Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Facebook Golem Or The Man On The Street

 I have nothing against other people’s opinions, sometimes  I even change my mind based on what I hear. But I would like to choose where, and when to hear or read them.

In the past I could think of two main examples when those opinions were not welcome. First, on the evening news when reporters chose to spend a good part of the program on interviewing  “the man/woman on the street.”  I guess the rationale was that their opinions were representative of  most people. I always preferred to hear the opinions of experts in the field.

The second  occasion happened when during  the questions and answers session after a formal lecture, some people in the audience mistook that time to be an opportunity to voice their opinions rather than to ask for those of the speaker.

Now because of the war in Gaza I can add  Facebook to the  list of unwelcome opinions

Until recently I was an active user of Facebook and enjoyed reading about my friends’ life. Facebook for me was exactly what Mark Zuckerberg meant it to be: a social network. I didn’t know the political opinions of most of my friends and never requested new  friendships based on people’s political inclinations. Yet,  I didn’t mind reading  my friends’ opinions  about those subjects as well.

However, with the war, many people started sharing and promoting those  political views to which they subscribe. For me  it means that the social media stopped being social. I should have known that, what is Facebook if not the man on the street in his contemporary attire?  While I like my friends and used to look forward to hearing about the different aspects of their lives, now I dread Facebook and it has lost its appeal.

I hear that this war is the war of the social media. My friends are civilized people, their posts may be  disturbing, yet they are never offensive. But  our activity on Facebook does not represent what is out there  in other parts of the social media. I guess we are not the "real man of the street" of Facebook, where I was exposed to horrible posts  full of violence and hatred. It is scary.

Several months ago I wrote about the benefits of  Facebook.as a  big bazaar where treasures could be found: 


But now I realize that the big unpredictable bazaar has become a Golem, that unintelligent creature who was commanded to perform a task, but became enormous, uncooperative and ultimately out of control. There is evidence everywhere, and not only in Israel, of the damages created by the Facebook Golem.
I wonder if it is too late to stop it. In one version of the Golem story the rabbi who created him had to resort to trickery to deactivate it, whereupon the Golem crumbled upon its creator and crushed him.

I sincerely hope that we are not looking at a similar future.  



  1. Orna -- I always enjoy seeing you on Facebook. Golem is a good description. Feelings are running high with the war and everyone has an opinion or a comment. I see no reason to subject yourself to blatantly offensive Facebook posts or personal attacks. It often seems that the monster is out of control

    Your post topic is one reason why I am reluctant to "friend" people or accept new Facebook friend requests. I was happy with about 50 but with Red Room's demise I'm up to about 70 friends. I also don't "tweet" or do other social networks for this reason. If FB friends get too offensive over some issue I will 'hide' them for a while...like a time out. (I notice that when I post a comment the site asks me to prove that I am not a robot...of all the nerve!)

    1. Thank you for writing dear Ken. Like you I block people who get too carried away. But I too feel that,in many way, Facebook has turned into a monster. Thank you for reading and for your support. I feel that our friendship transcends Facebook:-)

  2. I hope you'll stick around on Facebook, Orna. I tend to view it the same way I view TV: if I don't like what's on it, I turn it off. But, I do enjoy seeing your updates there.... :-)

    1. Thank you dear Barbara, you always find the kindest words.

  3. Orna, I agree whole heartedly. I shy away from all those political posts. I'm with Ken- I block them or hide them, or put them in their own little FB group and I don't have to see them unless I want to!

    1. Thank you dear Annette for reading and for your comment. I am worried about the speed that some people become aggressive and verbose.