Graduation season is upon us and that means that it is time to reflect back over the days of yesteryear as we prepare the graduating class of 2015 to move on into the future. And though I am tempted mightily to simply quote the lyrics to Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen,” I fear that the reference would be a bit too dated for today’s grads and I’m not certain if the WiFi networks in the area could sustain the surge in traffic that would come from all of you trying to watch the video on YouTube at the same time.
I wouldn’t want to be responsible for mass modem and router meltdown. That would not be very cool.
Instead, I’d like to just take a moment to ask you to put away the gadgets and smartphones. This class has been plugged in and connected most of their lives. Most of you cannot remember a world where the Internet was not A Thing or where “visiting social networking sites” meant going down to the local pubs. And that’s fine. The world before the Internet had its moments, sure, but the connected world is awesome. You can pick up a little gizmo that has more computing power than the Apollo 11 LCM. You can use it to order a pallet of steel from half a world away. Watch television, movies, read books, carry a library around in your pocket and access the collective knowledge of humanity.
However, it does come with its drawbacks. You’ll find your work bleeding into your personal life more and more. Privacy and quiet time are things of the past these days. And some of those stupid mistakes that you’ve made in your youth? They’ll follow you in a way that the exact same things never haunted your elders.
So, as you get ready to set out and venture into life and this hyper-connected world, stop and think for a moment. Before you do something, before you commit to something, before you call someone up at 2 am, ask yourself if the technology that allows you to do what you’re about to do has disabled your manners. Having the ability to call for help at 2 am when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere is great. Being able to call up a map and let the satellites guide you home when you’re lost is awesome. But calling your ex at 2 am to whine at them is not so cool. Using stalking apps to hound someone is the opposite of awesome.
These are things that the class of 2015 will have to consider that older classes never had to wonder about. So, hats off to you guys. Now, finish updating your Facebook statuses so we can hand out these diplomas!