, Newburyport, MA


June 13, 2014

Some cheers, some jeers for recent newsmakers

CHEERS to our high school graduates. Local high schools are sending off the Class of 2014 with pomp and ceremony. We wish all our graduates the best as they pursue their college or working careers.

Graduation season is the time when the old and wise offer unsolicited advice to the young and restless. Here’s ours: Do what you love. The second part of that old saw is typically “... and the money will follow.” We’re realists enough to understand that some career paths offer more financial rewards than others. So if your passion is investment banking, go for it.

But if your true love is art, music or helping the homeless, follow that dream with the same gusto. In doing so, you may not be destined for fame and fortune. But at least, at age 50, you won’t wake up each day with a feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach. A lifetime of happiness and fulfillment beats one of regret and missed opportunity every time.

CHEERS to some sound advice in our hyper-connected age. At Andover High’s graduation Monday night, students joyfully snapped cellphone photos of themselves and their friends. But teacher Edward Parker sounded a counter-note. He urged students to consider their lives outside social media and the Internet.

“We are always connected,” Parker said. “But how meaningful are these connections?

“LOL, emojis and smiley faces are not replacements for meaningful conversations,” he said. “Don’t let this infatuation with technology define you.”

Parker urged students to put down their cellphones and tablets every now and then and enjoy life as it is happening in real time.

“Unplug,” Parker said. “Listen to each other.

“Nobody wants to see pictures of your food anyway,” he joked.

Parker has a point. We’ve seen people of all ages locked into their cellphone screens while all around them the rich pageantry of life passes them by. It’s one thing to send a text message or check email while engaged in some routine activity such as commuting on a train. But we commonly see people at significant events — such as Red Sox games — paying far more attention to their cellphones than happenings on the field. Moments of life are precious and can pass in a flash. Is it worth missing them to send an instantly forgettable note such as “LOL”, “OMG” or “Where U at?”

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