By Yonatan Gordon
On June 21 Twitter underwent a series of service disruptions over a three-hour period. For about two hours and forty minutes, the micro communication world of over 500 million active users was quiet. What happens when social goes silent? Do our ready tweets turn any sweeter after the site is turned back on?
In his article on zdnet.com after in outage, Zack Whittaker sums up public sentiment as follows: “Its users have become accustomed to Twitter ‘just working.’ People don’t notice when a service is working: they only notice its absence when it’s not.”
Maturing through Silence
Zack calls these moments of silence a “maturing” process. When undergoing a period of silence before speech, we enable ourselves to speak even more effectively. Look at those you follow on Twitter. If the tweets before and after the outage have some qualitative difference to them, then this is a good sign. Some people always have this “moment of silence” before speech. These are the people least troubled by this interruption.
As we mentioned in our essay Hatching 140 Characters at a Time, tweets are meant to be continual, positive affirmations conveyed to others. Now we will say something more. For speech to be positive, it should be filled with kindness (Chesed). There is negative speech that attempts to silence others. But to speak with kindness means to first silence ourselves in order not to cut down others. Kind speech comes from first silencing ourselves in order to encourage the speech and potentials of others.
While 140 characters signifies the unification of Wisdom (Chochmah) and Understanding (Binah), the product of the two is Consciousness (Da’at). Within consciousness there are two levels, the higher and the lower. The higher (Da’at Elyon) allows a person to see the world from God’s perspective where everything is as if it were not even created. But then the transition to lower consciousness (Da’at Tachton) is to be able to come down from this higher perspective in order to teach people on their level. To recognize that God creates the world.
The wisdom here is to learn how to listen. If you are a follower of someone, these outages were a good time to reflect on the act of listening. The maturation process occurs when followers reach greater clarity as to who to follow. This is called discovering the sweetness of your teacher. Moses is sweeter than honey.
Secret of Secrets
To be a tweeter implies that you have something to say on a daily basis. There are four levels of interpretation to the Torah. The highest is called the secrets (sod). To be connected to the secrets of Torah (Kabbalah and Chassidut) is to merit to receive from the Infinite Wellspring (Neviat Ha’Ein Sof). People that learn at this level are always coming out with something new. Every day, the Torah is completely as new in their eyes. They are always revealing something novel.
How does an outage signify something game changing? As Zack wrote in his article, users became accustomed to Twitter “just working.” In order to reveal insights, the landscape for these ideas needs to be consistent. What happens when the ideas become too much for the landscape? Than the landscape disappears in the face of the idea. This dual relationship is what is called in Kabbalah the unification of mah and ban1.
The name ban is reality (the landscape for ideas), while the name mah is essence (the concepts or ideas being presented). In general the person conveying the message signifies the mah aspect entering ban.
Our question is not whether the relationship of teacher to student (tweeter to follower) exists; but rather how consistent this relationship is. There are two levels of interaction. The first as we said is the unification of Wisdom and Understanding, also termed Father (Aba) and Mother (Ima). The second is between Z”A (Zeir Anpin: the six emotions of the heart from loving-kindness through foundation) and Nuvkah (reality). The difference between these two interactions is that while the coupling of Aba and Ima is constant, the interchange of Z”A and Nuvkah only occurs during an exchange. Whereas Aba and Ima are constant and never changing, the coupling of Z”A and Nukvah is fleeting. They keep to their own, just from time to time, they meet up with each other again.
This then serves as the basis for a discussion on consistency. If my tweets are purely emotive (stemming from Z”A: the six emotions of the heart), then the main thing is that my tweets be consistent. The lack of tweets may, God forbid, be a sign that I am not fully kind or compassionate to those I am tweeting to. If my tweets come from the coupling of Aba and Ima (the intellectual union of Wisdom and Understanding), then my connection with my followers is always present.
The maturation that silence affords is the chance to ascend from an emotive relationship to an intellectual one. When the tweets go silent, devoted followers have no choice to connect directly to the essence (Aba or Wisdom) or their teacher.
With this we can explain why we seek consistency in social media platforms. As discussed earlier, any rectification between ideas and reality, relates to the coupling of mah and ban. The question though is at what level am I tweeting? If my tweets comes from a desire to connect intellectually with my followers, then maybe I am not so concerned about an outage or with tweeting on a daily basis. If there is a period of silence, my followers are still connected to me through studying or remembering my teachings.
If my tweets are emotive in nature, then will my followers think that I am as kind and compassionate after the absence? If they reply to my tweet, and I don’t respond within minutes, am I still a good communicator? This outage was unique in that the famous whale “overload” picture also failed to load. So too, the potential to connect with a teacher is sometimes best reached out of complete darkness and silence. The advantage of Aba over Ima is the understanding that all of reality is as nothing before God. So too when the substance of reality gives way to ideas, then the essence of the concepts become revealed for all to see.
1. Mah equals the full spelling of God’s essential Name Havayah which equals 45, while ban equals the full spelling at 52. They are the archetypal male and female aspects of the light of the Creator in creation. The secret of rectification is that every point of the Name Ban be “married” by the soul of its corresponding “soul-mate” inherent in the Name Mah.
Photo Credit: Twitter