Seeking Self-Respect On Social Media

For the second week in a row I don't drive on Shabbos (Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath). Instead we walk and talk, and reflect.

There is an incredible, pervasive sense of peace in my mind. Unlike any other, and I don't feel this during the week.

Out of nowhere my mouth utters, "I just want it to stay like today, all week. But I know that it cannot."

We pass mothers wheeling baby carriages, dads walking little girls in pretty dresses toward the synagogue. Remark that we never stop to look at things, we're so busy driving around all week, and working.

I crane my head up and look right. There is a house with a gigantic satellite dish, and two others clipped to an awning.

The relief of small talk and relaxing conversation.

"What is that?" I say, and we wonder whether this homeowner has some special deal with the NSA.

Then bubbling up as if out of nowhere, the thing that's on my mind, but which I fear to say out loud.

"Shabbos is so peaceful, but I'm not sure I like all this time to think."

A pause, because we both know what's coming next.

"What are you thinking about?"

"I feel like I've lost my way."

We continue talking, and walking. It's about the family, and the times we could have spent together, but how work always takes me away.

"I am sorry."

It's the pressure, I say. There are challenges.

"But you have to stand up or you lose yourself. You're the one who always said that to me."

"It isn't always possible," I say.

And then I tell a painful story from my professional life. The one where, immediately after starting a new job, I said something that my boss did not like and the boss threw a handful of papers at me in front of other people at a meeting.

The blood rushed to my face as I remembered that moment and how I had to bite my tongue to stay employed.

"I wanted to scream, how dare you - but knew I'd lose my job before it even got off the ground."

An insight.

"Very often you can't say anything in real life, but you can post a version of your thoughts online, and you can recover self-respect through the community."

The shame of being mistreated. The attempt to recover our self-respect.

We can't let the haters drag us down or define us.

But it can become a vicious cycle, as well. We can use social media to gain self-respect, to "brand ourselves," and fail to address the real-life issues that we need to.

The final, insightful comment, back to me.

"You have to do the right thing in real life. It's the only thing that matters."

Social media isn't a bad thing. It is in fact a phenomenal way to express yourself, to connect with others and find camaraderie as you struggle with difficult issues and through difficult times.

But it's a dangerous path, and you can end up editing your persona online, too, also to get the benefits you think will accrue through a better "image."

This Sabbath gave me a break from all of that. And I liked being regular, and plain, and honest.

No matter what your religion, taking a break is a really good way to decide if you like the path you're on.

For me, I saw the Jewish saying was true.

"If you take care of the Sabbath, it will take care of you."

* All opinions my own.