Thoughts on Mister Rogers

“I think children can spot a phony a mile away,” says Fred Rogers, probably the most non-phony guy on TV, the star of the show many of us watched not-so long ago: “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Okay, so you probably don’t watch it anymore, but that show was top-notch. Mister Rogers knew we could spot a fake, so he was just himself. And because he was real, we listened. That’s a lesson we could all learn. We posted a story today on about Mister Rogers, and it was quite the nostalgic trip for me. The best part about the article is the audio clips in the sidebar. Mister Rogers has to be slowest talking man alive. Check it out. No seriously, check it out. You should also visit Mister Rogers’ Web site. You can watch the cool “Picture Picture” video where they show you how to make crayons.

We also posted this off-beat, sketch comedy video on today, by a comedy troupe known as HappyFunTime. The video has this odd, slapstick appeal and I just think it’s funny. You should check it out, too. (it stars the legendary Blaine Howard from the band Trace.)

And just in case you think I’m only plugging my job, I do have some deeper thoughts as well.

Why are we so influenced by what other people think? Personally I don’t think I’m a big time victim of this any more, but when I was in high school it used to matter to me a lot more. It didn’t affect me as much as some people — I would sit at my desk quietly and not change based on what other people thought. But it still bothered me. It drove a lot of what I did and how I acted or didn’t act, the simple thought of what other people thought of me. Am I cool? Am I accepted? I spent so much time worrying about how I looked or if I was making a fool of myself that I probably looked like that much more of an idiot.

Our entire society seems to be focused on impressing others and the value of others’ opinions of you. Whatever happened to your own opinion of yourself? Can’t I just be liked for being me? You go through the grocery check out line and there’s all these magazine headlines telling you how to be someone else, telling you how to impress someone else, telling you how to be cool.

Since graduating college and entering the real world I’ve shed a lot of those insecurities. I’m not quite sure how I did it, but I don’t care as much anymore what other people think. If my hair’s messed up or is not the latest style (it’s not), I’m not that concerned. Sometimes I wish I could have had this attitude in high school. I would be scared to do the smallest thing, like stand outside a classroom or ask a question because I was afraid I’d look like a dork. And it had a much bigger impact on my relationships with my classmates. Starting a conversation with someone I didn’t know very well was totally out of the question. They were too cool for me, or too stuck up or too whatever. I would slip inside my own little shell and watch the world go on around me. What a waste.

Why can’t we just accept one another for who we are, the way we are? You don’t need to impress me. Geez, as Mister Rogers says, you’re special just because you’re you. And that’s not ‘special’ in any kind of diminutive sense. You’re cool because you’re you, period.

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