Why does “social” media seem so…lonely?

Elizabeth Hersh is Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel (TE), and a blogger on the Jewish Light’s website (stljewishlight.com).   Joel Iskiwitch and John DeMott, authors of the  “What can you do?”  sidebar, are congregants at TE.

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

I am still struggling to understand Facebook. To me it feels very lonely even though it is a way to connect with others socially. I am personally uncomfortable with learning private information through this social media. 

Why was even on Facebook? Our son was at sleep away camp where they posted daily photos. One could access these only if you were a “Friend” of the camp. While looking for his smiling face, I was lured into the trap of reading what was posted from other “Friends.” 

It seems like a way of communicating without really communicating. I saw posts of what people were eating for dinner, political comments, photos of social injustices as well as many pictures of children. I read about the death of a loved one or sexual orientation of a family member. 

Consider me old-fashioned but how do I respond to the death of a parent? If we were really friends, then wouldn’t I receive a telephone call from someone? And how do I respond? Do I post my condolences or send a card in the mail? Is this a way of sharing information but not wanting a human face to face encounter?

What do I do with the post of a cat peacefully napping in the sun or of a link to send money to an important cause? Why does someone post that she is having a bad day? Is it so others will comment or is the real answer in picking up the telephone to say hello?