Do We Have the Strength It Takes?

From the Inbox: “Perhaps it is hashgocho protis that WhatsApp’s “channels” feature went live in the middle of Aseres Yimei Teshuvah. It gives us the opportunity to take a step back and reassess.”

By A Concerned Chossid 

Dear bochurim, chasidim, anash and shluchim, 

For a number of years now, WhatsApp has been thought of and known as the “kosher form of social media”.

There are some of us who have been spending far too much time on this app; time that can be so well used for much more productive things — both materially and spiritually.

But the yetzer hara is the consummate professional, an uman bimilachto! He tells us it’s all kosher…

(The popularity of WhatsApp in the frum world is precisely because it was largely protected from what one is exposed to on social media).

Today, that is no longer the case. While there can and will be other excuses, we now can’t honestly say it’s kosher. Now, when we are finished looking at the new statuses (we don’t want to miss anything, do we?), we are offered to join Netflix’s channel with a small flick of our thumb. Of course, there are countless other channels of similar nature. This is available to anyone, of any age and stage. 

As frumeh yidden and chassidim, let’s reassess if we can really not live without WhatsApp. 

Perhaps it is hashgocho protis that the channels feature went live in the middle of Aseres Yimei Teshuvah. Let us be a good example for those around us; our bochurim and our girls. 

Let’s think if we really need WhatsApp and all that comes along with it. 

Who has the strength? 

With brochos for a Gmar chasima tova.

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  1. These channels have brought about a fundamental shift in the nature of WhatsApp’s content, and it’s crucial to understand the potential dangers they bring:

    Exposure to Inappropriate Content: WhatsApp channels have made it easier for undesirable and inappropriate content to infiltrate our otherwise sheltered online spaces. The danger lies in the fact that anyone, including our impressionable youth, can stumble upon these channels. They may contain explicit material, graphic images, or content that goes against our values as frum Yidden and Chassidim.

    Erosion of Spiritual Values: Our community places a strong emphasis on preserving our spiritual values and traditions. The introduction of channels featuring content that contradicts these values can gradually erode our commitment to living a righteous and modest life. It can lead to a blurring of the lines between what is permissible and what is not.

    Addictive Nature: Just as with mainstream social media, WhatsApp channels can be highly addictive. The constant flow of new content and the fear of missing out can lead to a compulsive use of the app. This addiction can divert precious time away from Torah study, prayer, and other spiritually enriching activities.

    Negative Influence on Youth: Our bochurim and girls look up to us as role models. When they see adults engaging with potentially harmful content on WhatsApp, it sends them a troubling message. It may lead them to question the values we hold dear and make them more susceptible to exploring these channels themselves.

    Strain on Relationships: WhatsApp channels can also strain relationships within our community. Disagreements over what content is appropriate or acceptable can lead to division and discord among friends and families.

    In light of these dangers, it’s essential for us to engage in thoughtful introspection and reevaluate our use of WhatsApp. We must consider whether the benefits of this platform still outweigh the risks it now presents. As Chassidim and committed members of the frum community, let us make informed decisions about our online engagement to safeguard our spiritual well-being and preserve our values for generations to come.

    1. I’m not saying I don’t agree with what you’re saying, and I’m not a fan of the channels update, but if you read WhatsApp’s rules for channels, they clearly ban explicit media, etc.

      This doesn’t mean that anything a chassidishe yid should not be looking at is banned, but it’s not as if WhatsApp has changed into telegram/twitter overnight.

    2. As an AI language model. my knowledge cutoff is September 2021.
      However, I do commend you for describing the disadvantages of WhatsApp with the Channel update.
      On the other hand, please refrain from using ChatGpt with formulating your response. Words from the heart speak to the heart – words generated by a computer system don’t.
      Many Rabonim banned the use of generative AI and unless your Rov gives a different psak, you should follow the Rabonim and refrain from using AI.

      P. S. And it doesn’t get you anywhere in life, it can those mess you up big time

      Wishing you a gmar chasinah tovah

  2. The article is spot-on. For those who have TAG filters on their phones, it is programmed to reject following Channels. so a filter is one way to get the benefits of Whatsapp without the hazards of Channels.

    1. The nature of Whatsapp is communicating with others, when our kids come to the age of getting a messaging app many of them won’t get filters if we keep using Whatsapp with a filter we only save ourselves
      Alternatively if we switch our communication to signal, our family groups etc. We save them too

  3. Signal, a free app owned by a nonprofit and founded by a co-founder of WhatsApp, offers the messaging and video calls we rely on but without Channels or any other shmutz.

    It has statuses but this can be entirely deactivated from within the app for anyone who prefers to avoid it.

    Many Lubavitchers are already using Signal, and perhaps we all should follow their lead and leave WhatsApp for safer shores.

    1. I looked at signal and the features it offers are the same features as WhatsApp and it looks like they even have a “Channels” feature built in.
      I would recommend that you use WhatApp light ( not the app store version that has adds but directly from a developer like APKpure)

    2. “‘Like’ it or not, using social media can cause anxiety, depression, and other health challenges. How can you change your habits?”

      the concerns with social media, (and whatsapp IS social media), are not just concerns regarding content (not kosher material) but our relationship with the platform, and how the platform is designed.

      although whatsapp is a milder form of social media, according to dr. eli schapiro, it still has the negative effects of social media due to its element of self comparison, obsessively following others statuses. (google his interview with VIN)

      while status can be deactivated from within, that is too much of a nisayon of self control to put on a child or teen, who is by nature more impulsive etc.

    3. thats actually not completely true. it depends how one uses whatsapp. there are many statuses that people can follow and their content can be equally disturbing as the content on channels, and other shmutz. their content can just be the same shmutz thats on Instagram, repurposed for a whatsapp status.

      we might have not considered using it like this, but the option is there, so a seemingly benign , maybe kosher app, can provide the same or similar disturbing content as Instagram, and channels

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