Last week I did something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. I said goodbye to my iPad.
Ah, my sweet iPad charging on the night table next to my bed. My dear electronic friend resting on my lap, ready to amuse me through long bus rides, plane trips, meetings.
What a fun friend. With my iPad, I always had a text to read, an email to answer, a video to watch, a store to shop or a podcast to listen to. With my iPad, I no longer had to be alone with my thoughts.
I loved it. No boredom. I had a three-ring circus in a small grey box. I probably would have never parted with it except for one thing—I couldn’t control it.
I tried. G-d knows I tried. Cyberspace is the Wild West. From the moment the iPad was given to me—I received it as a gift — I tried to tame it
I installed K9, Shield and a half dozen other filters I found on the app store, their icons like tiny medallions decorating my home page. With all that protection I felt safe enough to allow myself to succumb to my iPad’s myriad charms—texting, an excellent camera, Facetime video calls, and constant access to the web in a device small enough to keep in my purse.
I intended to keep the iPad for myself, Mommy’s little secret, but it wasn’t long before my device slipped into the nimble hands of my kids. It was fine, I told myself. I had installed filters. My kids and I were protected, right? Then one day while I scrolled through my youtube history, I came across what no parent wants to see.
I don’t know how it got there and I wasn’t about to embark on a witch hunt. Instead, I tested my iPad, typing in words that would bring up unwanted results. To my horror, I discovered that my carefully constructed filtering system didn’t work. My little electronic buddy was infected with 49 levels of impurity, perhaps even 50 and so, my hands trembling, my blood pressure rocketing, my mind wild with anger and fear I slung my little friend into the trash. Goodbye and good riddance.
As upset as I was, it didn’t take long for the regrets to set in. The iPad in the trash. It wasn’t junk. I had paid closed to $700 for it and we had had such fun together. Youtube videos in airports. Long car rides listening to freakonomics and Modern Love. There had to be a way to save it. After some internet sleuthing, I found one. It seemed more serious and certainly more costly but I signed up and, to my great good fortune was able to pull my iPad from the trash just minutes before the garbage men arrived.
Thinking that I was safe, my iPad and I became even better friends. I began opening it at meetings and, even worse, I began opening it late at night when I couldn’t sleep. At first, I used it just to read—an ereader is just like a book, right? but before long I began checking my email, and my personalized newsfeed, –some news but lots of cutting edge fashion and the latest on Meghan Markel, even shopping and watching videos..
Then one day the little green icon indicating that my filter was up and running disappeared. On further investigation, I learned that a family member had installed an app to disable it. After failing to reinstall it, I read the handwriting on the proverbial wall. It was time to say goodbye for good.
Acting quickly—I needed to be swift so that I wouldn’t derail my own plan–I donated it to someone who needed it for their work. Then I purchased a replacement: a censored tablet from a company called Hadran. Only in Israel.
If my iPad was a wily untamed beast with a million fingers in a million places, my new kosher tablet felt enclosed in a glatt kosher straight jacket.
No more YouTube, no more internet browser, no more podcasts, not even Jewish ones. My new tablet is boring. All I’ve got is banking, Uber, Waze, WhatsApp, Daf Yomi, Shabbos times and TorahAnytime.
If I need something else, I must turn to the Hadran rabbinical board, a faceless entity charged with the task of saving me from myself. Yes, it has a slightly Taliban edge, but I don’t feel stifled.
Life is short. We must edit our choices to reflect our highest values and I have done just that.
Today my life is quieter and perhaps less interesting, but also calmer. I sleep longer and better. My mind is quieter. I can concentrate at meetings and my kids are proud of me.