality tainted by their experiences and their personal understanding of the universe.

The most amazing thing I realized however is that as much as I’m careful with what I read, the effect seems to be inevitable.

What the world hasn’t been able to do to the frum community, we are doing to ourselves - we are self destructing. In the name of bringing down taboos, destroying secrecy, opening up communication, we are violating privacy, tearing down families and communities and creating irreparable hopeless cynics.

When faults and weaknesses are magnified and gawked at and overanalysed, we lose the ability to perceive holistically. We are naturally pulled towards destruction, erosion, negativity, and feeding those forces only makes them stronger. We fool ourselves into believing that if we uncover it we will free ourselves of it, when in fact we are just strengthening it – and in the end we are the ones who suffer from it!

Global warming is a result of excessive pollution, they say, and we’ve all polluted - but none of us would purposely harm the environment if we could see the results of it instantaneously. The fact is that we can disconnect the cause from the effect. Similarly, In the spiritual world, we poison our souls, slowly, subtly, without realizing it. We distance ourselves from the result and sometimes even justify it, and the next thing we know..our heads are filled with negativity, gossip, accusations and doubts.

A majority of blogs criticize how judgemental others are, whether it’s white shirts, or hair coverings, everyone seems to feel victimized, stared at, unwanted, yet, the blogs end up coaching us on how to be judgemental. I can honestly say that I have not looked at one frum man’s shirt in the past 6 months in the same way as I used to. As soon as I notice a man's shirt color, I categorize him as either “the white_shirt_wearing judgemental and closed minded fanatic” or the “blue shirted rebellious frustrated blogger”. What the few white shirted fanatics did not manage to achieve, the rest of the bloggers have – they’ve taught me to categorize and judge people according to their dress.

All this to say, I think I need a break. I wish I could delete my blog and all the links I have and never come back. Truthfully, I do. As much as I have gained, as much as I’ve learned from the people I’ve met, as much as I love writing here, I feel like the flip side has been unbelievably damaging. As much as I would love to believe that it’s worth being here to teach myself and others an alternative way of viewing things, the fact is that, most of it is preaching to the choir, and the rest is just an excuse to feed my yetser hara into believing terrible accusations I’ve never personally seen or experienced. It’s an excuse for become judgemental, to accept all the frustration and disappointment, to give myself permission to distance myself from g-d. My own struggles are one thing, and I deal with them one-on-one with G-d, but when I take in the world’s struggles and try to deal with them, all I come up with is anxiety and despair, which leads to helplessness, and eventually distancing from the only One who really could help. I don’t want that.

I’m going away for a few weeks, so it will give me a little break. I wish I could say I wont be back.. but I probably will.. I do hope however that this little break will give me a little perspective and help me find a way to use my time and my brainpower more productively!


At Tuesday, February 13, 2007 1:18:00 AM, Blogger Dovid said...

Very interesting. Gosh, I have so many thoughts, but I can't jot them down because they'll inevitably look like self-defense. So suffice it to say that I disagree with so much, but find it interesting nonetheless. Enjoy your break (I sure as hell am enjoying mine!) and come back inspired!

At Tuesday, February 13, 2007 1:20:00 AM, Blogger Dovid said...

Truth is I won't jot them down because I'm tired, and I'm sick of arguing. We can carry on forever, but what matters to your blogging is how you feel about it, not what I think is an objective truth.

At Tuesday, February 13, 2007 5:06:00 AM, Blogger Pragmatician said...

Your posts are usually thought provoking and well written.
It's a shame we'll have to miss that writing.

I understand your reasons, but if you top and think a second, all you've heard on the blogs is actually a tool
Not to start looking upon everyone as a potential dangerous Jew, rather a tool to discern the people you wan to associate with.
No one is perfect but so many Jews are wonderful people!
Find them usinfg all the infrmation that blogs have made accessible!

At Tuesday, February 13, 2007 7:56:00 AM, Blogger anonym00kie said...

dovid, now that youve had a good night's sleep, care to share what you disagree about? :) i also dont want to argue.. im all argued out.. but im curious to know what there is to disagree about?

pragmatician, i hear what your saying.. but i still feel it has affected me quite strongly..
a small break will do me good :)

At Tuesday, February 13, 2007 8:16:00 AM, Blogger Nemo said...

