Thanks to COVID-19, many graduating high school and college students might not get a commencement ceremony. However, I anticipated this and have this year’s commencement address already planned out!
To the Class of 2020,
Well, this is a little embarrassing.
We all expected there to be a bit more formality and structure in a commencement ceremony, but with things being what they are this year, we had to improvise. Fortunately, your school/college/university/junior college/barber college/clown college, etc., had the foresight to hire me to send you off into the next stages of your lives. That, and I work cheap and begged a lot.
Regardless of how I came to be before you in one fashion or another, my purpose is to inspire you to great heights with profound truths wrapped up in entertaining stories so you can enjoy these last few moments before you’re expected to know what to do with your lives. And once upon a time I would have given you such a speech, but in truth, I don’t know what I can say to inspire you to greatness. Heck, I’m not even sure what greatness is anymore, given there are people out there who get tons of money just by posting stupid stuff on YouTube. Granted, some of it is pretty entertaining, but after a while even the stupid stuff gets…well, stupid.
Yes, I am going somewhere with this, so buckle up.
As with any Internet fad, there are going to be imitators, and that means people looking to be or continue to be relevant will take another step beyond. You may be famous for eating five grilled cheese sandwiches in under a minute, but someone will either try to eat six in the same time frame or add some new twist to the challenge, like, say…adding rat poison to the sandwiches. And there will be people who will imitate this, even though it’s highly dangerous and utterly stupid.
If you doubt me, I have three words for you: Tide Pod Challenge.
The thing about stupidity is it grows exponentially and leaves a lot of pain in its wake, mainly in the form of headaches people like me have to endure. Whether it’s driving the wrong way down a parking lot aisle, paying more attention to a cell phone than to the people walking around us, or electing politicians who believe we need to arrest people exercising their First Amendment rights to protest a Governor’s decision, a lack of thought can create an abundance of problems for people we may not even know.
Remember the kids who defied social distancing requests on Spring Break? They didn’t care about catching COVID-19; they wanted to get a tan, a buzz, and possibly a communicable disease or two aside from COVID-19. Sure, they’re young and they need some time off from their studies to relax. And, of course, their concerns stopped at the end of their…noses. Not only is COVID-19 transmitted through the air (and I’m going to guess a lot of those spring breakers flew to Florida), you can carry it without having any symptoms. And let’s not overlook the people in the wet markets who thought eating a bat sammich was a good idea. Even if they are chicken of the cave. (Yes, that was an “Anchorman 2” reference because I’m hip and stuff.)
See what I mean about stupidity growing exponentially? You have a shortened school year and a lack of a commencement because people are stupid. So, how do we fix it?
Don’t be stupid.
We are drowning in information and yet thirsting for knowledge, or in some cases, sentience. If this trend continues, the meek will inherit the earth by default since the rest of humanity will be extinct either by offing themselves with the latest dumb stunt, being killed by other dumb people doing dumb stuff, or through blunt head trauma from beating our heads against the wall as we ponder the latest dumb stunt and why so many people are copying it. In other words, we’re dangerously close to having the movie “Idiocracy” become a historical documentary.
This is where you come in. You have been raised around technology, including the Internet, for most if not all of your lives. Lord Acton once said, “Knowledge is power,” so I’m asking you to be the knowledge version of the Avengers. I would ask you to be the Justice League, but their movie didn’t do that well at the box office. You were born to be the scribes of the Information Age, to be able to sift through the data and find the truth.
Or you could play Skyrim. You know, whichever.
Seriously, though, my time on this earth is growing short, but yours is just starting, unless you do stupid stuff and get yourself killed. And that’s the key. Stupid, just like knowledge, is a choice. All I ask is you choose wisely. Unfortunately, I can only give you one piece of advice on that front: question everything you know on a regular basis. The truth will always stand up to scrutiny while the stupid will fall away. Even if it’s something you’ve believed all your life, let it go. Fortunately for you, I’ll save you having to hear me sing that song from “Frozen.”
But I will leave you with the responsibility to figure out the fact from the fake, the smart from the stupid, and the butter from the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Trust me, that last one is going to be tricky.
Congratulations Class of 2020!