Thursday, February 14, 2008

Internet friendships

Peter Leclaire, vp academic.
Our final lecture in the friendship series took place last night and it was a big success. Peter Leclaire, the VP Academic, came from the college to introduce Marko Hilgersom who is a very popular teacher at the college. He's receiving a NISOD Excellence in Learning Leadership Award this spring (I think learning leadership is some new way of saying 'teaching'). He teaches all sorts of culture/film/religion courses at the college and is developing a new course on narrative. And he's my neighbour.

Marko brought clickers along to allow him to poll the audience (about 50 people ranging in age from 15-70+) which was a lot of fun. For the first half of his talk he mostly polled us about our attitudes towards friendship, how many friends we had, what qualities we most valued in friendship... Then he introduced Aristotle's categories of friendship and related what we had identified to those. And then he talked about the qualities of friendships mediated solely by the internet and asked the question of whether these really counted as friendships. His answer was a qualified yes. He suggested the same qualities can be present in these relationships but they are easier to fake. And he suggested that ultimately true friendship required face to face meeting although we debated that in the discussion afterwards. My counter example was the friendship between Helen and Frank that is described in the book 84 Charing Cross Road - a true story of two people who become significant friends through letters but never meet.

It was a great evening and a really good way to end our series. Now we look forward to the fall when we will do another mini series, this one of religion and fiction.

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