I agree with you. Blogging alters our perspective about everything. But you can't discount the fact that knowing of issues does give you into insight about understanding peoples' needs and thoughts. It is invaluable for objectivity, but is worthless as an only source. The problem becomes when we start overlooking reality and what is really happening in our lives and communities on a daily basis.

At Tuesday, February 13, 2007 9:32:00 AM, Blogger chaverah said...

This is hysterical! I do the same. I guess the blog world does show the inside of people and you never know who it is thinking as we do. It's so true how I look at people in a different light these days but I feel it is good because it took away that feeling of everyone has is great but me. the grass is actually NOT greener on the other side. The perspective is great! good luck on your break and we are waiting for your arrival back to us!

At Tuesday, February 13, 2007 9:50:00 AM, Blogger Lakewood Venter said...

hmmm.maybe you DO need that break!

At Tuesday, February 13, 2007 9:59:00 AM, Blogger The Dreamer said...

mookie - Wonderful, thought-provoking post. That's precisely why I DON'T read certain blogs. Just because it's out there, it doesn't mean one has to read it.

Your thoughts are almost always encouraging, and I would be sad to see you leave, but your spirituality comes first. Hatzlachah with everything!

Prag - you state your point quite clearly, but reading loshon harah is still against halachah. :)

At Tuesday, February 13, 2007 10:54:00 AM, Blogger Dovid said...

Like Chaverah wrote, it's good to know all the issues and problems. It's good to see beyond the surface. You see it just from your own subjective experience, but realize that the new form of media, which is lead by blogging, is altering everyone's minds and perspectives, and will slowly alter the general perception and greater consciousness. The system will have to adapt. As the bugs come out of the woodwork marriages will have to become stronger. As the doubts start to surface, the teachers will have to double their efforts, as the complaints are heard, the schools will have to comply, etc. Sure, it's a painful process, but enough with the superficial living already. Let the wounds be seen and the cries be heard and let's be honest about this life we're living!

At Tuesday, February 13, 2007 2:12:00 PM, Blogger Limey2001 said...


At Tuesday, February 13, 2007 2:25:00 PM, Blogger Lvnsm27 said...

Please don't quit altogether. You have one of the best blogs. Your messages are very intelligent and beautiful and enjoyable. But I understand that you need a break. We all need one sometimes.

And it's true what you said about individuals making things look really big, when it's really just something that some individuals are going through.
I feel like saying to others, yes bad situations ARE happening that need to be taken care of, but the community as a whole is okay.

At Tuesday, February 13, 2007 4:58:00 PM, Anonymous akavish said...


It isn't always beneficial to air everything. To use homosexuality as an example... yay! three people just left... the media's obsessing over the subject influences many people to question their own orientation. Then - in addition to people who were feeling confused or supressed their whole lives and now feel validated - thousands of kids and young adults are introduced to an alternative excuse for their straight-up screwiness. In that case, would it not have been better to address the issue quietly and deal with the actual "problem" (I'm not taking a stand on homosexuality I'm just trying to keep it as close as possible to our discussion) than to make an official movement to tackle the issue? Would not the average citizen have been better off living as a simple 'ole hetero unaware of the "options open to him"?

The Big Lie theory, as popularized in unquotable WWII era literature, makes the convincing case that the more exposure an issue has; the longer it is repeated; the consistentcy of its repetition all do wonders in creating an actual problem. If a real problem can be created from scratch, imagine the potential exacerbation of an existing issue!

So no, it isn't always better to discuss everything in an open forum. But certainly more fun. :)

PS, There is something to be said for not pointing out problems without providing solutions. As another dumb example - I'm good at it what can I say - telling someone at a wedding that the their suit is frayed without offering to fix it only makes him self-conscious.

Also, going around telling everyone "My suit is frayed!" (this is from the blogger's point of view) does nothing for your suit...

Do I really have to read this whole comment to see if it makes sense? Nah...

Oh, PPS, this entire argument is mmot since the issues have alreeady and continue to be aired all day every day. So I agree with you: marriage/education/community need serious reinforcement to address the issues.

At Tuesday, February 13, 2007 7:10:00 PM, Anonymous malka said...

