From the desk of Manhattan Shliach Rabbi Uriel Vigler:
On Monday morning we celebrated a beautiful Bar Mitzvah at our shul. I took a selfie with the bar mitzvah boy and his family and posted it on my Instagram and Facebook stories. I thought it would inspire others to pray and put on tefillin.
But when I checked to see how many people had viewed the story, the number was unusually low—barely 100, when it should be closer to 1,000. “How strange,” I thought. “Let me refresh the page.” But no matter how many times I refreshed, the number didn’t move. And it was a great picture!
Then I Whatsapped a community member to check on the status of her mezuzot and I noticed the message wasn’t going through. Then it dawned on me that my phone had been atypically silent for the last few minutes. Where were all the hundreds of messages that usually come in non-stop? I assumed the issue was my wifi, so I went outside and kept hitting refresh.
When that didn’t help, it hit me that something must be wrong, which a quick Google instantly confirmed.
As everyone now knows, Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram were down for a full business day, wreaking havoc on billions across the globe.
And I, like so many others, panicked. You see, I’m in the inspiration business, and social media is my primary tool. My job is to reach out and inspire people. To come to shul, to give charity, to get closer to G-d, to study Torah. And I communicate through Instagram, Facebook, and especially Whatsapp.
Whatsapp is my lifeline. Without it, I feel imprisoned. Constricted. Inhibited. I use it to communicate with my family in South Africa and Israel, to plan with my team, to collaborate with Chabad rabbis across the globe, and to reach out to individuals.
It felt like a snow day. Like Shabbat. Like the holidays all over again.
It was also a wakeup call.
Social media is here today but gone tomorrow, I realized. All those friends, followers, likes, and comments can disappear in the blink of an eye. And what did they really mean?
Does it really matter how many followers you have on Instagram? How many friends on Facebook? How many Whatsapp groups you’re in? For six hours, I, and billions of others, had time to contemplate that.
What we can ensure, I concluded, is that we have the one follower Who actually counts: G-d. It is He Who we need to impress. His comments we should be seeking. And no matter how many apps and sites go down, He remains equally available at all times. He won’t let us down.
So deeply have we come to rely on people being instantly available, that we may have neglected to communicate with the One Who is truly always there, at all times, in all conditions.
Let’s pause for a moment, think about that, and commit to talking to Him more. Unlike the internet, we can be assured He won’t let us down.