Joe Biden Urges Cornell Graduates to Stop 'Living in Your Screens'

May 27, 2017

Former Vice President Joe Biden urged Cornell University graduates to resist the allure of technology during his commencement speech on Saturday.

Speaking a day ahead of the students' official graduation, Biden pleaded for more empathy among the younger generation as they prepare to enter the workforce.

“The people I’ve known who are successful and happy are the people who treat others with the same dignity that they demand for themselves,” Biden said. “To do that, you will have to fight the urge to build a self-referential, self-reinforcing and self-righteous echo chamber of yourself online.”

“I mean it, I mean it sincerely,” the former vice president added. “Living in your screens encourages shallow and antiseptic relationships that make it too easy to reduce the ‘other’ to stereotypes. They’re not flattened versions of humanity. They’re a whole person: Flawed, struggling to make the world better, just like you. To make it in the world, just like you.”

Biden also took aim at the current White House administration, though he refused to address President Donald Trump by name, akin to Hillary Clinton in her speech to Wellesley College graduates on Friday. He said that “build[ing] a wall” or “keeping Muslims out” would not make the American people happier or more economically stable.

Instead, he encouraged the students to support oppressed and struggling communities in order to heal the fractured divide caused by "both political parties."

“You may fundamentally disagree with them, but it’s hard to dislike them,” Biden said. “... It’s awful hard to reach a consensus, and you can’t govern this country without consensus. It’s the way we talk to one another, the way we talk toward one another, that really matters.”

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