The Role of Bingo in Building Communities
A Close Knit Society
I once attended a community meeting where a developer was suggesting that an old bingo hall be renovated and turned into a children's playground. The fallout was such that the meeting had to be abandoned. The parents of the young children wanted to have the indoor playground. The elder residents and their families were anxious that there were facilities for Bingo because it was a resource that could be used by both parents and elderly people. This is an example of the power of Bingo to bring communities together. As a social activity, Bingo provides a forum for people to make new acquaintances.
How Does It Bring People Together?
Bingo is played within community centers whether virtual or real. Some of the most isolated people in the world rely on Bingo to give them a measure of human warmth and discussion. I take the example of retirees who are often neglected by the youth and will spend months at a time without having ever talking to someone. If they can possibly be registered with a Bingo club, this will be an opportunity for them to make friends and will assist in breaking up their obvious isolation. The consequences of isolation can be profound for those who experience them.
It could be argued that now that you can play bingo online easily, Bingo has become commercialized to the extent that the original sense of community will be lost. Such a view does not take into account that people will often try to mimic their offline lives in the process of getting online. The chat rooms are a hub of activity and in fact you may find that shy people get the courage to write to others because they are hidden behind the anonymity that is typical of the internet.
Many communities will set up retirement establishments for their elderly neighbors. These could be state funded or they could arise out of private contributions. One of the challenges of those establishments is to provide a sufficiently enriching experience for their residents. There is a limit to the amount and type of activity that the older people can effectively participate in. Bingo is one of the activities that can go across ages. If young people really wanted to play Bingo, there is nothing to stop them.
For those people who earn a bit of extra cash through playing Bingo, the activity provides an avenue to deal with some of the less pleasant aspects of the global downturn. The use of Bingo in making this happen is not a formal arrangement but an organic one that grows out of the innovation of people who are able to make some little savings out of playing a game that they enjoy.
Far from being a nefarious activity, Bingo provides people across communities with a forum for engaging with one another while participating in an entertaining activity. It is also an activity that is capable of generating limited amounts of income which can go towards balancing the family budget.