When I get up in the morning, I do not want to look at the news. Almost everything I read about consists of the BDS movement, terrorist attacks, ISIS, church burning in the USA, and many other depressing stories. Lately, when I look at my Facebook news feed, I see a lot of negativity.
Last year, it was revealed that Facebook had conducted an experiment on over 600,000 users to see how their moods were affected by removing either all of the positive posts or all of their negative posts on their news feed. You can read more about the study here.
In order to shed more light on some of the dangers of becoming numb to all of the negative news, Israeli Filmmaker Barak Shavit is working on a new film called iSyndrome, which explores the pitfalls of Depersonalization Disorder: a dangerous condition where a person becomes disconnected and oftentimes results in depression.
After witnessing a triple suicide bombing in Jerusalem when he was a teenager and seeing how his young children reacted to the sirens during last year’s operation with Gaza, Barak decided to set the tone of his film during last year’s war. The main character is bombarded by a constant steam of negative news and cannot bear to watch anymore and becomes numb with Depersonalization Disorder. His wife at first tries to get him to snap out of it, yet, realizes it is more complex and must resort to drastic measures, ultimately triggering a near death experience.
Barak is currently gathering the last funds for his film on Indiegogo.
Though we live in a time of greater access and better quality of life, the amount of people suffering from anxiety and depression has increased manifold. It is extremely important that we take care not to get too depressed about the news, while also not becoming numb to all of the terrible things going on. We need to maintain a balance for the sake of our mental health and well-being.
My local Jerusalem community is still recovering from the tragic death of a young and active member. Being single and a new oleh can feel at times very isolating, however, we are not alone. We need to reach out more to our friends. We, as a community, must take it upon ourselves to look outside of ourselves and be more aware of how our friends and neighbors are doing and feeling, so that drastic measures are not taken.
This week many Jews began the three week period of mourning over the temple believing that the 2nd temple was destroyed due to baseless hatred and lack of concern for one another. Barak Shavit’s intense tale, especially at this time of deep personal and communal alienation, serves as a reminder of the need to increase awareness regarding our interpersonal relationships and intensify our positive thinking and good deeds for one another.