A couple of weeks ago, in response to a post I wrote about the benefits of Twitter, a friend suggested I listen to a lecture on the subject of friendship entitled: “You have a friend request: Saving Friendship from the 21st Century”. It was given at the Southborough l’Abri (that’s the Boston version of the place we went to for the film festival last autumn), by a friend of two friends, and is a jolly good listen. Yes, the file says it’s an hour and 52 minutes long, but only the first hour is the lecture, the rest is a (still fascinating) Q&A.

It comes back to the ongoing question of whether social networking helps or hinders good quality relationships – it just so happens that my two friends who know the speaker (whose dulcet southern tones are a pleasure to listen to) are part of a select band of friends who’ve disowned Facebook. I think my views on the subject have been fairly well expressed on this blog. Personally, I find social networking has massively enhanced many of my relationships and I wouldn’t be without them – but, they don’t replace good quality, face-to-face friendships. The lecture has a similar viewpoint, but is less enthusiastic about online friendships.

But it’s not that aspect of the talk that made me so enthusiastic to share it. It’s more to do with a quote from near the end of the lecture: “Hospitality is a fine art”

What Mary-Frances concludes by saying is commonsense. If we’re lonely, we should leave our computers and smart phones, and get out into the real world and make friends.

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