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Virtual Graduation and Staying in Touch Amid the Weirdness of 2020

Article posted on 5/14/2020


Image credit: TechCrunch

A few weeks ago, my dad and I had a conversation about how, if we have to weather a pandemic, we’re sure glad it’s happening in 2020.

Don’t get me wrong - obviously, we wish we weren’t living through this craziness at all, but to deal with it now versus in, say, 1990? We’re all way better equipped in certain areas. For one thing, the internet has come a long way since its dial-up days and is commonplace in most homes and businesses, so staying connected through technology is very possible. Online board gaming certainly has saved my sanity (what little I have left of it anyway) these last two months.

One of the things that crosses my mind frequently is how difficult this must be for our youth, too. Sure, most of them don’t have the same worries as we adults do - things like bills, mortgages, food on the table, and so on - but it’s still a really tough world for them to navigate, even with supportive families. I know a lot of high school seniors who are really disappointed that they’ll be missing their “big year” - the parties, the farewells, the excitement of what comes next. We can promise them all we like that the years get better, that there’s much more to life past high school, and while that may be true that isn’t what they want - or need! - to hear right now.

Some schools are hosting virtual graduations for their students in an effort to celebrate their accomplishments in the best way they can right now, which is pretty great. Facebook/Instagram has recently jumped on that trend as well, announcing earlier this week that they would be launching #graduation2020, a series of online events meant to celebrate this year’s seniors.

In addition to all of the Instagram filters and hashtags debuting this week, Facebook is pulling some major celebrities into the mix for a big commencement celebration on Friday, May 15th at 2:00pm ET. According to the statement on their website, the commencement address “will be given by Oprah Winfrey. Awkwafina, Jennifer Garner, Lil Nas X, Simone Biles, and more, will share words of wisdom for the class of 2020. Miley Cyrus will do a special performance of her hit song, “The Climb.”” 

It’s not a replacement for a real graduation, and it isn’t going to offer seniors a sense of accomplishment or let them feel the swell of pride as their family watches them take a big step out of youth toward adulthood. Nothing can replace that, but it is still nice to see areas of the Internet rally around these kids and try to give them a little offering of joy.

They’re certainly going to have one heck of a story to tell to their own children someday, that's for sure. Do you have a graduating senior in your life this year? What are you doing to celebrate?