IDF rank and file grapple with social media limits

January 30, 2013 - 10:29 AM by

iphone-4-facebookOne of the issues that the IDF has had to adapt to over the last few years is the ability of the soldiers to communicate with the outside world.

Back when I was in my rudimentary army service at the dawn of the 1990s, we recruits had to wait in line for most of our free hour at night for the one pay phone on the base – which only worked occasionally – for the chance to have a five-minute conversation with our family back home.

Today, almost every soldier arrives armed with a smart phone that connects them to the world. Of course, they can’t use them for most of their waking hours, but it can still get them in trouble. For example, consider this true story that took place last week on an army base in the South to a group of recruits two months into their basic training.

Even though they’ve completed the first phase of the very physical and grueling basic training, they are still treated as raw soldiers by their commanders, who evoke a strict policy of ‘distance’ – as discussed previously by Brian. The commanders keep to their role, never mixing any ‘normal’ behavior with their soldiers, despite the fact some of them are only six months older than the recruits.

It’s nearly 2 a.m. and the IDF rookies are having a tough time falling asleep in their metal bunkbeds, so their shooting the breeze. Through the window, one of them spied their commander – the MM – coming toward the building, so they all feign sleep.

The MM comes in, goes up to one of the soldiers – we’ll call him Motti – and whispers to him so as not to wake the other ‘sleeping’ soldiers – “Outside in five minutes in full uniform” – and then he leaves.

Motti gets up and his friends asks the apparently in trouble soldier as he’s getting dressed, “what did you do?

“I don’t know,” he answered, as he leaves the barracks and goes out into the cold Negev night.

The MM is waiting for him and calls Motti to attention. “Do you know why you’re out here?” he asks Motti.

“No sir,” Motti answers.

“Run around the field five time,” barks the MM.

Back in the barracks, Motti’s friends are watching the scene with a mixture of hilarity and incredibility. After Motti completes the task, which takes around five minutes, he’s back to standing at attention before the MM.

“Now, do you know why you’re here?” asks the MM.

“No sir,” answers Motti, which results in five rounds 20 push ups.
Motti’s friends, peering out the window, are practically falling on the floor.
“You still don’t know why you’re here?” asks the MM as he takes his cell phone out of his shirt pocket and places it on the ground in front of Motti’s face as he completes his push ups.

Motti looks at the screen and sees it’s on the MM’s Facebook page, pointing to the list of users who have requested to be his friend. Number one on the list is… none other than Motti.

“What is this?” the MM barks in an angry voice. “What makes you think that we in any way are friends? Are we friends?”

“No sir!” shouts Motti.

“Go back to bed,” says the MM , turning his heels and leaving.

When Motti enters the barracks, he’s greeted with cheers, laughter and back slapping. And every other soldier breathes a sigh of relief that he also didn’t make the inappropriate mistake of friending his commander on Facebook.

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