Kids These Days (or How Not To Be That Guy)

Sometimes I happen to be in the right place at the right time to hear just the right thing to share with the 10s of 10s who read my blog.  Yesterday was one of those days. Keene Middle School teacher Dominic DiBenedetto, with co-teacher Liza Mann, was one of the keynote speakers at the school’s Achievement (aka graduation) Day.  He and his shared some great advice on Not Being That Guy, With their permission, I’m sharing an abridged version of their remarks because…well, it’s good advice for all of us.

How not to be That Guy.

1.Don’t waste your time.

Don’t waste time thinking about negativity or the empty criticisms people say to you. Put the little time you have to use productively acting on what you believe in and know is true. Take advice that empowers you, and for goodness’ sake, let today be the last day you allow boredom make you boring.


Be kind always and to help others when you can.  No kindness is too small. Oftentimes, people miss an opportunity to be kind to someone because they feel like it’s not big enough. The most important gestures can be small: a smile, picking up a dropped item, a hug. Sometimes it can be as simple as standing up for those who are too tired and need a helping hand. These tiny actions are what people will remember.  If you spend your time thinking about how best to spread kindness, you’ll generate and experience the benefits of more positivity. That positivity will drive out any discontent you lock up, and you and everyone will feel true joy.


Sharing laughter with someone is a great way to make people and yourself feel good. Like when you show your real snorty, knee-bending, gasping for air laughter… or even a controlled chuckle and a knowing glance, inspired by an inside joke. Laughing together helps you see the world a little brighter and open yourself up to others. Like how right off the bat Mrs. Mann and I knew we were going to work well together because we both feel comfortable laughing at ourselves. Seek the humor in everyday life. And surround yourselves with people who make you laugh. Don’t take yourself too seriously. When you share laughter with others, you build a shared experience and trust, and those lead to strong collaboration.


The world is telling you to act your age, so do that.  Act YOUR age, not theirs.  After all, you shouldn’t have to act as though you’re 30, when your actual age is half that.  Responsibilities come with growing up, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t be silly or that you can’t have fun. Hold on to your youth, don’t be too serious about life, and more than anything, stay young at heart.

Spend your time exploring those things which positively add to your life. Find a cause, a hobby, or a subject to become passionate about. Some of you have found that passion while others are still searching, but regardless of where you stand, continue to work on it. You’ll never regret spending time on something that matters to you.

You aren’t the problem that people say you are and you should encourage yourself and your peers not to give in to the negativity that adults have and try to spread to you. Some adults write you off.

They use that dismissive phrase, “kids these days,”

But we know you raise your hearts for more love in this place –
They started the race and they try to outpace,
but you embrace even as they backspace,
and you will all amaze and liaise so nobody strays
from the finish line they’re secretly creating and discreetly updating
Their bar keeps rising and they keep criticising
but you’ll keep surprising and actualizing
Before they ever apologize.

You will keep enterprising, opening closed doorways,
ignoring imposed clichés because the way we appraise,
this generation’s success is unswayed, and it stays
All because of you, the kids these days.

You still have a lot to do! Although we complain to anyone who will listen, adults are right about one thing. There just is not a lot of time. Each day moves faster, and suddenly years start to feel more like mere months. The time to make good choices and be happy with yourself is now. Don’t wait for tomorrow to do what you can today.

 If you take what we said to heart, then you’re actively avoiding being that guy. Even if you lose a Snapstreak  Or forget to do your homework (but you should probably do your homework.)

Remember to fill your time with the things that matter to you.

And be the kindest person in the room as often as you can.

Laugh things off, and make sure to enjoy what you have.

And stay young while you’re young.

To see read full text of the poem (as well as other things written by Mr. D) check out his blog, Voices We Hear in the Hall.


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