Akavish, I agree. People should get together and tackle community issues privatly instead of airing it on the internet and not mentioning any solutions.
Like Anonymookie said, it has an impact and hearing all these rantings about different issues makes people cynical.
Of course these issues need to be looked at, but just talking about it doesn't help. These problems need solutions. That's why I think the best way is for people to come together and try to solve the problems.

At Tuesday, February 13, 2007 7:57:00 PM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

I will miss your posts and trust that you know what is good for you. Good luck.

At Wednesday, February 14, 2007 12:40:00 AM, Anonymous akavish said...

I should have been clearer: "People getting together..." is often the problem, not the fix.

It's important for individuals to stop relying on teachers and rabbis and king's horses and men... and realize that the firm values so associated with frum Judaism need to be introduced in the home at a young age by consistent example, and enriched in a school and in community... no amount of discussing or fretting or complaining or deciding can subsitute for a little show of practical love and respect - not blind drooling awe - for authority. Then carry that to people, relationships and general yiddishkeit. Good things can happen. I believe!

And M00k, always remember: Raspberry Snapple ROOOOOOOOCKS!!

At Wednesday, February 14, 2007 12:52:00 AM, Anonymous malka said...

Akavish What I meant is that people should talk to each other and try to solve the issues instead of just complaining online.

At Wednesday, February 14, 2007 1:42:00 AM, Blogger Dovid said...

viva la revolution!

At Wednesday, February 14, 2007 9:48:00 AM, Blogger anonym00kie said...

nemo – I never said I don’t want to know about issues or that i want to hide them, I jus think there must be a better way of dealing with them then just whining about them and making a big fuss over poeles weaknesses.

chaverah –
I hear that it’s helpful to know that others are going thru the same struggles .. but also sometimes it gives us an excuse not to pick ourselves up – “everyone else is doing it, no else can handle it, so why bother?”
sometimes it good to be inspired by people who are more successful.

Lakewood Venter –
yup.. that’s what I said :)

The Dreamer said...
I also try to be really careful with which blogs I read, but when I find new ones it sometimes takes me a few posts to realize its stuff I shouldn’t read and by then the info is in my head.
Anyway I do plan on being back and continuing my blog, I just need to find a way to keep those that bring me down out of reach!

Dovid –
I agree that tons of work needs to be done, and I agree that things need to be discussed. I never ever advocated silencing and censoring what needs to be said..
but.. you cant deny that there is a serious negative side effect to having EVERYONe whine and no one fix anything. Im not talking about painful, im talking about harmful.
I think akavish really said it well –

btw dovid, I think this is why I love your blog so much, its not just about talking and whining, it was about actually trying to solve problems, it made people think constructively..if there were more blogs out there like yours, I wouldn’t be complaining!

Limey2001 –
no petition??

Lvnsm27 –
Don’t worry, ill be back.. like I said, I just need a break to clear my head and it works out perfect cuz im going away :)
like I said its not so much an issue of writing a blog that bothers me, as much as all the nonsense I read on other blogs..

akavish –
you’re seriously the bestest commenter ever!
You said it perfectly. That’s exactly what I mean, not that people shouldn’t deal with their issues, or that the community shouldn’t deal with community issues, but we also have an obligation, a responsibility not to pollute everyone elses minds. everyone has their share of doubts and issues to work with, no need to take on everyone elses!

malka –
I love it when people agree with me :)
and I think you and akavish are saying the same thing.. we need to work on the problems, but “just getting it off your chest” doesn’t solve anything.

socialworker/frustrated mom –
ill be back.. don’t worry :) I cant get away from this place!

At Wednesday, February 14, 2007 9:19:00 PM, Blogger chana said...

you're so 100% right, it's incredible.
i was having some serious issues with the whole blogging world... an thought it's time for me to ease out. it's interesting to hear my feelings on the issue laid out so perfectly. i was here just a short time and i'm feeling it already so much.
if you're enough of an open, honest, compassionate person, real life introduces you to all kinds of people and all kinds of issues.
nothing in the blogging world is new to me - just the amount i was hearing it all. for some reason negativity seems a lot more popular here. it's easy for 40 blogs to convince you that the whole jewish community is screwed, when in fact it's only about the personal lives of 40 people. out of tens of thousands. yea, there are others -even many others- who share those experiences, but the perspective gets warped when you read these things on a daily basis.
i do understand the advantages, though... just everything in moderation.

