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Rachel Oranim made Aliyah with Nefesh B’Nefesh in 2012. She currently lives with her husband in Jerusalem and bakes the most delicious cupcakes!
In our modern world, we face the ultimate information overload. Our culture is so highly interconnected through social media, blogging and the magic of the search engine, that it has become the first stop for people looking for information. Instead of turning to the proper sources, people turn to Google, Facebook or other social media networks for their information.
In my family we call this phenomenon, “Dr. Google syndrome.” Anytime I get sick, my first instinct is to Google my symptoms to see if I can self-diagnose my problem and avoid going to the doctor. I usually end up in a complete panic as WebMD so gently lets me know that I have some terminal disease when in truth, I have a common cold, something that a doctor would have taken 2-3 minutes of speaking with me to figure out. Sure enough, with a few days of rest and fluids, I am as good as new, making my panic and fear seem silly and overblown.
Being that information is available in mere seconds with a few taps on a keyboard, and crowdsourcing on Facebook has become the norm, it is important to remember where to draw the line. For me, it was learning that a medical diagnosis from Dr. Google would leave me worse off than taking out the time to go see a real, living, breathing medical professional who could not only diagnose me, but provide me with the appropriate treatment, rather than allowing myself to panic over nothing.
I have witnessed the “Dr. Google” phenomenon a lot in my work as an Aliyah advisor. I am often confronted with misconceptions and misinformation about Aliyah and life in Israel from my future Olim. “Well, I read on Facebook that…” or, “My friend said that if…” Those well-intentioned comments from friends can spread misinformation like wildfire. Often the information is incorrect, overblown, or completely outdated, leaving a future Oleh in a panic because the information could potentially throw a wrench in their plans.
Just like sometimes, it is important to consult a doctor for your medical issues instead of trusting an internet search engine to generate thousands of (incorrect) answers for you, it is important to consult with an Aliyah advisor regarding your Aliyah questions. The internet has its value and learning from the experience of others certainly has its place, but every person is different, every Aliyah is different, and your circumstances may prove different than that of your friend who made Aliyah years before.
A few pro tips:
DO use the internet to do some background research. Learn about different communities, schools, banks, cell phone companies etc. (Check out the Nefesh B’Nefesh site! It may surprise you just how much information is readily available!)
DON’T take information posted by people on Facebook at face value. Each person will have a different experience and faces their own challenges in their process.
DO use Facebook to gather inspiration and tips from friends on how to make your Aliyah more successful!
DON’T crowd-source your benefits, army rules or your Aliyah status. This information needs to come from the experts or you could find yourself confused and misinformed.
DO check in with your Aliyah Advisor and ask questions! The more you know, the better you can plan and more successful your Aliyah can be.
Search engines and social media have a place in the Aliyah process but it is important to remember that the best place to get accurate information is at the source. There is no substitute for accurate and personalized answers from the experts in field. If you really feel that urge, that social media pull sucking you in, feel free to Google me and I’d be happy to share some tips with you!
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