Have you seen the article about the “Buddy Bench”? It’s the latest solution to playground alienation by elementary schools. Second-graders came up with the idea and teachers
placed them on playgrounds so that any child who feels “left out”can go to the bench. A child’s presence on the bench announces that they are looking for a playmate. The idea is that other kids will notice and invite them to join in their play. Shortly after reading the article, it struck me how much we, as adults, use social media as our “Buddy Bench”.
10 Ways the Buddy Bench is Like Social Media:
10. After a quick search, I’m easy to find. If a friend needs to tell me something or even invite me to play, they can spot me quickly .
9. They both offer hope. They promise that someone will notice me and give me the attention that I crave. How validating when someone’s notices!
8. If I’m not getting along with my “friends” I can delete them, head to the bench, and start over. On the buddy bench, you can’t tag me if I don’t want. I can decline your invitations and hide you from my sight. My rules, my settings.
7. I can be exposed to lots of different people. By announcing my availability to the whole playground, my list of possible playmates grows to an impressive number. More is better, right?
6. While sitting on the bench, I’m not expected to learn how to make myself more attractive. I don’t feel the need to go through the pain of changing my attitude or behaviors. If I find myself using the bench more than I should, the bench doesn’t require me to examine why. The ball is in their court and they can take me or leave me. It’s their loss if they leave. I just gotta be me and listen to my heart. Right PBS Kids? I’m not worried, the bench is always there for me.
5. Here, I can take a much needed break from life. It is nice to have a place to escape for a while. Here, it’s safe.
4. I can guilt people into being my friend. Sometimes, someone will inadvertently walk too closely to the bench. My friend-request has been ignored for a while and we both know it. This time, I catch her eye and she has no choice but to accept me. Works every time.
3. On the bench, I can observe people. It’s very entertaining and even a bit helpful, at times. But sometimes I forget that from my vantage point, what I see is not all that’s there.
2. Here, I don’t have to communicate. I can have a seat and ignore all of my friends’ conversations for as long as I want.
1. I can pretend it’s all about me. I have a seat and immediately, people have to notice. I’m in the middle of their feed, or playspace. I’m there, not inquiring about their lives or helping them solve their problems because I’m too busy asking to be “liked”. I’m in the center of the playground for a while and it feels like the center of the universe. And there is not much room for you…or Him.