Monday, August 2, 2010

We Tube World

If you haven’t dropped off Facebook, Twitter or the Internet yet due to privacy concerns, you’ve probably noticed a profound change in the way they’ve morphed.
What’s taken place is a convergence from what I call YouTube to WeTube.

On Facebook for instance, huge groups have formed that, because they have so many “friends,” they’ve had to alter the fan nomenclature from “friend” to “fan.”

Only days after the Gaza-bound flotilla incident, a Facebook group formed — “The Truth About Israel’s Defensive Actions Against The Flotilla.” In no time, the group limit overflowed with individuals and other groups joining the cause. Rallies and marches were set up worldwide in support of Israel. The “we” came together.

Within days, the Baltimore Zionist District had rallied in the Inner Harbor. Photos were taken. Media covered it. Shots were posted on Facebook and shared with larger groups. Clips from YouTube were linked from rallies all over the world.

No longer was it about just you or me. It became a force for uniting — a force of we.

For many Jewish groups today the idea of tikkun olam plays a significant role. Literally meaning “world repair,” it connotes social action. But according to myjewishlearning.com, it derives from Lurianic Kabbalah, a branch of mysticism born out of the work of kabbalist Isaac Luria and his Lurianic account of creation.

As the story goes, Divine Light became contained in vessels, some of which were shattered, scattered and some of the light attached to broken shards possessing evil. The repair that’s needed is gathering the light.

Today, the light speed at which information is carried can be a powerful weapon in the fight against tyranny. Social media and social action converge to be a force for good. In a matter of moments a wrong can be exposed and a forthright campaign mounted to right it.

But while the speed of light can be a fierce weapon in any fight, what are the obstacles? While technology races forward, it conflicts with slow deliberative, governing. As the world speeds up, the political process doesn’t.

That blockage directly clashes with the profound feeling that when we see something wrong, we want it fixed — immediately.

When Iranian protesters took to the streets last year, it was broadcast for the entire world on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Yet our government, and President Obama in particular, seemed passive and indecisive when a moral stand was necessary and the right thing to do.

When thousands of rockets poured down on Southern Israel from Gaza, local groups came together on Facebook in support of our sister city of Ashkelon. But the governing bodies of the United States and the United Nations were restrained in voicing their condemnation. It wasn’t until after withstanding bombardment for years, when Operation Cast Lead was initiated, that they reprimanded Israel.

President Obama certainly embodies and personifies the deliberative mind. And it’s important for government to weigh issues, especially given the deadly stakes in today’s heavily armed world. But as the BP oil spill demonstrates, government can’t operate in constant crisis communications mode or appear at a standstill. It has to get out in front of issues before they turn into disasters broadcast for the entire world to see.

The haste with which we call for action grinds in the gears of a slow-motion government personified by its leaders. Media and technology race ahead at light speed and magnify the sharp disparity with government, making it ever more glaring.