This Saskatoon news report is making the rounds, about a school in Vancouver that set up a buddy bench. The first student interviewed explains it this way: “It’s where if you don’t – if you can’t find your best friends, and you don’t know where to go play, you sit on a buddy bench and someone will come find you and include you in their game.”
In this clip, the emphasis is on the momentary need for connection – a kid who just then can’t find his friends or isn’t otherwise engaged with a group and wants to be. In some of the other coverage I found of buddy bench implementation, the language leans more in the direction of “for kids who have trouble making friends.”
I can see the bench helping with either thing, but I think the framing matters. The former suggests that we all may need a boost from a buddy bench from time to time, and having it there takes the pressure off. The latter makes it sound as though while some of us know what we’re doing when it comes to social engagement, others are flawed and need remediation.
I’d bet that most adults, introverts and extraverts alike, would agree that the former is a more accurate assessment of human experience in the social realm.