Facebook Forgiveness…Yom Kippur in the Electronic Age

I thought about writing this in my Facebook status box this morning…To all those I have wronged, I’m sorry.  Then, I thought, how disingenuous and trite that sounded.   As a kid, I used to nervously think about Yom Kippur and all its implications. Of course, the YK liturgy usually compounded my anxiety with frightening descriptions of angels trembling, the book of life, who shall live and who shall die. I wasn’t paralyzed with fear, mind you, but I took the forgiveness aspect of it rather seriously.  I actually asked my family members and friends for forgiveness without the crutch of Facebook, Twitter, email, or Instagram.  Ironically, the more technology we acquire to stay in touch, the less we are able to reach out personally and connect as humans, as we did back in the “stone ages” before all these technological marvels were a reality.

Admittedly, I too have fallen into the ease of connecting via the computer. I appreciate the fact that I am now in touch or reunited with those I grew up with, or befriended along the timeline of my life. I don’t really need to ask them for forgiveness, because if I did something that long ago, we have either forgotten it, or, they’re simply not on my friend list.

So, why do I feel compelled to put out a blanket “I’m sorry”status for all of the 329 not my closest and personal friends to see?  Why don’t I just get on the phone or send a personal message?  Is it that I like to see my little like button rack up the number of hits I get?  Perhaps I was unaware that I wronged someone and this easily gets me off the hook?  Or, maybe it’s more altruistic in that it technically provides someone with an open opportunity to ask ME for forgiveness. Hmmm. 

It seems that seeking or granting forgiveness is a prickly challenge. It requires forethought, emotional energy, soul searching and diplomatic wordsmithing.  It’s an intensely busy day at the office for our moral consciences and I hate it.  I despise conflict; moreover, I’m twitchy with that murky feeling of unknowingly hurting another person.  Yet, the feelings that expose and humble us are the true grit and guts of Yom Kippur; I hate grit and guts. Facebook forgiveness seems like a good compromise, certainly much simpler and more time efficient than defying convention and going old school with the archaic  t-e-l-e-p-h-o-n-e. 

I tried to relate this message to my daughter who is close to Bat Mitzvah and for the last week has been referring to Yom Kippur as “the day of evil.” 

“Why do you call it that?” I ask.

“I hate that everyone is sad.” I try to make her understand that it’s not a sad holiday per se, like Tisha B’av, rather, it’s contemplative.  She wasn’t buying it.

“ I hate (emphasis on the hate) that you get a really bad headache from lack of coffee, and then you’re grumpy.” 

“I’m not grumpy.” I insist.  She crosses her arms, taps her foot along with that signature twelve-year old bravado smirk.

“Okay, I may get a little grumpy.”  I admit. “But I’m not sad.” 

“So what would you call it?” She asks. 

“I would call it…uncomfortable, but not because I can’t have coffee.  It’s uncomfortable because I’m forced to look inside myself.  I need to face the flaws and try to rummage up any remaining dormant strength I have left in my reserves to fix it, whether the issue is with myself or somebody else.”

 “Well, wouldn’t it be easier to do that with a cup of coffee?” She says wryly.

 “Honey, forgiveness isn’t supposed to be easy.” I responded.

In the end, I decided to drop the Facebook forgiveness thing and leave my status updates to all things mundane and/or quirky.  I guess there was a part of me that felt that forgiveness shouldn’t be demoted to a paltry and mediocre update. Instead, I am trying very hard to upgrade forgiveness to a deeper, more personal level, which isn’t always easy to do, especially without coffee.

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Scarborough, Canada

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Manchester, United Kingdom

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