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How you shape your employment future, and your family future is important, but so is how you shape society's future

{filler:graphics-our-opinion.jpg}Congratulations to the Crook County High School Class of 2022! You did it! You successfully completed 12 grades of academics, navigated a sometimes complex and challenging social landscape that included hundreds of your peers and came out the other side with a certificate of completion that you will hopefully cherish for years to come.

Go ahead, let those shoulders that bared the weight of your academic and financial future relax. Let out that sigh of relief that you waited so long to exhale. This is your moment. Cherish it…because the next steps await.

You have probably heard all the cliches — "the children are our future," "you are the leaders of tomorrow," "you will shape the world." Maybe they have inspired you. Perhaps they inspired you to roll your eyes instead. Regardless, they are cliches for a reason. People have uttered these sentences for decades because they carry a lot of truth.

But they carry a different sort of truth in this modern society of ours. Yes, they still apply when it comes to taking what you learned in school and applying it in the workforce, supporting a family, leading a community and so on. That hasn't changed.

But you graduates and the graduates who will follow you have a new and unique responsibility. You are leaving high school and entering a society that is more digitally enhanced than ever before. The ability to communicate is at an all-time high, thanks to the Internet, social media platforms and other virtual meeting technology that rose to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Get ready for another cliché — with great power comes great responsibility. Ask many adults and they will tell you that the influx of information, the rise of social media access has helped spawn a divisive society where people feel emboldened to dismiss or disparage people whose views, lifestyles or appearances differ from their own. Yes, we are more connected than ever, but that comes with a dark side. People use that increased connection to hurt others, to divide people.

But as graduates, you will have the special opportunity to step into this society, this world and decide where we go from here.

Interesting, isn't it, that many of the social media platforms are based on followers. How many Twitter followers do you have? How many people are following you on Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, etc.

It should be more important how you lead. What kind of example will you set for others? What approach will you take as you tackle important issues and important moments? Will you bring people together and accomplish good things for people who will benefit from your special talents — from your education?

Keep this in mind as you join your fellow graduates, the next generation of leaders and society shapers. How you shape your employment future, and your family future is important, but so is how you shape society's future. Take that power of enhanced communication and change it for the better.

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