won’t you be my neighbor?

Look for the helpers. Look for the kindness. 

There is a lot of awful happening in the world right now and it’s found its way into the city I love, my city of Toronto. I don’t need to rehash it all here. Just go to any news source and you will get an eyeful. Oh yes, what a rosy way to start off this blog post. There is a point for this and I will get to that point. Please allow me to go on for a moment.

In the last few weeks, I have been trying to find ways to remove myself from a certain ‘Social Media’ platform. When I first joined in 2007, it was a fun way to interact with people. People I knew in person, people with common interests, people from all over the world. We had a lot of fun interacting, sharing and experiencing. Then… the fun stopped. It actually stopped a few years ago. The platform went from being actually social to a newsfeed filled with animal torture videos, reposts of mean tweets, horrible news stories of what was happening around the world… people just being cruel to other people. It was no longer a place to keep in touch with friends on the other side of the planet, contact long-lost childhood friends or find fun events to attend. It just became this horrible, horrible place. A place I no longer wanted to be a part of because I don’t like how it is making me feel.  But I didn’t know how to escape.

I’m a writer, performer and I run a small side business. I use Social Media as a place to promote myself, my events, my business and to find like-minded people. I, let’s say, need it. Or… do I? Raise your hands if you remember how we promoted all of this stuff prior to 2007. Show of hands, please. Just one? Just the guy way in the back??? Oh boy. Are we in trouble here? Well… how we use to do it was through postering, placing events listings far and wide, handing out flyers at other events and word of mouth. It was a lot of work and ‘Social Media’ not only made it easier, but it gave us a further reach. I run Vintage Groups on Social Media and we have members from all over the world! ALL OVER THE WORLD PEOPLE! Could I have done that pre-2007? Could I? That is my major conundrum, how do I go back to pre-2007 and still have the same impact? How do I get away from all of the awful?

Many moons ago I stopped watching the news and reading newspapers. I would go to work in an ok mood and by the time I got to work I was depressed, angry or both. Why? I had started grabbing the ‘free’ paper they gave out at the subway. It took me a while to figure out why this was happening, why I was feeling this way and then one day when the paper landed in my hand, I had bells going off! It was the culprit! I also figured out that I am super sensitive to all of it, so I stopped. Social Media is now having the same effect on me. Well, at least one platform is, the one that shall not be named. On the other side of it, platforms such as Instagram are having the opposite effect. They are bolstering my creativity and helping me build my business and career. I love how you can customize who and what you can see. It’s my happy place. I need more happy places.

Oh… right… the point!

mrrogers2

Last night, my fella and I went to see Won’t You Be My Neighbor? It was a documentary about Mr. Rogers and an incredibly beautiful tribute to a man who taught us that we are special and that kindness is important. Kindness. Something I myself have been trying to pass along as an important message. Kindness. Something this world really needs right now. Humankind seems to be forgetting the lessons that Mr. Rogers taught us. We need to figure out how to change this.

Along with Mr. Rogers, I also grew up with other shows that taught us the same message, The Gentle Giant and Mr. Dress Up. We need more shows like this and not just for children.

As I watched this movie, I was continually reminded of how important these shows were to me as a child. How they taught me what was ok and not ok. How happy they made me feel. If Mr. Rogers, Mr. Dress Up or The Gentle Giant were with us today, they would be horrified by the state of the world right now. There is a scene in the movie that deals with 9-11 and seeing how sad, how upset Fred Rogers was, broke my heart. You could feel this happen collectively throughout the audience. This movie touched me, touched the audience. Most of the theatre was in tears by the end of it. So… here’s the thing. Can we start remembering what Mr. Rogers stood for? Can we stop being so cruel to each other? Can we be patient and compassionate? But most importantly, can we start being kinder to each other?

Thank you Mr. Rogers for reminding me of what kind of world I want to live in. Look for the helpers. Look for the kindness.

It’s Such a Good Feeling

Written by Fred Rogers | © 1970, Fred M. Rogers


It’s such a good feeling
To know you’re alive.
It’s such a happy feeling:
You’re growing inside.
And when you wake up ready to say,
“I think I’ll make a snappy new day.”
It’s such a good feeling,
A very good feeling,
The feeling you know
You’re alive.

It’s such a good feeling
To know you’re in tune.
It’s such a happy feeling
To find you’re in bloom.
And when you wake up ready to say
“I think I’ll make a snappy new day,”
It’s such a good feeling,
A very good feeling,
The feeling you know that we’re friends.

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