The Magnitude and Root-Causes of Today’s Kedusha Crisis
An email received by GYE from Rabbi Y.W:
My partner and I are directors of a local kiruv organization that realizes that nowadays many in the frum community need a tremendous amount of kiruv and chizuk as well.
I am aware of the enormous help GYE provides, and that you are among the worldwide leaders to help address this enormous emerging problem.
We want to get a sense of the magnitude of the problems that have arisen as a result of digital technology. We are particularly interested to learn about the prevalence of "binge watching" in the frum community, and how extensive is the inappropriate use of social media among people who have a religious background
We know people (who learned in yeshiva and even kollel) who are so addicted to binge watching that they watch netflix on shabbos. We know frum people using social media to foster inappropriate relationships (to say the least). We would like to get a sense of how big the problem is. We suspect that it is far bigger than many of our leaders realize.
We would like to direct our efforts to help address the core roots that lead to these problems.
Thank you so much
Hi. Unfortunately we don't have any specific stats on binge-watching and/or inappropriate social media usage. But GuardYourEyes has thousands of frum yidden turning to us for help from all over the world for help with lust-addiction. These are people who are involved in a range of inappropriate behaviors, ranging from watching soft-core and hard-core porn, masturbation, and occasionally going further than that as well. But we can only help those who are looking for help, as they say, "You can bring a horse to the water but you can't force it to drink".
For those who have progressed beyond the screen, we generally refer them to SA 12-Step groups and/or therapy, because live "acting-out" usually requires live help and support to be affective. Our org is responsible for bringing hundreds of frum Yidden into these live 12-Step groups. But the main bulk of our members are not full-blown addicts, but rather people who have developed these unhealthy habits, recognize the incompatibility of these behaviors with the frum lifestyle and need help and support to break free. You might find the 8 minute video on the homepage of guardyoureyes.com very interesting, as it explains how we help people in detail.
As far as the "magnitude of the problem", I can say that it is probably the greatest challenge facing Klal Yisrael today. Probably about 85% of frum people have internet access today (in the U.S.) and perhaps only about 30% use only filtered internet. The accessibility and anonymity makes this a huge challenge. Kids are naturally curious, teens are pulled in, and by the time they get married, many have become addicted or developed unhealthy habits. It's hard to give exact numbers, but we know the problem is everywhere. We have over 20,000 members worldwide on our English and Hebrew websites, and we believe this is still a drop in the bucket.
If you have a chance to listen to this 1 minute recording of Rabbi Twerski at our board meeting last year, as well as read a number of articles from the Mishpacha that might be of interest. One is a column from Yononson Rosenblum back in 2011, and another 3 "Lifeline" stories from 2014, 2015 and 2016 (it seems they do about one story a year on this topic).