Networks, Judaism & LiveJournal. Talk by Theresa M. Senft, Ph.D. at Jewish Funders Network National Conference Denver, Colorado 13 April 2006 Questions: email [email protected] Talk Breakdown. Who am I? What’s the difference between a sphere and a network, and why does this matter?
Social software (n): computer applications designed expressly for the purpose of facilitating human socialization.
Began in 2000
Nearly 2 million active journals
Half these updated in last thirty days
Roughly 2:1 female/male
Largest age range: 14-27
Above, a screenshot of some of the fifty five responses given to the author’s question, “What did people do in the time before Advil?”
If you could tell these progressive (but somewhat older) Jewish community leaders one thing about what places like LiveJournal mean to you, what would you tell them?
I go to shul for the whole "shul experience", but I don't feel like it's my shul, per se, or that the people there are my community, in part because I wasn't really raised in any community, but also because I know I'll be moving somewhere else when I'm done with college and I see this phase of my life as largely temporary and transitional.
Jewish institutions are not looking for a way to hold onto Jews like me because they recognize that there is no way to hold onto Jews like me, and as institutions they have to try and perpetuate themselves.
LJ, however, has enabled me to put together, not so much a community, but a clique of Jews I can get along with.
If I walked into an orthodox shul and told them what I thought about some of their traditions or even asked about them, I would be encouraged to leave and be the topic of discussion afterwards.”
Because weirdjews is inherently a FORUM, and not a place of worship, there is more leniency in expressing your opinion or asking for others' thoughts.”
Young Jews keep hearing about the increasing polarization and fragmentation of the global Jewish community: Orthodox Jews won't talk to Reform Jews, left-wing Jews won't talk to right-wing Jews, and so on.
Whether they mean to or not, I think the traditional offline community usually reinforces these divisions far more than they challenge them- everybody goes to their own place, they talk among themselves, and never seem to get back around to regrouping as a collective.
I have met and spoken with far more Jews, and far more different kinds of Jews, especially those who hold opposing views of myself (in politics and religion) than I ever would have in person, and it's helped give those ideas and beliefs a human face. I still disagree with them, but I (generally) no longer demonize them, and I really don't know if this ever would have happened in real life. I think such communication and understanding can only be a good thing.