07/21/2010 - 09:15

Do you know what your friends who fasted on Tisha B'Av had to eat when it was over? Chances are, if you and they belong to Facebook, you do.

Trivial information? Maybe. Enhance you life? Not much. But there was something so thoroughly, well, Jewish, about how, in the last hours of the fast so many  people -- at least among my group of online friends and acquaintances -- gathered on Facebook's virtual streetcorner to count down the last hours and longingly detail their most craved-for meals. Those in Israel, well into the early morning of Wednesday, gloated of their satiety. The feeling was very much like hanging out in shul in the hours between prayer services on a long, trying holiday, sharing anticipation. A strict rabbi might say this socializing isn't in keeping with the mournful spirit of the day, but anything that eases the difficulty of lack of food and water in mid-summer should be welcomed.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index this week gave Facebook only a 64 percent failing grade based on a poll of users, which ranks the social media giant with other companies that consumers have to use, like airlines and utility companies, but don't feel very good about it. Although it will continue to be a multi-billion dollar operation for the foreseeable future, serious privacy issues and, for some, annoyance with its constant format tinkering create an opening down the road for a serious competitor.

But for now, as the Tisha B'Av rap session proves, there's simply no better way to instantly communicate with peers around the world about common interests, issues, wants, desires and, not least, gripes. So for those thousands of Jews who were likely passing those final hours with status updates, comments and instant messages, Facebook was the next best thing to a bagel stuffed with tuna salad, lettuce and tomato and a tall glass of iced tea.

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Adam, I was actually surprised that I didn't see more talk about break-fast meals and the painfully long Tisha B'Av summer fast on Facebook. I'm connected to a lot of Tisha B'Av fasters, but didn't see a lot of talk regarding the fast on Facebook. Maybe Facebook was prioritizing the status updates of my non-fasting FB friends?