Congratulations, nothing has changed.

Wednesday May 25, 2011

Congratulations, nothing has changed.
A commencement speech to the Bernard Dailey University Class of 2011.

Congratulations on this day of your graduation. I would be smiling if I were you. Please check, and ensure that you are smiling.

I hope that you have enjoyed your college years. If you have not enjoyed your college years, you are in a kind of trouble. You may end up never enjoy anything, if you keep on going like that. Be careful. Enjoy things.

Some of you are going on to more college years. Graduate school, they call it. I anticipate those years will be good too. I really can't emphasize enough just how much fun school is, for students.

The astute listener, perhaps not going on to graduate school, and likewise the graduate of graduate school a few years hence, will note that all this enthusiasm about your past does not bode particularly well for your future. Well, well...

Do you have to go to college? Is it really necessary, in this modern world of blah blah blah? Well, I know my audience here today, so let's just say yes. Unequivocally yes, yes, yes. Good job.

I've already mentioned the prime reason that you have to go to college, which is that it is just so much darn fun. All the rich people go to college, don't they, and I am convinced a person with that kind of money is unlikely to do anything they really don't want to.

So good work! For the very reasonable price of eighteen thousand, four hundred and seventy-two dollars per term, you have spent four years in an absolutely fantastic amusement park, filled with chemistry labs and libraries and lecture halls and bars.

Some of you have managed to stay even more than four years, getting the same sort of degree that your over-eager peers clawed to in four. Five years! Six years! You are the really smart ones. Kudos.

There is another reason you have to go to college, which is this: Now, whenever anybody asks you where you went to college, you can honestly use the fine name of Bernard Dailey University, instead of mumbling something about independent study and life experiences and other such nonsense. And that answer, which you now have access to, makes you quite a lot more likely to receive the job being offered by that person asking the question, or to later sleep with that person, or both. And that is something. Welcome to the club!

So far I have built you up, telling you how smart you are, getting you smiling. Now here is the lesson for the day.

Did I learn it in college? No. I learned it after I graduated.

I learned it after I graduated, when I went out into the world and I expected to find adults out there.

Here is what I learned: there are no adults out there.


Maybe because I grew up around mostly intelligent, responsible people, I developed a typically childish idea of the world as divided into children and adults.

Some of you, because of the characteristics of your environment, have always known that everybody is a child.


My childish idea went like this: Some children are nasty and stupid and mean. Sure they are, but then they grow up and become adults, who can be relied upon to do the right thing - or at least to be reasonable.

But it doesn't happen. Nothing changes. If you go to work at a company, however big and respectable, do not expect that you will be working with adults. You will be working with children. And some of them will be good, which is nice for you, but some of them will be nasty and stupid and mean.

There is no metamorphosis of the human animal after which adulthood begins. We are surrounded by people that just kept getting older. Look at the person to your left. That person is twenty-two, probably. Can you believe, can you even fathom, that you are standing next to a person who was a twelve-year-old just ten years ago? Now that person can drive a truck!

Or could have, had they not gone and graduated college.

So what is the point? I don't know how I'm supposed to know. I'm just a kid!

As far as I can tell, we'd all be just as well off committing suicide. I've been told that Kool-Aid will do the trick, although I'm not sure how much of it you need to drink.

But also, I have a hard time convincing people of this suicide plan. As you can see, I haven't been able to convince myself.

And this experimental evidence gives me something which we may as well call hope. Nobody gives their child an ugly name on purpose, after all. So I hope you'll keep smiling. Why not? Today you get your official job and sex paper!

Now the sex I'll leave up to you, but as for the job... There are a lot of jobs out there that somebody is going to have to do. You can get money for these jobs. Money!

It's almost immoral not to do one of these essential, money-earning jobs. Irresponsible! There are companies doing important work, and that work has got to be done!

Listen kid. The whole economy will definitely collapse if everybody just follows their dreams. We need bodies at desks, and so on!

Listen kid. Screw everybody. You are not an adult, and you don't have to worry about waking up as one any given morning. There are no adults. I checked. If you follow politics at all then you already know what I'm talking about.

You've heard people tell you to do what you love. This is not new advice. If you try it, the worst that will happen is death, probably. Is that a risk you're willing to take?

Now is as good a time as any.

Congratulations. Nothing has changed.

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