At Thursday, February 15, 2007 2:06:00 AM, Blogger knaidel maidel said...

Good for you, m00k-- enjoy your vacation.

At Thursday, February 15, 2007 9:53:00 AM, Blogger the sabra said...


mook, much respect.

yet again.

At Saturday, February 17, 2007 1:53:00 PM, Blogger flör said...

i'm away for two months and return to find now [i]you're[/i] gone?? (however temporary..or not).

Aaaaneeway, interestingly enough, my internet connection's been down these [entire] past 2 months. As most anyone-connected-to-tech would, I felt disconneceted, floating, not sure what to take up my time with..I basically counted on the web/my yahoogroup as all the job leads I was pursuing and email is crucial (as sorry as I am to say that..bec. what am I to do when I get to Wellington an find there's no connection in the forest?)

I bonded again with my long lost friends (don't you love the smell of a good book?), got more fresh air (it might've ruined my carefully-cultivated goth complexion, but hey-- enjoying the wonderful weather Hashem sent is amazing after freezing days cooped up inside with nothing but the dustballs to keep you company).

Like a phantom limb, I slowly learned to deal with this loss [as I viewed it]. Was the ache there? No doubt; as was that feeling of kinship-ish..that one that [i]needs[/i] to be connecetd to others halfway across the globe, the need to feel accepted as others identify with a blog post/rant/etc. and convince you you're not some weird alien from a different interplanetary solar system, that need for yoru paradigms to shift so dramatically when you see someone else's view the world that yours is forever changed.

The few precious moments I did manage to grab at wifi spots in town..were used to their fullest. I stopped dawdling, started on [i]tachlis[/i]-only stuff. After a while I appreciated what I'd had at my fingertips that was no more..
The other day as I watched the long-slumbering light of the modem blink back on..I literally said [i]'Hodu l'shem ki tov..'[/i]; at once disgusted with myself for mixing the seeming [i]gashmi[/i] & [i]ruchni[/i] (esp. in a holy city such as I am); and at the same time sorta pleasantly surprised that my mind automatically blurted something 'kadosh' and recognized the dual-blessing of simultaneously appreciating the fact that these past 60 days were meant as a time for heightened awareness to the other parts of life I'd been neglecting, and that the connection had nothing to do with my technological-prowess; it was Gd and Gd alone that'd deemed it right for my adsl line to roar back to life.

Now, why'my blarbling (blog+babbling) on to you? Well, I could sworn I'd hit the a-m-a-z-o-n-d-o-t-c-o-m buttons to order s/t, and I look up to find your site waving cheerfully from my dusty screen (ok, ok, I have you as one of the 'favorites' on my bookmark bar that sits right underneath the url-box-thingy..still my hand wasn't near my mouse to move it). So, like everything else that happens down on this was ultimately decreed in heaven that I'd land here.
..and I'm not the least bit sorry (but you [i]will[/i] still be checking your email..right? << said with anxious look..)

Looking back I wonder what my point was..I try to only post something worthwhile..maybe to let you know you're not alone in your blog-t[a]inted view on the world? How not to worry as there's many more like you out there seeing things for what they're [i]not[/i], and as equally disturbed as you are that we've come to triple-judge our fellow humans when we're here to accept everyone with peaceful, open minds & hearts..
So.. you think we should start a self-help blog for those adversely-affected by cynical blogs..?


At Sunday, February 18, 2007 1:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's amazing how well u define things, and put them into words, so well written and so well explained.

But what's even more amazing is how you took the words out of my mouth err. keyboard, I was about to write a post along the same lines, and here i find yours, it's all made out for me.

Actually my point was gonne be more along the lines, that I don't fit in here

The Yiddish blog scene is dominated by heretics and rebels who took upon them a mission to spread 'kefireh' and poisonous apikorses through their blogs, and so many innocent heimishe yidden and yiddenes are being poisoned by reading them.

I will elaborate in an upcoming post on my blog. look out for it.

actually in the current latest post I did try to find something positive in online relationships, check it out and tell me what u think please.

In the meen time i wish you hatzlocha, you will be missed, one after one we are losing some good bloggers, those who were worth to be read, and stayed true to our holy Torah and mesorah

At Sunday, February 18, 2007 1:47:00 AM, Blogger Maven said...

what an excellent post. i don't view people through "blogger glasses." the blogs i've looked at that are evil i just don't click on.

you said it well, and nuch a chosid did so too.

