It’s graduation season, which means thinkers, celebrities, minor celebrities, and in the case of my university, a “famous librarian” will be gathering in robes to address hundreds of bright-eyed, outgoing graduates. The best speeches will be collated and coo-ed over on the internet. Some of them might even become top 40 hits in England, where everything is weird. But it’s 2014: how helpful are popular sayings about fearlessness, inspiring words about believing in yourself, or Dr. Seuss quotes about embracing what makes you weird?
University graduates are entering one of the toughest job markets in history (There are literally no jobs available in history), and tuition prices are higher than ever. What could you possibly have to say to a bunch of surly Millennials sweating on folding chairs in the hot sun on a quad they used to smoke weed on, clothed in gowns blacker than their future prospects? Don’t worry, I got you.
Take a quick adderall before you give your speech.
This is how The Future of Tomorrow prepares for presentations and crams for exams. Get on their level. What, you’re too good for the Class of ’14? Pretend any twitches or involuntary movements are of tremors of inspiration.
Adjust your platitudes.
Have you been to the movies lately? People want it dark. The next film in the Batman franchise will be a long, low, existential growl over close-up shots of buildings collapsing. “Just do it” doesn’t work anymore. Consider alternatives like “Just do it (hang yourself),” “Be yourself, because no one cares,” or “Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you will float forever, lost in the blackness, til you starve in your suit.”
Hit ‘em with some fun, contemporary lingo so they know you’re #hip
Remember that professor who casually dropped an F-bomb on the first day of class so the kids would know FOR SURE that he was Shocking and Intense? A renegade, not like the other teachers. He was One of You.
That guy was perfect. He started perfect, and he remained perfect, from the casual references during lecture to what sounded like a medium active sex life (ladies), to the sunglasses he wore on top of his head while wandering campus, to his suggestion that “hey, maybe we should do class outside today,” he was tuned in to today’s youth. Channel this guy. Pop your collar. Then put on three more shirts and pop the collar of those too. Put sunglasses on your sunglasses. Mention that you know what hashtags are, then just drop a hard F bomb off the top.
Address your optimism to those it might still benefit.
“Arts majors, humanities students, prospective teachers: plug your ears. Engineering students, business dicks, and people with rich parents, listen up: Marie Curie once said…”
Get some statistics in there.
The fact is, real employment statistics right now are not going to make for a particularly rousing speech. Instead of “youth unemployment in Canada is at almost 15%, a record high” consider “15% of you will go on to consider exciting new uses of your time, including used underwear entrepreneurship, hamburger management, or achieving record highs.” Failing this, why not drop in a statistic involving the number 69? Everyone agrees, it’s a fun number.
Leave the auditorium and take everyone out for lunch.
They’re in so much debt, man. They need this.