What Sins Should We Atone For In Our Use of Social Media?



O Master of the Universe! On this Yom Kippur, please forgive me...For the sin of neglecting the chulent pot and allowing it to boil over and become encrusted due to my obsessive checking and rechecking of Face-book. For the sin of not having heard my partner whisper "I love you" because I was listening to some rant on YouTube. For the sin of believing every libelous tirade posted on Instagram as if it had come down from Sinai. For the sin of spending hours hypnotically glommed onto Facebook Messenger while texting the person seated beside me. For the sin of not turning off my smart-phone before going to sleep. For the sin of longing more desperately for an incoming text than for the touch of a lover. For the sin of not checking the content of my text prior to sending it, resulting in verbiage never intended. For the sin of awakening envy and disdain in others by sending photos and tweets about how absolutely wonderful my life is. For the sin of allowing social media to transform me into a mesmerized worshiper of screens illuminated by light-emitting diodes while I waste away in the back seat of my self-driving car.

Rabbi Gershon Winkler

Walking Stick Foundation Rancho Cucamonga, CA


Social media provides a crucial platform for many people. It helps the marginalized find and embrace each other. It enables the powerless to combine into powerful coalitions. And, of course, there are those pictures of the grandchildren. Yet like many new technologies, social media has created new opportunities for us to wrong one another. From the spread of falsehoods to anonymous bullying to the ease with which we make casual racist, homophobic, misogynistic and ableist statements, social media encourages some terrible behaviors.

Humanistic Jews are not shy about updating and adapting Jewish literature. But the traditional holiday confessional already seems to have anticipated social media. The wrongs we commit by means of the internet are not so very different from those that our tradition describes us committing "openly and in secret...with our speech...with foolish talk...by means of our evil inclination." Social media extends the reach of all this lashon hara and other bad behavior. Yet its potential for good remains. Keeping this in mind, during this year's confession let us resolve to use the internet to fight falsehoods, bullying and so many more ills of our society.

Rabbi Jeffrey Falick

Birmingham Temple Congregation for Humanistic Judaism Farmington Hills, MI


For the sin of being snarky--and reveling in it. It's funny, it's satisfying, and it's probably not so good for our souls. Social media reminds me of the passage in Deuteronomy where Moses sets before the people both blessings and curses--except that with social...

To continue reading