Jewish identity in the age of social media

Taylor Levy
August 12, 2022

Michael Bossetta, a researcher at Lund University, estimates less than one percent of social media posts contains antisemitic content. Yet, that content has a far reach. Researchers from the Center for Countering Digital Hate studied over 700 posts that contained antisemitic content and found the posts had been viewed 7.14 million times collectively. The same study found five major social media companies, including Instagram and Twitter, did not remove 84% of antisemitic content.

None of this is a surprise; social media tends to show viewers like-minded people. Someone who spreads antisemitic libel is likely to be shown posts that spread similar hatred.

But the opposite is true: when Jews find one another online, the shared history and connection grow into a positive relationship that gives young Jews a platform to proudly display their identity. Despite online antisemitism, social media has allowed Jews to gain a greater sense of identity by connecting with other Jews.

For centuries, the world has tried to define Jews. This external identity that has been imposed on Jews is often one of weakness and shame. While some social media posts use these tropes, the Jewish presence online has allowed us to take back the narrative, defining ourselves on our own terms. Being connected online with other Jews has enabled this internal identity to thrive, becoming one of resilience, pride and strength.

This internal identity is shaped by the thousands of young Jews who have taken to social media platforms to educate, learn and take pride in their identity. Jewish youth have led the way to combat antisemitism with Jewish pride and an understanding of who the Jewish people are.

When Jews are faced with such hate, being equipped with the tools to combat it is empowering. In the age of social media, standing up to hatred often means engaging with those who have platforms greater than the total number of Jews in the world. Although it often feels as though no one listens to our voices, it is important to recognize that our activism matters and the change we can make is vast.

Our understanding of the Jewish people must not come from the hatred we face, but from the resilience and pride we feel for being Jewish. For thousands of years, much of the non-Jewish world has sought to rid the world of the Jewish people. Against all odds, the Jewish people are still here and that is always something worth celebrating.

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