Carol Green Ungar

A Post Yom Kippur New Beginning.

No, this isnt about Bibi or the Saudis or even the foiled prayer service in  Tel Aviv.

This time, it’s about me, Yom Kippur, and my media consumption habit.

Yeah, it’s bad. No, I dont scroll Instagram in my bed–I cut that one out, but I’m not that far away. Though I start my day with prayers and then a short walk devoted to personal prayer and at the same time wracking up another 1000 pedometer steps–my day’s goal is 9000+, it’s not long before I glue myself to the screen.

Yes, of course. I have to check my email. Perhaps my book has been accepted by a publisher–so far, no such luck. Sadly, publishers have no compunctions about failing to respond to your offering, which is nothing less than a piece of your soul on the page, but that’s another problem. Also, in case you’re worrying about me, the book in question is a kids’ picture book–only 800 words, not as grand a tragedy as a rejected War and Peace.

In any case, the publisher has yet to respond, but what about the other emails I may be missing–notices from the bank, letters from old friends, court summonses, parking tickets? I dont get many of the former, and the latter generally arrive in their physical form.

Even with my efforts to unsubscribe the overwhelming majority of my email is JUNK much of it designed to entice me down the proverbial rabbit hole where I inevitably fall. . An article here, a shopping site there, a video or two or three or five, and woosh, the day’s more precious hour is gone.

Reading through the Al Chet’ yesterday opened my eyes to how bad this is. It’s not just time and money wasted but a vast litany of sins. Lightmindedness? Isnt that what Instagram is all about.

Foolish talk? What else can you call Bethenny Frenkel’s ruminations on the pros and cons of drugstore doo, aka beauty products if you’re not a follower.  I’ve never contoured in my life –the notion of drawing brown lines around my face seems bizarre,. Why do I watch others do it?

Ditto for videos of other people getting plastic surgery? I”‘ve seen more of those than I care to admit. Also styling. You dont have to be a genius to realize that solid-colored clothing can mix and match  especially when most of it is black or white.

These vids or reels or tiktoks, different names for the same drek are like the old-time soaps–caught in a time warp, the same content spewed out in different ways daily. Why waste my one precious life on them?

Yes, I  like watching this stuff–it’s addictive-like eating potato chips for the mind. Sometimes, I come away with ideas on makeup styling, exercise, and vegan cooking, and sometimes even a good laugh, but not that often. As the Yom Kippur machzor has pointed out, it’s too much.

So what is the alternative? A better start to my day. But what is? Here’s a tentative plan–prayer from a Siddur followed by personal prayer conducted during a walk in the sunshine–being outdoors cuts your risk of depression (guess how I learned that?–ironic, right) followed by breakfast and some Torah study. As I already read the weekly Torah portion with Rashi, I”hope to add something new this year. Malbim, a late 19th-century commentator my grandfather admired–he owned the book, so I assume that’s why. I hope I join the fan club too!

I will check my email–it is a work tool for me. I’ll probably also continue to watch Instagram reels and buy stuff online, not all useful or smart. That’s life in 2023, but by preceding it all with a heavy dose of Torah study I hope to make this a better year.

Check this space to see how I do.

About the Author
Carol Ungar is a prize-winning author who writes from the Judean Hills.
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