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Back in the 1950s, Fred Rogers was a senior in college studying music. When he was home during break he experienced television for the first time in his life. He watched a children’s show where a bunch of clowns were throwing pies at each other’s faces. He thought to himself, “This could be a wonderful tool for education. Why is it being used this way?” He decided to go into television, postponing his start in seminary (which he eventually completed, becoming an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church). After working in various roles for about 10 years he started his own TV show, called Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. The show was on the air for 30-plus years and touched countless of lives. Few people from my generation didn’t grow up without the show, and nearly everyone who grew up with it was deeply affected by it.
Mr. Rogers died in 2003, several years before the advent of social media, so we don’t know what he’d think of it. It’s arguably worse than that first television show he saw. Rather than clowns throwing pies, it more often resembles primates throwing ****, or anarchists throwing molotov cocktails. But the principles that Mr. Rogers applied to his television show can apply to our engagement on social media. Just like Mr. Rogers, we don’t have to abandon this medium to the agents of destruction and distraction. We can reclaim small neighborhoods within it. The man who was everyone’s neighbor showed us such a task is possible:
Root - Everything - Learning - Relationships… - Love
“Love is at the root of everything, all learning, all relationships… love, or the lack of it.”
Our world is hurting. Depression and loneliness are on the rise, and social media seems to be making it worse even though social connections can help reduce depression. Something is missing from our interactions on...
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