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Message to 2018 Grads

Al Jones

I had the pleasure of attending the Senior’s Week celebration last week at the T&C. I know that’s a strange way of beginning a message to this year’s young graduates but let me explain as I awkwardly transition that statement to my message to you.

The one thing I instantly noticed is, out of these hundreds of folks, all gathered in one place, nobody had a cell phone out. Nobody was checking their latest status on social media. Nobody was taking selfies. Nobody was texting to anyone. So, what were they doing?

They were conversing with each other. They were talking, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. When they spoke to each other, they looked each other in the eye…not at a screen on a phone.  When the entertainment began, they sat back and actually enjoyed the performances. So, why am I telling you this?

Relationships. Up until now, unbeknownst to you, your circle of influence, those you socialize with, have been somewhat limited. When you were small, your friends were children of your parent’s friends. And as you worked your way through the education system, for the most part, the folks you socialized with were your classmates. You may have chosen your ‘Best Friend’ but it was from a limited pool of folks you happened to meet through circumstances not of your choosing. No doubt, there were ‘cliques’. Athletic kids hung out with athletic kids, scholars hung out with scholars, creative types hung out with creative types, etc.

That all changes for you young folks the moment you graduate. Some of those relationships will remain but, truth be told, the majority of them will fade over time as each of you venture off in differing directions, take on careers, and begin to raise families of your own. You may stay in contact via social media but that is not maintaining a relationship.

You may have several hundred friends online. Trust me, those are not all “real” friends. Don’t believe me? Try this little experiment. Post that you need help moving, particularly with large appliances and some awkward furniture.  I am willing to wager that out of hundreds of online friends you have, very few will even acknowledge that they’ve even seen your post. Only a few ‘real’ friends, folks you have a non-digital relationship with, will step up.

If you want real relationships, the best way is to experience the real world. When you go out on a date, or to dinner with friends or family, make a pact to leave those electronic devices in your car or at home where you won’t be tempted to stray from giving them your undivided attention.  Go out often, to community events, to sporting events… heck… even for a walk. You never know who you’ll bump into. You never know who you might meet that shares your interests, your passions, and your dreams. Join clubs, get involved, and above all, be constantly reaching out to others. You will find yourself growing as a person, expanding your interests, and enjoying the satisfaction of contributing in numerous genuine relationships.

Your parents may not subscribe to these things. It’s not their fault. To them, technology was a new conduit through which they grew. But in doing so, they have lost some of the opportunities for real relationships that generations before them enjoyed. Your generation has the ability and opportunity to have the best of both. Take advantage, as it is real relationships that will benefit you in the long run.

One last thing regarding relationships. This is probably the most important point of my entire message to you; up until now, your parents have had a responsibility to take care of you, educate you, and help you prepare for adulthood. Recognize, and never take for granted, that moving forward, anything they do for you has absolutely nothing to do with responsibility and everything to do with love.

Congratulations Class of 2018… now go take on the world!!!





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