PBS is good for a lot of things. Creating unreal expectations for what the world is like is one of my favorites. From having inquisitive puppet friends to being an incredibly good neighbor, PBS made sure that I never had to make reality my full time occupation. My favorite piece of edutainment, though, was Slim Goodbody. He was a man without parallel, a body suit that showed every organ and muscle.
And he was supposed to come to my elementary school. That is what they told me, at least. They put up posters and made a big deal about an assembly that was forthcoming. And as we filed in, I believed that all of my PBS learning fantasies were going to come true.
That was at least until they laid this wonderful little gem on us: we are our own Slim Goodbodies. They told us that we didn’t need to see the man himself because we were him. And that was good enough for some of the kids in my class, but definitely not for me. I kept asking even after the assembly was over when Slim Goodbody was going to grace us with his presence. The other kids thought I just didn’t get it. And maybe I didn’t.
I wanted him, not some version of him that required us to “believe” in his ideals enough to become him. And that is why I can’t handle the social networking concept that we can all be “liked” and we can all be “friends” and we can all be “fans.” I don’t believe that we should be putting all of our trust in the crowd. There is still value in the magic of PBS. There is still value in the purpose and the personality. And one person showing up can sometimes outweigh the millions that believe that they share something in common than that one person.
We cannot all be Slim Goodbody, online or in real life. And that is a good thing.