It’s been a little over thirty years since the internet has been made available for everyone. It has already been said that since the invention of the wheel, no technology has revolutionized our lives so fast and so profoundly like the internet. None of the things we take for granted today would have been possible without it.
Yet, the internet has not made us happier. So after thirty years of attempting to find happiness in virtual connections between us, it is time to progress. It is time to shift from the inter-net to the inner-net—a network of hearts that feel one another and care for one another.
When the internet dawned on us, it promised to liberate humanity from the shackles of physical location, to take us to faraway lands and exotic places from the comfort of our own desktop. It promised to bring together people from across the world, help us make friends across the world, and bridge gaps between nations and civilizations.
In reality, we are lonelier now than ever, and many of our physical friends have dissolved into the virtual universe. Thanks to the internet, it is much easier to communicate, but far too often, communication is used for bullying, sex-trafficking, slave-trafficking, censorship of views (how ironic), intimidation, or simply to sell us things we probably don’t need.
It is not the fault of the internet. We thought that it would make life great, but we installed in it the reason that makes us unhappy in the first place: our bad nature. The internet isn’t bad or good; it merely reflects who we are. Since we are bad, everything that we create turns against us and eventually harms us. The only possible solution is to change our nasty nature, and we couldn’t begin too soon.
I would not recommend avoiding the internet. I myself use it all the time. In fact, I realized its huge positive potential as soon as I had learned about it. Four years after it was made available, I set up my first internet site for teaching how to bring people’s hearts together through the wisdom of Kabbalah.
Although I recognized the enormous commercial potential of the internet from its onset, I made it a point that the authentic content on my site would be available for everyone, free of charge. Over the years, and with the help of my students and friends, we have made our internet site by far the largest content site on the wisdom of Kabbalah, where all the content—text, audio, and video—is still free for all. We translate all the content we can into dozens of languages, including live lectures and daily lessons, and offer it at no cost.
We have no interest in controlling the internet; we are striving to build an inner net: a network of hearts connected by mutual care and empathy. This is what the world needs; it is the only remedy for today’s multiple crises. However, we can only administer this cure to one another. One cannot heal oneself with love; it takes at least two, and usually many more.
Evidently, no regulation helps curb the hatred that is oozing from today’s mobile devices and computers. The relative anonymity of the internet helps expose our nature more than we would dare display it in a physical setting, so the ugly truth is gushing out, and we can finally acknowledge it.
Were it not for this recognition, we would never believe that this is the real nature of humanity. Now that we have placed a digital mirror into the depth of our hearts, we can see what lies there in the dark. It is as the scriptures write about human nature: “Every intent of the thoughts of his heart is only evil all day long” (Gen. 6:5).
Therefore, now that we have become interconnected, it is time to become inner-connected. It is time to realize that we are all dependent on each other, and unless we place unity as our top priority, we will inflict irreparable harm on ourselves.
If we are still here, and if we can still write and talk about it, it means that it is not too late to fix it. More than anything, we should be thankful to the internet for showing us our true selves. Now we should roll up our sleeves and get to work on mending our broken human ties.