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You're Not Special

David McCullough Jr. recently told graduates that they are not special.  His speech is reprinted here.

And you know, objectively speaking, the speech is not that awful.  Basically this guy is telling the graduates that they are not all that and a bag of chips.  Plenty of other people are graduating from great schools.  Plenty of other people have achieved what you have and so much more.  Get over yourselves and do something kind for others because the way we are measuring achievement individually is not really what we want to see reflected in society at large.

I think he's rude to say these things during what should be a joyous event for these young men and women, though. 

Only imagine if I went to some guy's fancy birthday party and were asked to give a speech about the honouree in front of his entire family and all his friends.

"Franco is a really great guy," I'd say, "but he isn't special."

"There are six billion other people on this planet, and millions of other people have a birthday on this very day.  My advice to Franco would be to direct the rest of his life toward serving others and consider moving to Guatemala to open a hospital.  I mean, his being average and all means there are at least three billion people just as nice as he is, but here we're all sitting around and eating cake and exchanging Hallmark cards at $5 each as though he really accomplished something besides getting another year older."

And then... imagine I published my speech in the Boston Herald and got accolades for it.  You see my point, right?

Sorry.  I can't say his message is wrong, exactly, but it seems very out of place. Graduation is to be a celebration honouring graduates, most of whom have just spent 13 years in the system.  Let them feel special for a few hours.  Good grief.


  1. I understand him wanting to make them feel like they aren't entitled and they still need to keep reaching and working, but dang, he sure did use poor taste in how he got that message across. :(

    1. Tell me about it. And what is up with his wedding comments? Did he have a bad first marriage or something? And given his attitude toward chicks, is it any wonder? :/

  2. And the irony is, it takes a special kind of narcissist to deliver a speech like that, then publish it for all to see. He clearly thinks he's special. ... but he's not. He said so himself.

    1. His daddy is the famous author so he might be dealing with some issues there, yk?

  3. have you seen the rash of "don't be proud of your kids"
    mom arrested at graduation for "whooping" too loud when her child got his diploma
    4 families removed from a graduation for cheering too long
    it's endless nonsense

    I do get the speech, especially in these days of everyone feeling so entitled and I suppose he chose a graduation since it's supposed to be the last of being a child and a sending off into adulthood

    1. Oh yeah I've seen the entitlement attitude; I used to go to school in Chappaqua, remember? We had it just a little. :)

      But I've sat near the graduation screamers and I'm thinking something has to be done and "please be quiet" isn't cutting it for these people. It's not like when you or I graduated; people are bringing HORNS and stuff in now. It might just take extreme measures to get some people to shut up. One commenter I read said the whooping is inversely proportional to actual academic achievement. Which... I've seen the summa summa summa mega cum laude type folks and their parents do NOT whoop and holler. They just don't.

  4. Great points, Mrs. C. Granted, when I graduated high school, I was less than impressed with that accomplishment. "Beating the system" was hardly an achievement I thought worthy of that much pomp and ceremony sitting in the hot sun.

    But, you know what? I am special. Perhaps not to the 7 billion other people on this planet. But being a narcissist myself, I don't really care what the great "unwashed masses" think of me [smile].



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