mostly wonderful thing!
Could put them in other safe, busy places for anyone—especially our many isolated seniors—to use. Airports. Doctors’ offices. Grocery stores.
Could tweak the principle so people from both sides of the conversation have a place to sit. The “lonely” side and the “here if you want to chat” side. If it’s ambiguous, the stigma evaporates.
Sure, there’s risk for abuse. Could print sensible reminders right on the bench. “Don’t hand out money or give strangers your credit card number.”
Related article on Hacker News
And the comments
We went to a parent tour at my wife’s old school (for our daughter) and they had a thing like this on the lower-grade playground. It does seem like a nice idra if handled properly.
It made me think about my own behavior. I’m very gregarious to the point of unprofessional with people I know and am comfortable with but am pretty anxious about meeting new people or interacting with people I think don’t care for me or aren’t interested in talking. I do wonder if that comes across as deliberately alienating to my new colleagues or ones I’m not as comfortable with, and whether I come off clique-y. A visual signal like this that people are down to interact would certainly open a door for me with a new person and break down that initial guessing game.
Maybe things have changed in the school yard since I was a kid, but if they had had these when I was a kid, I suspect that they would have been called “ostracize benches.” I don’t really remember them being places where it was safe to express any level of vulnerability.
The article goes into how the bench arrives at the end of an educational and awareness sequence. The kids are involved with it and part of the process. It sounded like most kids got onboard, probably a few shunned it, but overall a clear net plus. Heartwarming, really.