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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 4, 2010 26 Tishrei, 5771

Dorky Digital and ‘the New Cool’

By Suzanne Fields




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Every generation seeks a hero or an anti-hero, a trend or counter-trend, a fashion or non-fashion to define itself in both politics and the culture, pop and otherwise. Recall Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock in the movie "The Graduate," lolling about in his parents' swimming pool, fins and all, with no place to go. Quintessential '60s.

Fast forward to 2010. Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, trying to connect with his girlfriend in the new movie "The Social Network," as she tells him with fatigue and exasperation, "dating you is like dating StairMaster." Swoosh. The devil as a dork.

Inside our speeded-up Internet, cyberspace, tweeting networks, technological change accelerates perceptions about who we are, where we're going and how we're getting there. Mark Zuckerberg may not like his portrayal in the movie because it's "lightly fictional," but his persona captures the Zeitgeist of the Geek with all of the Asbergy remoteness that allows one unlikeable genius to touch the nerve of a generation.

This guy with only one "friend" created a network of a half-billion friends, which, if it were a country, would be the third largest on the globe. Facebook, of course, is not a country, but that doesn't relieve its users of fretting about a Big Techy Brother making private information public.

Zuckerberg didn't help matters when he said that privacy was a changing "social norm." In reaction to criticism, he changed certain privacy settings to make them more secure. Still, it's difficult to understand why so many people choose to reveal so much information about themselves to so many people they hardly know, if they know them at all.

This is not "the culture of narcissism" so much as the culture of the superficial. In it, you see the social and psychological shifts that move from intimacy to interface, from touching moments to the touch of a keyboard, from eye-to-eye contact to virtual reality. People now boast of how many "friends" they have, as if quantity is quality.

While Facebook can be a harmless process for people to find out about people they once knew or would like to know, it cultivates a way of thinking and "connecting" that is veneer deep and that can be less than benign in the attitudes it fosters. More and more politicians use Facebook to be "in touch," and the phrase itself betrays a surface assumption. Ideas spread swiftly without substance. Offered as facts without verification. These network connections encourage daily bulletins to lots of people, suggesting a significance they don't have and a value they don't merit.

Marshall McLuhan famously said, "The medium is the message," suggesting that the way we get information is the information. That notion seems even more to the point today, as the space where the information is supplied becomes the message. A new Facebook feature even marks a user's location. We're frequently reminded that the digital age encourages transparency, but the reality is that there are merely more ways to see not very much. When the messenger wears no clothes, who can tell?

Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake), the co-founder of Napster in the movie, observes that a million dollars is no longer cool. "You know what's cool?" he asks. "A billion dollars." He doesn't say how the billion should be spent.

So it was a remarkable moment on "Oprah" when the real-life Mark Zuckerberg announced that he would give $100 million to the failing schools of Newark to "make a difference." His timing could have been self-serving — to counteract the negative portrait of him in the movie — but his motive seems to have matured. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is trying to change the education system in Newark by pushing parents to find better schools for their kids.

Newark charter schools now require children to win the lottery, literally, if they want to attend a school of their choice. As in most other cities, there are simply not enough spaces in charter schools for all those who want one. Christie recalls meeting a mom whose son won a coveted spot through the lottery who told him that the charter school would make the difference between her son "going to college or going to jail."

If the 26-year-old billionaire has learned something about charity in the transition from the callow Harvard dropout he was, then he may have moved from wading deep in the digital shallows to finding new depths of possibility. Like the devil, the dork is in the details. By building on Facebook to become a philanthropist, he's appealing to our better angels. You could call it "the new cool."

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© 2006, Creators Syndicate, Suzanne Fields

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