If there ever was a time/place for Jewish leaders to implement Mussar practices it is here… on the web. At a minimum, I’d suggest:
1) Time outs for comments that cross certain lines
2) No anonymity.
3) All users need to register with name, photo, etc.
Mussar teachers have provided us with ideas and tools that would bode well for (spiritually) healthy virtual communities to take root.
My suspicion is that most sites – from Aish to Gil’s – will shy away from such measure in fear of losing numbers.
FKM WRITES: "I noticed that R’ Gil left television and cinema out of list of examples of "neutral technology" and "neutral media".
Perhaps he realizes as others have pointed out above that some technologies are inherently less neutral and much easier to abuse than others."
RABBI GIL REPLIES: "TV, movies and video are an excellent example of media that can be used for good or bad. Just ask Rabbi Wein or the people at VeggieTales."
Before blogs, the same people who are writing negative opinions about Judaism and Torah were still voicing their opinions, only they were limited to whoever their social circle was. With the advent of the internet, their social circle then rapidly expanded, allowing them to connect to all the others who were discontented with Torah Judaism.
So why is that important?
Because until the internet, most Jewish leaders (eg. the PR guy at the Agudah) could be dismissive of this discontent. These people could individually be written off as isolated cranks with no influence and therefore no need to pay attention to them. The myths that 99.% of Orthodox Jews were happy, that there was no spousal abuse, child abuse or drug abuse in the frum community, could be perpetuated with near impunity.
Now, because of the internet, these things can’t.
Look at Agriprocessors. In the pre-internet era, there is no way any one or two people could have started the campaign to bring the company to account for its sins. Their concerns would have been dismissed as those of the aforementioned isolated cranks.
Look at the attention various forms of abuse are getting, finally. Previously isolated and scared people are finding help and comfort.
TOBY KATZ WRITES:
Pictures?! There should definitely not be pictures of women on nice blogs!
For two reasons:
1. it’s a breach of tznius to look at pictures of women — that’s why in wedding pictures in Hamodea and Yated, you will find the chassan with his father in law, the chassan with his rosh yeshiva, the chassan with the caterer — but never never never the chassan with his kallah!
2. [more serious] One of the charms of the internet — and of books and magazines, too, for that matter — is the way you can communicate mind to mind, unmediated by the distractions of outward appearance. A too-beautiful woman or (for different reasons) an ugly old crone may not be taken seriously in conversation but on the ‘net it’s your thoughts and your words that count, nothing else.