College graduation weekends are memorable. For many, it's the last time you'll be able to roam free in your natural habitat with the friends you've accumulated there over the years. It's a mixed bag of emotions and marijuana all played to a looping soundtrack of SHOTS! by LMFAO. Everything about it is memorable, except the graduation ceremony itself. You're surrounded by hundreds of people you've never even seen on campus before, it's hot as hell and despite not attending Hogwarts, you're draped in over-sized, suffocating gowns and absurd square hats that double as billboards for sorority and fraternity letters. The speeches are always forgettable, and in some cases, sleep educing. Sans the uber-rare Steve Jobbs, Will Ferrell or Barack Obama performances, the odds are your speaker was some no-name alum, or an agenda pushing Congressmen with a hidden agenda to pimp (we'll get back to this later).
My girlfriend graduated college this past Saturday, and seeing that I graduated from the same college two years earlier, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. Each graduate receives four tickets to the commencement ceremony, which is fine if you're an orphan, but horrible for graduates with families that want to come share in the "once in a lifetime" moment. Luckily, four years ago my family recognized a flaw in the arena security, and for the fourth time in five years we were able to sneak in an additional ten guests through the back entrance, which legally must remain open as a safety precaution in case grandma suffers a heat stroke.
I found a string of seats together in the last row and set up shot with my sister and a couple of my girlfriend's cousins/siblings. The second everyone's ass hit the seat it immediately became a Temple Run orgy. No sooner did their knees form ninety degree angles did their thumbs start assaulting whatever touch screen they could get their sweaty fingers on. I too joined in on the small screen gaming but was interrupted by the twenty minute stand and clap session that took place while the class of 2012 and several dozen faculty flooded into the hockey arena. Afterwards, the school President took the stage.
About thirty minutes into the ceremony things took an uncomfortably dark turn. The student body president had redirected her speech and was now talking about a fellow classmate who had unfortunately passed away during their time together at school. It was a heartfelt speech, but it brought the already dulled group moral to a Holocaust-esq level. It was then that I decided to take to twitter to voice my discomfort. While writing the tweet "The speech just took a real dark turn", I came up with an idea that I would kill time/make myself laugh by adding to it the hashtag #LiveTweetingGraduation. And just like that, I had a way to occupy my time.
Things were looking up and the jokes were writing themselves. One seventy plus year old even announced on stage that "the future can dance without choosing a partner". Sooo deep. Deepak Chopra would be proud. Then the ceremony took another detour when U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer decided to drop in unannounced and interrupt diploma handout time to talk about some new bill he was working on. Since no one gave a shit about that, and in an attempt to come off as both likable and relatable, he closed with a story about how when he was graduating college, he had been awarded a scholarship that would allow him to travel around the entire world, all expenses paid (where can I sign up?). Only he had a girlfriend at the time who he didn't want to be without, so he declined the offer. Fast forward to the following fall where the girlfriend (predictably) dumped his ass.
In his defense, it is a good story (that is, if it actually happened). It's a humbling tale and I think the point he was trying to get at was to advise graduates to take as many chances as they can in the real world and not let good opportunities pass you by. The crowd seemed to be digging it, and I liked it too- the first time I heard it! See, this guy gave the same exact speech verbatim at my graduation back in 2010, and now here he was on the same stage back at it again. I don't know why the fact that he repeated himself pissed me off so much, but it did. Unoriginal douche.
Once Chucky boy hopped off the stage it was back to names on names on names. Roughly 600 to be (not so) exact. It was at this time that I decided to stretch my legs and pay a visit to my Dad, who was sitting alone in a chair behind me. Despite his best efforts, I didn't fall for his Stevie Wonder glasses mirage, and immediately noticed that he was out cold leaning up against the wall. I twitpic'd the shot to the right and wrote "Those sunglasses aren't fooling anyone. My dads out like a light (that's an expression, right?)
#livetweetinggraduation". Eventually I gave him a good British nanny shake and woke his ass up so I could have someone else to share my social commentary with.
When the names were finally done being called, I returned to my original seat, and was greeted by an eager Taylor (my girlfriend's 15 year old cousin). She then whispered in my ear and said "that guy over there (pictured at the top of the post) is reading your tweets." Now Taylor has been known to partake in the occasional Aesop's fable, so at first I was skeptical of her story. She had been following my #LiveTweetingGraduation stream and insisted that the man sitting in front of us was not only reading my tweets as they appeared, but he was also reading them to his entire family! I thought of ways to put this to the test, and settled on tweeting "Shout out to the dude in the green shirt sitting in front of me reading my tweets!!
#livetweetinggraduation". I sent those eighteen words into the twitterverse and waited.
And then sure enough, the man's eyes locked onto his phone screen with intense precision. He quickly glanced back, scanning our row in disbelief. He knew he had been caught and there was nothing he could do now. After a second or two I broke my previously straight face and began laughing. Relieved, the man dapped me up, and one by one his family began complementing me on my work that evening. I had provided entertainment to a family I had never met before, sitting a row in front of me, without uttering a single word to them. If there was ever a moment in my life that made me realize we're already living in the future, this was it.
When the ceremony finally came to conclusion I chatted up my new-found follower and asked how he had found my live tweet stream. He said that after one of the graduates chose Eli Manning as his person to honor, he had a feeling that someone in the building would tweet about it. Creepily enough, he was right, and thus my #LiveTweetingGraduation feed was discovered. It was one of the most bizarre, radical and unique life experiences I've ever had, and I can only imagine how Green Shirt man felt. I accomplished something I had previously thought impossible. I made graduation entertaining.
Thank you, twitter.
dan is the editor in chief of the 2 man weave