Friday, February 27, 2009

790. Fear of Twitter Torah

Last night I had a very strange dream. I was on the subway, the "U" train (there is no such line) with two close friends, en route from the far reaches of Brooklyn (i.e., terra incognita ). We were engaged in a heated discussion about Twitter--is it helpful, or an insidious waste of time? I was conflicted. In my dream, as in real life, I have a Twitter account I have yet to use--but about 30 people "follow" me. Why? I've never posted a word. Every once in awhile I look at the list and remember that Twitter could be a great business networking tool, and also keep me in touch with old friends. And to have any credibility as a Web-savvy designer, I should really get with the program. But I'm also afraid it will take over my life, and I'll turn into a Twitter addict and have no time to do any work, new or old.

So in the dream we needed to switch trains, my friends and I. We walked out onto the platform, but I was in the middle of a reverie about Twitter and Torah. Maybe we could create an online dialogue about the weekly parasha. This seemed a little sacrilegious, though. Was Torah appropriate to discuss in this medium? Would a limit of 140 characters hamper the depth of commentary? Shouldn't Torah be studied in person? These questions upset so much so that I didn't realize I had lost my friends and gotten on the wrong train, and was headed as far from Manhattan as humanly possible.

The train stopped. I jumped out, and began to run. It was a beautiful, sunny day, the streets filled with people shopping for Shabbat (i.e., Williamsburg, Crown Heights). Everyone was smiling and happy except me, until I saw signs in the distance for a train that would take me right home. I raced into the station and asked for directions. "Get in touch with your friends immediately!" said the token booth clerk. "They're very worried--they asked us to look for you!"

Sheepishly, I took out my phone and started to leave messages. But wait!--here was one of my rabbis, in hiking gear and looking as if he had just come back from an Arctic expedition. If anyone could parse the Twitter/Torah conundrum, it was he. I couldn't wait to ask.

But I woke up before learning the answer, and with more questions. Clearly I need to get over my fear of Twitter, but Torah shouldn't worry me. Any study of those words is a good thing, no matter where or when, and that knowledge helps us find our way in the wilderness, not lose it. So what am I afraid of?


rbarenblat said...

Funny; I just this week joined twitter. *g* (velveteenrabbi, naturally enough.) I'm still figuring out how I want to use it; but I like it, so far. I think I might post periodic haiku there.

I love the idea of twittering tiny parsha thoughts! If you did that, I would surely join you.

alto artist said...

I guess my subconscious has some good ideas hidden away! :) I would love to do this, soon as I get my act together about Twitter.

Adam Simon said...

See my blog post referencing this one: Frumhacks: Following the Lead of Hillel the Elder: Twittorah