Harry Enten '11 writes for The Guardian. This reflection can be accessed at:
It's Yom Kippur – the most religious holiday on the Jewish calendar. I'm here at the office acting like today is just like every other day; I'm supposed to be atoning for my sins in synagogue.
I haven't been to temple, as some call it, in many years. I found it excruciatingly boring and mentally unstimulating. I went to Hebrew school for two days before refusing. The only reason people might confuse me with a religious Jew is because I had my bar mitzvah in Israel. I only did so because it meant I had to memorize less. I can to this very day recite my Torah portion with the correct inflections flawlessly, but that is more because of a good memory than any connection I had to the experience.
Still, I feel some unexplainable connection to my past. Hard as I try, I feel that I have to recognize what my ancestors went through so that I can be here today. I feel the need to commemorate Yom Kippur in some fashion.
Yom Kippur is all about self-reflection: about understanding what I've done in the past year and what I can do to make myself better in the next year. Perhaps, it's not complaining as much during the Guardian's morning meeting. Perhaps, it's compromising a little bit more when it comes to familial relations.
So, I've decided that in order to self-reflect, I can't share my thoughts on Twitter for the day. Twitter is almost all about self-indulgence for me. Yes, I read what other people write, but it's really more about hearing myself talk that keeps me on the site. I get a thrill up my leg whenever I see someone prominent respond to say something I say or retweet it.
I know I'm not alone. People like sharing on Facebook because they somehow feel that if they share something on the internet, it's truer and more important, in some sense.
During my darkest hours, when I didn't have a job, it was these social tools of communication with others that kept me going. They were a way for me to say to myself, "I'm still important. People still care what I have to say."
When the Torah was written, and for many years after, we communicated with others by going to work or meeting up in the local town. Once at work or at, say, a local eatery, we saw our friends and shared a word and/or a bite to eat.
It's not that we don't go to work or eat out with friends, but these exercises just don't pack the same punch that they used to. The reason is that we talk with our friends online, and many of us would probably eat online if we could. I know that I usually eat with my laptop beside me.
But I wonder sometimes if I don't lose something by almost never logging off Twitter. With constant tweeting, I lose the ability to look within myself. I often find myself cursing at the screen when I see someone write the same article I was thinking or writing. It's worse when I feel that I published a piece just like theirs, but theirs got more retweets for some reason.
Instead, I might be a better person, and maybe better writer, if I stopped caring about others' work so much and concentrated on my own.
So, for one day, I'm going to be by myself. It's certainly not perfect in the religious sense: I'm still using a computer to write these words. But not writing on Twitter is my own way of keeping my faith alive.
Others are going the whole nine yards (synagogue, no electronics, no eating, no bathing, etc). I'm happy that they have found a way to connect with God in their own way. But with self-reflection, I'm also secure with my own means of acknowledging that today is Yom Kippur.