Commencement 2017: Don’t Be A Shitbag

Need a last minute speaker for a high school, middle school, or kindergarten commencement ceremony? I can give you a great deal on a powerful, inspirational speech like this:

In a second we’re going to have a moment of silence and in that time I want you to figure out if you’re a shitbag.


If you are a shitbag, stop it. If you’re not, don’t become one. If you’re worried that you might be a shitbag, but don’t know for sure, ask someone.

But I’ll say that if you’re worried about being a shitbag now, you’re probably not a shitbag. At the very least, you’re climbing out of the gutter. It’s harder than it sounds, because in our current society, not only is being a shitbag easy, but often rewarded. People like to be on the winning team, so when they find someone who’ll do anything to win, they clap when they should be saying “who the fuck is this clown?”

So if being a shitbag is a celebrated road to success, why don’t you want to be one? I could try to sell you something about personal fulfillment or your eternal soul or something, but many a shitbag has found a way to contort their religious beliefs into absolution for pissing on the poor and disadvantaged. So let me appeal to your sense of self-preservation with this sliver of optimism: at some point a critical mass of people are going to realize that everything is bullshit.

When you’re on your way to the bowling alley or the Snapchat shop or wherever you are going after this, look around and think about how many human decisions surround you. The vehicle you’re riding in, the road you’re riding on, the phone you’re not supposed to be looking at, and the guardrail you have to hop because you have to pee right friggin’ now: those are all decisions. Hence, they are all bullshit. They only exist because we all agree that they should. If a critical mass of people decide where they’re going they don’t need roads, they can turn the half dead mall into a new thruway. The only reason your local JC Penney isn’t a demolition derby is because we’ve all decided JC Penney is doing it right.

For now. Affordable dress pants will only get you so far.

If there’s a grand truth to our society it’s that none of us know what the fuck we’re doing, but most of us are trying as hard as we can. Occasionally, we get it right. But when we don’t get it right, it’s not “just how it goes.” It’s not “the way it is” and you goddamn sure don’t have to “deal with it.” All these systems–the ones that keep food from the mouths of hungry children, medicine from the bodies of the poor sick, and homes from forgotten veterans were created by humans. They’re not fucking hurricanes or earthquakes. These are problems someone created and these are problems someone can solve.

Some of you will feel like that last paragraph is flowery nonsense, but that’s only because some shitbags managed to convince a lot of us that empathy is equal to weakness. You gotta look out for number one, right? So let’s talk about number one in cold, logical terms. Think about how much money is in your bank account right now. Do you think you earned it all through hard work? Now think about someone who has 25% more money than you, possibly someone in this room. Do you think they worked 25% harder to get it? Wake up 25% early? Some of them might’ve, I suppose. But maybe they had better opportunities than you did. Now think of the people with 25% less money than you have. They’re definitely not as industrious as you, right?

Stop being a fucking shitbag.

You do not have to accept the way things are just because that’s what the asshole before you did. Too many people are being forced to walk a difficult path while some motherfucker shouts “you’re building character!” at them, as if we’re just two fucking character XP away from everyone quitting their jobs and setting Donkey Kong scores full time. I suppose what I’m saying here is you should help out where you can, when you can. Teaching a man to fish won’t do a damn bit of good if he doesn’t live near the fucking water.

Sorry if this ran long.