After School: Be Cool, Then Kick It

Dear Graduate:

On the most common graduation party question (when adults are around), we take your side. That question: Is it harder growing up today than in the old days?

The old days, depending who’s at the party, could be any time from 50 or 60 years ago up to the 1980s. No matter how far back, we think it’s harder today.

Of course, many will immediately disagree: They’ll tell you about walking (fill in the blank) miles to school. (Without cell phone.) About teachers that carried whuppin’ sticks and about family chores before school. (After, too.)

Great-grandpas remind you of dreaded diseases like polio and diphtheria that lurked and of bears peaking in the windows of one-room schoolhouses.

Well, it’s still harder for you today, we say, because it was all so much simpler then. Simpler then because there was less coming at you from up above, below and on all sides in truckloads of dots, bytes and digits.

It roars at you. More cable channels, phones, gadgets, stores and, perhaps loudest of all, the Internet. It’s all information, of one sort or another, chasing you all the time. But how do you sort through it all? What’s real? What’s illusion? What in all of this is good for you and can make you happy?

You’ve got a zillion more things coming at you, but your brain has the same size confusion filter as your great-grandmother’s.

Yep, we feel for you — for a few more weeks or, maybe, months. Because soon it will be time to look hard into the future and understand the meaning of all this information speeding around the world.

It means many things. But for you, the meaning is a new reality of non-stop competition not just from your classmates but also from people all over the world. People from Asia and Latin America with the same skills that you might be aiming for. People who make and sell all the things we used to make here in America.

(For instance: Our friend David needed a lamp for his computer table. Every one in every store he tried was made in China. He finally found a non-China lamp, flipped it upside down and read the sticker: Made in Mexico.)

But don’t despair. And don’t stop partying just yet. There’s plenty of space out there, cyber and otherwise, for people who comprehend the global challenge. There’s room to be successful if you are willing to work hard and to vow excellence.

It may be more confusing than in Uncle Ernie’s day. But there are even more tickets of happiness out there for the taking, and they’ll go to each and every one of you who sets a goal, grits your teeth and lets nothing get in your way.

Not even a bear.

| Issue 23 |

Volume VII Number 23
June 10-16, 1999
New Bay Times

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