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Mister Rogers’ “Look for the Helpers” Was Not Meant for Adults

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 30, 2018

In a piece for The Atlantic, Ian Bogost argues that Mister Rogers’ “look for the helpers” advice for tragic events was intended for preschoolers and that “turning the reassuring line for children into a meme for adults should make everyone uncomfortable”.

Once a television comfort for preschoolers, “Look for the helpers” has become a consolation meme for tragedy. That’s disturbing enough; it feels as though we are one step shy of a rack of drug-store mass-murder sympathy cards. Worse, Fred Rogers’s original message has been contorted and inflated into something it was never meant to be, for an audience it was never meant to serve, in a political era very different from where it began. Fred Rogers is a national treasure, but it’s time to stop offering this particular advice.

I touched on this briefly in a post a couple of weeks ago:

Fred Rogers often quoted his mother as saying, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” That message was directed at young children who he wanted to help feel secure. For us adults, Rogers might have encouraged us to exercise more moral courage and become those helpers, not just look for them. The world today could use more of that.

(via @davidzweig)