This story is from Ayelet, who can take care of herself without wearing bubble wrap every day.
In my very yeshivish high school, everything was guilty until proven innocent.
The only exception was technology. Anything under the category of technology was permanently guilty, and when one had no choice but to use it, one had to use it with the greatest of reluctance and fear.
We kept hearing speeches about how bad the internet was, how catastrophic smartphones were, how this was the nisayon of our times. Everything from divorce to the OTD phenomenon was earnestly blamed on the internet. Girls were afraid to say that they bought their cute sweater online, and my principal had some loyal henchmen hack into students’ Facebook and email accounts to delete them. She warned us that if anyone would mention the word internet again, even once, we would get kicked out of school.
When I was in tenth grade, a few of the biggest Bais Yaakov schools in my city decided unanimously to ban students from having cell phones. We had the privilege of listening to a fire and brimstone rabbi thunder about how cell phones were destroying us and covering our souls in slime. And how texting was the gateway to all sins.
A few months later, the GO heads (a cross between cheerleaders and students council in BY schools) launched a Kislev campaign with an El Al theme, playing on the words Maalin bekodshim.
We got a shiny mock brochure from El Al with pesukim, puns and tie-ins interspersed throughout the text. At the bottom, there was a 1800 number for El Al that they had made up.
One naive ninth grader took it a bit literally and called the number, expecting to hear a GO hotline.
What she heard made her start a frantic chain call to every girl in the school, warning them not to call that number.
Of course, by the time the chain call reached the last girl, we had all listened to the hotline.
“Welcome to the hottest hotline in North America! Guys, to meet sexy chicks, press 1. Gals, to meet hot guys, press 2. If you are under 18, please hang up.”
We all had a good laugh. The next day, the loudspeaker informed us that we were to convene for an assembly, immediately.
As we walked up the stairs to the auditorium, I turned to my friend and exulted, “Finally! After all this time, they finally realized that no matter how they try to shelter us, we’re all going to be exposed somehow or another anyway. Maybe now they’ll finally come to their senses and instead of building thicker walls, finally teach us how to actually deal with the things we inevitably come into contact with.”
We walked into the auditorium, and there was my principal, standing pale and trembling at the podium.
As we sat down, she started speaking in the tragic voice of the baal koreh when he reads “vahair Shushan navocha.”
“Girls”, she said brokenly. “A terrible thing happened yesterday. A terrible wake up call that reminded us that nothing is innocent. Even something as innocent as your landline phone can have terrible dangers in it.”
“Don’t ever be fooled and think that you are safe! The world outside is evil and harsh, and even a house phone is dangerous! Don’t let yourself be complacent. Yesterday we learned just how harmful even an innocent phone can be. So limit your time on the phone. Don’t play around with it, don’t experiment with numbers, use it only as utility and not as entertainment! Only call when you absolutely need to! Nothing is innocent, even if it seems to be!”
We all stared, speechless with shock and exasperation, as my principal once again completely missed the boat.