The internet is talking a lot about Kenneth Bone today. He's this week's black and blue/white and gold dress — the lighthearted meme machine we need to help wash down the off-putting medicine that is American politics in 2016.
He's been called the hero our country needs but doesn't deserve. Some people are already planning Ken Bone Halloween costumes. He's going to be on Jimmy Kimmel Live. And yes, he's already suffering from intense backlash.
But even if you forget about politics and forget about that awesome red sweater, there's an important lesson that I think a lot of young American men should take away from last night's presidential debate:
Be like Ken Bone.
Now, obviously there's some hyperbole here. We know next to nothing about this guy, other than the fact that he's got a sweet mustache and cool glasses. Maybe his home life sucks or maybe he's a bad employee at work. Maybe, in the grand scheme of things, being like Ken Bone is actually a bad thing. (Update on October 14: Yep, surprise Bone isn't perfect. Also breaking: The earth is round.)
But Ken Bone knows who Ken Bone is, and that's incredibly important.
Do you know why he wore that rad red sweater on TV? It was his "plan B." Because he tore the seat of the pants he was initially going to wear.
"I had a really nice olive suit that I love a great deal, and that my mother would have been very proud to see me wearing on television," Bone said on CNN. "But apparently I've gained about 30 pounds, and when I went to get in my car the morning of the debate, I split the seat of my pants all the way open."
That's an embarrassing story. It's a story that a lot of people wouldn't tell their friends, much less a national audience on a major television news station. And it doesn't help (in certain circles) when your last name is "Bone." But Ken Bone tells the story with a smile on his face, knowing that hey, it happened. Might as well laugh about it.
"See, that's why people love you on the internet," said the CNN anchor. "Because you're freshly honest."
He told the same story on the radio. When asked if he was doing anything special to split the pants, the answer from Bone was no, "I'm just fat! That's the consequence of eating like an athlete and not training like one."
Here's why that matters: It shows that Ken Bone is confident. And that confidence has won him a spot — however brief — in the national spotlight.
Bone could have recoiled at the attention he's been getting. He could have been offended when the anchor on CNN laughed after he said he split is pants. He could assume that all of social media was mocking him for walking around with his disposable camera. He could have shied away from any and all cameras after he was compared to the antagonist of Toy Story 2.
But he didn't. He's just a dude who asked a practical question about energy needs and the important balance between environmental concerns and old-school energy jobs.
And people loved him for it.
You don't need to be a billionaire to get attention. You don't need to look like Zac Efron for people to listen to you. You don't even need a full head of hair.
You just need confidence. And maybe a bit of fashion sense.
Ken Bone may have gone into the debate undecided about who he'll vote for, but Ken Bone already knew that he was a cool dude that mattered. And that, as it turns out, is enough for most people.