At Sunday, February 18, 2007 3:13:00 AM, Blogger flör said...

oh and m00ks-- stay warm out there..being used to the warm confines of the blogosphere isn't something any of us should get used to..

Chodesh v'shavua tov!!

At Sunday, February 25, 2007 8:29:00 PM, Blogger FunkyJew82 said...

i totally hear ya. i try to stay away from the blogosphere too sometimes. hope you benefit from your break. looking forward to your return.

At Monday, February 26, 2007 5:43:00 PM, Blogger FrumGirl said...

Mookie, how are you? I haven't posted on a blog in forever let alone read them, but I took myself out of my self-imposed exile (as Lakewood Venter called it), to say that this is somewhat of what I was talking about when I stopped blogging....

What may be ultimate for you is to stop reading negative blogs while continuing to write your own blog. You are a light in the darkness, shutting down would be a shame. If other peoples negativity is getting you down simply choose to ignore them! This idea doesnt apply to me, sadly.

Good luck in all your future endeavors!

At Tuesday, February 27, 2007 4:06:00 AM, Anonymous someone said...

Great message, I think that the reason why some people just rant without saying a solution is because they feel that they can't do anything about it. And so they complain just to get it off their chest. But I think that if they come up with an idea for a solution and others discuss their solution ideas, then something can be done.

At Thursday, March 01, 2007 1:33:00 PM, Anonymous FrumSatire said...

Man I felt like you were talking directly to me. Should I really stop stereotyping and judging? Well I would but it happens to be my blogs about the frum outdoorsman dont receive much attention because people dont like reading positive. But they love to judge. would have to say I am the blue shirted frustrated blogger- yet I just purchased a white shirt for the first time in years this past week- its so nice having a shirt and not having to pick a tie.

At Wednesday, March 07, 2007 11:05:00 AM, Blogger The Dreamer said...

mookie - tell us when you come back.
we miss you!

At Wednesday, March 07, 2007 11:19:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont know if you're still seeing these posts, but I felt as though you were literally expressing my feelings online. I too started viewing things in a real 'close minded' (!) way, all filtred through the things I read on the blogs and it really affected me the same way. We try to be open-minded but end up being more close minded than before. And if we're going to be close minded then I'd rather be 'close minded' the way I was before blogosphere came around to make me see everyone and everything as dirty and sick. I am so happy for you and proud and I hope you have the strength to stay away from this and get involved in the holy, beautiful things we have in this world - even some beautiful blogs! Like Livefromthehilltop and dailyderher. These are two blogs that have holy, clean content that I enjoy very much; posts that I relate to too, feel good about and dont walk away with a dirty feeling and outlook on the world.
PS I have no connection to those blogs! Only want to share what I've found with other's. And, suggestion...why dont you use the time that you're away from blogosphere to go to some kind of 'women's Yeshiva'. Honestly, I haven't been on your blog in a while and I dont remember if you're in NY, Israel or wherever, but if you could go away for this while and re-strenghthen yourself in your Yiddishkeit and get a clean, good perspective on life in general and our life, in particular, I think it would be really good for you. Just my humble opinion.

At Monday, March 12, 2007 3:27:00 AM, Blogger Sara with NO H said...

I haven't read the other comments, but I can really relate to this post. I know when I was living in NY I would walk down the block and see women sitting on their porches and feel sorry for them. I would see men walking down the block and shake my head. But you have to know that the handful of men and women that go "bad" in any community aren't what it may seem online. I don't know if I can talk since in a way I'm one of them...but I do think that taking a break and seeing people for what they really are and not what they could be compared to online images, might be a really good thing. It's been said time and time again that the internet is corrupt in more ways than one. But not everyone is bad. not everyone is wrong, and not everyone is telling the truth either...Keep that last one especially in mind. You're a special person and I truly enjoy your writing, so I do hope that you find your way back to this freedom of expression.


At Thursday, March 15, 2007 3:46:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey m00kie

u just decided to quit because gonzo/dovid did.

wat happened, your online adventures are no longer exciting?

At Thursday, March 15, 2007 3:28:00 PM, Anonymous s said...

mookie, great post


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