shabbat

I Love Instagram, But I Won’t Use it on Shabbat

Hans Vivek

Hans Vivek

I will freely admit that I’m kind of obsessed with Instagram. I enjoy using Facebook and the connection it gives me to the lives of my friends and family who live far away, but Instagram is my favorite social media platform. I love seeing pictures of people’s babies and even what they ate for lunch.

In fact, I rarely find people’s photos annoying, even if they often seem too good to be true (we all fib a little bit, right?). I also love posting pictures of my own kids and, unlike Facebook which is used for news, status updates and other activities, I figure if people are annoyed by pictures of kids, they wouldn’t be on Instagram.

I will also admit to painting a pretty nice picture of my children’s lives on Instagram. Rarely do I show their tantrums, or the destruction they wreak on my house every day. But anyone who knows me IRL knows that my kids, and their lives, aren’t perfect. I use the medium instead to try to document the things I want to remember, and leave out the things I would rather forget.

When I’m with my kids, I try to be with them in the present, but I also feel a call to document so that I can remember and think back on all we have done together. I really love Instagram for the way it enables me to do this. In moments when things feel difficult, looking at my feed helps me remember the moments that felt better and gives me hope that they will come again.

But one area of my life that doesn’t get the social media treatment is Shabbat. Once a week, we put the phones down and just focus on the rituals of Shabbat dinner, services, and being together. Now, it is not all sunshine and roses on Shabbat. Our dinners are often rushed, with no one sitting at the table for more than a few minutes—and at the end of the week, people can be exhausted and cranky and acting their ages. I don’t know what people imagine Shabbat dinner at a rabbi’s house to be like, but I can assure you that with three kids and two full time jobs, Shabbat dinner often would not make a pretty picture.

But it is not just my desire to avoid documenting the crazy that I don’t Instagram on Shabbat. I’m happy to have a Jewishly-imposed opportunity to just relish the moment with my family, to not think about whether or not I should snap the picture.

Because when I do think about it, the answer is always the same.

When I was growing up (in the age before Instagram), Shabbat was the primary time we spent together as a family, since everyone was often off in different directions. Some of my strongest memories involve eating meatloaf and black and white cookies around my parents’ table, and while I don’t remember if my sisters and I were perfectly behaved every dinner (I’m guessing we weren’t), I don’t need a picture to remind me of how important and meaningful that family time was.

It’s part of the fabric of my memories, a strong part. I’m pretty sure I won’t remember every Shabbat and holiday my family and I spend together, and I’m pretty sure my kids won’t either, but I am hopeful that the feelings of celebration, love and family will stick, even without the picture.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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