“You know that you’re not going to be rejected once you get to the table”
We’ve all been there, awkwardly scanning a crowd of seemingly unpenetrable groups of friends, wondering where we fit in. While adults can busy themselves on phones and act unconcerned, high schoolers will often resign to sitting alone and getting made fun of, or worse, lugging their lunches to a bathroom stall.
Thanks to an entrepreneurial, tech-savvy 16-year-old, the painful awkwardness of school lunchrooms may soon be a thing of the past. “Sit With Us”, an ap by Natalie Hampton, is one that makes good on the universal bonding quality of sharing a meal.
The app’s slogan, “the first step to a warmer, more inclusive community begins with lunch,” says it all: It aims to unite students over food to decrease bullying and social isolation in schools. To join, users simply create a profile and search for lunches near them. Users designate themselves as “ambassadors” to host open lunches at their school—some even create clubs for people to join.
The use of cell phones is crucial, and not only because most high schoolers are glued to them these days anyway. “This way it’s very private,” Hampton told Audie Cornish on NPR. “And you know that you’re not going to be rejected once you get to the table.”
Hampton, a bullying victim herself, is just one of millions of students suffering the profound and lasting consequences, including anxiety, depression, lower academic performance, and even, in extreme cases, violent retaliation.
Though staring at a cellphone all through lunch isn’t recommended, this might be one instance where iPhones and social interactions prove to be a delicious combination.