On November 7 I led a group discussion at my synagogue with a group of teenagers talking under the purposefully provocative title “Is Facebook God?“ We took Maimonides‘ 13 attributes of God and attempted to compare it to Facebook or at least discover connections to it. Most of the nine teens and their group leader seemed to enjoy the conversation which lasted about 45 minutes. At the end they were all keen to take home a copy of the handout (PDF, 105 kb) that listed the attributes and provided one Facebook related idea and a suggestion for each. Here is the content of the handout:
There is a Creator who is perfect and put into motion all that exists.
Facebook (FB) and the internet is not perfect but it can put into motion good tendencies. FB is a tool that amplifies what you put into it.
Suggestion: Be proactive in the issues you support.
God is One.
FB is a huge website and you may feel, because of its market dominance, that it is all encompassing and the only one. But other sites exist, that are dominant elsewhere on the planet: Orkut/Brazil, Wiw/Hungary, Bebo/Ireland…
Suggestion: Explore other sites to find exactly what meet your needs.
God has no body, cannot be affected by any physical force.
FB and the internet is non-corporeal and is certainly designed not to be affected by physical force (to withstand a nuclear attack.). But it can be hurt, it is just a complex network of machines and code. See how desperate you feel when Twitter is down. Imagine if FB would be down.
Suggestion: Keep a healthy independence.
God is Eternal.
There were plenty of popular sites before FB. E.g. MySpace was the market leader up to a few years ago. If Google makes a social networking site, it can take FB over. Don’t think that FB is eternal, that it will be there for you forever.
Suggestion: Make periodic backups of your FB profile
(Account->Settings->Download your information)
A Jew must worship God exclusively and no foreign or false gods.
With half a billion users you can encounter all kind of person on FB. It is a great place to connect to other cultures and recognize the value in all. It is also a great place to connect to fellow Jews in your own town, county, state, country and Israel
Suggestion: Support your local Jewish organizations on FB.
God communicates with humanity through prophecy.
Your favorite musician, politician, rabbi, artist, company, team, celebrity … communicates through status updates. You “like” them and follow their activities and words online. However following too many entities may fragment your attention and may bury you into an avalanche of unimportant information.
Suggestion: Fight the tyranny of recency over relevancy.
The prophecy of Moses is the greatest there is and ever will be.
There are people who seem credible online who really are not. There are forms of false prophecy on and offline, often looking like spam. Maimonides’ 12 modes of prophecies, organized by degree of clarity is helpful to identify them.
Suggestion: Read more about the levels of prophecies: tinyurl.com/prophecy-levels
The Torah comes from God.
But what you read on FB does not. People say and write lots of things, motivated by a wide variety of reasons. They may lie about who they are and what they say. Check your sources of information before your trust them.
Suggestion: Think critically about what you read on FB.
The Torah cannot be changed.
FB is changing all the time. Not just the constantly growing content, but the framework, i.e. the features. It is important to follow the terms of service changes to adjust it to your own preferred privacy level.
Suggestion: Use profilewatch.org
God knows and sees all.
FB was partially funded by Accel Partners, a company that has several people from venture capital firm established by the CIA. Law enforcement is using FB in its detective work to enforce the law.
Suggestion: Watch this video tinyurl.com/28mjmdv
God rewards and punishes people.
Your social network can reward and punish your actions. Coming through a single interface, it may feel as if it would be a single, depersonalized community. Don’t be mistaken by it. It consists of individuals.
Suggestion: Being mean on FB will haunt you.
The Messiah and the messianic era will arrive, some day.
Global Brain: Society as a living system, a universal knowledge network, a higher level of evolution.
Messianic Age: “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9)
Suggestion: Think about how you see the Messianic Age and whether the developing Global Brain is bringing it?
God will resurrect the dead.
FB serves as memorial of deceased people. Friend and families leave messages for the dead to keep memories alive. “Memorialized” profiles are frozen with no login, not showing up in searches, only accessible to friends.
Suggestion: Memorialize your deceased friend’s account.