In Igros Moshe (O.C. 2:36) Rav Moshe Feinstein z"l wrote a responsa to the question whether a Rabbi may remind his congregation that one isn't allowed to speak from the beginning of the Shofar blowing until the very last of the blowing and not merely until after the initial 30 sounds are blown. The issue was whether the congregation would accept his words or not. If they would not accept what he says then it might be better not annouce it and let them do something improper unbeknownst to them rather than be fully aware that it's not allowed and do it anyway. (Mutav Shayihiyu Shogegim Veh-al Yihiyu Mayzidim)
R' Moshe F. decided that if some of the congregation will accept that Rabbi's words, then it's worth saying it, if no one will listen than it's better not to say anything.
I found myself asking this very same question and I am relying on the great R' Moshe F. to write this.
Many widespread issues can be addressed by the Gedolai Hador as they see what we see but with their deep insight stemming from their wisdom in Torah, they see better and farther. This makes them best suited to address an issue and have it well received.
However, there are times that it's Bamakom Sheayn Anashim Hishtadale Lehiyous Ish and one has no choice but to stand up and say something.
At this time of year we are getting ready for Yom Hadin (The Day of Judgement).
We all know that this is the time of year when Hashem will pass judgment over us so we try to do “something more” than we would otherwise do so that He will look favorably upon us and judge us accordingly.
This is all well and good and should be encouraged in all possible ways.
However, it is worth taking a moment to reflect how many of us are possibly being Tovel B'Sheretz Biyado (immersing ourselves in a Mikvah with a Tameh rodent in our hand) which might dampen or even neutralize our “something more” that we undertake.
As a network administrator and a computer technician by trade for many years, I can say that I have a relatively unique perspective on how internet usage is being used.
For various reasons over the years part of my responsibilities has been to check internet usage logs.
My findings are that many of us spend a too much time using the internet as our TV.
But for at least two reasons it surpasses TV in the negative sense.
Firstly, internet is available to many (if not most) in the home as well as at work. TV (if one owns one) usually waits until the person comes home thereby giving them some time to escape its time wasting tentacles. For an increasing amount of us, internet follows us everywhere we go in the form of a laptop (with wireless) or sophisticated PDA.
So many of us may piously boast that we won't dare have a TV in the house but that is a facade as we really do have it, the name just changed.
Secondly, unless one just stays on a Torah related site, they run the risk of quickly descending into Tumah.
I can't say how many times I have tracked a computer user's log showing how this happens.
They first check their email. ("what's wrong with that?"). After a few minutes I see them check the news. ("hey, I gotta know what's going on in the world.") The news site happens to have a flashy ad or a racy topic. The semi-innocent click on the link brings one to the next level and, in one way or another, the user finds themselves in Avi Avos Hatumah.
Sometimes they regret it and leave after a short while; others might stick around a little longer. Nebech, some get addicted to it and I can't say more but you get the point.
Feel free to replace "news" with "sports", "shopping", "financials" or whatever applies to the given situation. Unfortunately, the scenario works well with these too.
Let us not overlook that fact that even if one just goes to 100% Kosher sites (a rare occurrence indeed) all the time, the collective time wasted on such material is staggering.
A little quiet time reflecting about this topic might help us work out for what and for how long it is appropriate to use the internet.
Anything that doesn't fit with our "internet mission statement" shouldn't be visited.
For those who are the "all or nothing" type, try a "Taanis Internet". That is to just do the BARE minimum for your work and then walk away, period.
And of course, it is worthwhile to ponder the benefits vs. the cost of sending a mass email inviting everyone to "youSchmutz" to view some important video or another.
Remember, at some point in time or another one will have to answer to the Almighty for doing so. We hope one will have a very good reason for justifying Schlepping everyone down with them into a virtual brothel to get inspired by a "must see" video.
In case one has lost their sensitivity whether it's ok to be on a given site or not, you don't need anyone's opinion, just sit your adorable 3 year old on your lap (if you don't have one, imagine you did) and surf away.
From my understanding of the Neshamah, one isn't any less holy than a child is (we just have stains that we put there) so one should treat themselves the same way.
If we are to really take upon ourselves to be worthy of a good Gezar Din (judgement) then it might be a good idea to stop and "check our logs" to make sure that we're running a tight ship.
Since Rosh Hashanah is almost here, now is a good time to do it.
Kesivah Vechasimah Tova,
P.S. The Midah of Nekius in Mesilas Yesharim can help us be reminded of the issues regarding looking at inappropriate content while the Hakdamah and the first two Midos of the said Sefer can give us more clarity as why not to spend too much time on the web in general.
Please send me your good workable ideas that you have on how to manage ones internet usage (time wise and content wise) so I can pass it around to others who are need of it.