Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hospitality on the Decline?

This week I met with our rabbi Danny to talk about Shabbat Shalom Around Town, the yearly event I organize, whereby people in the Temple Micah congregation get together in each other’s homes for a Shabbat dinner. He made an interesting observation along the lines of the book Bowling Alone that people just aren’t entertaining in their homes as much as they used to.

If this is true, and I think it might be, I wonder if it is partially because social networking through things like email and Facebook is taking the place of face-to-face meetups to allow people to catch up with one other. We follow each other so easily and on our own schedules through electronic media that there is not the impetus to ask our friends and neighbors over. And it really minimizes the need to plan menus and go to the grocery store. There are no dishes to clean up and put away.

We threw around ideas about how to engage more of the congregation in this one night of dinner parties. We need to convince people that it can be fun to entertain strangers, who are potentially new friends; that hosting a dinner doesn’t have to be such a big deal if you keep it simple or make it potluck; that you can’t always be the guest. We need to convince new members to sign up even if they don’t know anyone yet. It is always a challenge.

What do you think? Are we withdrawing into the electronic world and giving less face time to friends and colleagues?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a word: yes! And also no. I think digital "social" media have many astounding attributes (like your blog!). Overall I favor intimate real-time life and the honest un-Facebooked/airbrushed reality and depth of experience only that can provide...home gatherings like your wonderful Shabbat dinners; musical hangs; bookstores; cafes; clubs; ...places where people gather spontaneously and naturally to mingle with others (other than just their digital "tribe") such as on a NYC bench or San Francisco sidewalk or Roman piazza or park trail. But "social" media are great ways for people to share ideas and info and plans. How a propos that Gil Scott Heron just passed (he of "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"). I wonder if he wrote about this...And now, I'm going to tidy up the house before some flesh-and-blood friends come over! :-) Thanks for the reminder to treasure that.


3:12 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I haven't entertained in my home as much in the past couple of years, but that's just because I'm never here. I spend massive amounts of time with my friends and family in face-to-face interactions. (Though, I do keep in touch with people I don't see as much through digital channels.)

Of course, I am a little odd.

9:07 PM  

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