A rather unusual event took place in New York City this past Sunday: the New York Mets' Citi Field was filled to capacity with Orthodox Jews — males only, in keeping with the religion's code — who were there to attend a rally about the dangers of the internet. So populous was the gathering that nearby Arthur Ashe stadium (20,000 capacity) had to also be rented out, while women interested in observing events were provided "viewing parties" in Orthodox neighborhoods of Brooklyn and New Jersey.
The main thrust of the meeting, as espoused by spokesperson Eytan Kobre, was to identify and guard against the major threats posed by the internet, primary among them being ready access to pornography, which "has reached epidemic proportions" and is "eating away the fabric of society." It's difficult to agree with Mr. Kobre's sweeping conclusions that broken marriages, violence against women, and social disintegration can all be blamed on some nudity and over-aggressive comments sections online, but he goes on to raise some salient points later in the article. He notes that as we've grown more connected online, we're also becoming more distant in person, replacing conversation with "tweeting and twittering."
According to The New York Times, the meeting was sponsored by a rabbinical group that is connected to a software company specializing in selling web filtering software to Orthodox Jews. You won't be surprised to find, therefore, that the conclusion reached at the end of the rally was that we should all, Jews or otherwise, install internet filtering software on our machines as a "minimal base line of protection."