First of all, most people did not remain standing for the processional of graduates. Some never stood. But most only stood until they saw their graduate pass by. Is this graduation only about their own son or daughter?
Secondly, many people talked aloud during the ceremony as the president of the college or someone else was speaking. There was always this low to medium level hum. Maybe, a better sound system would have helped; it is harder to pay attention when you don't understand what is being said. But the people talking made it hard to hear what was clear. My graduating son didn't really hear the hum like we did. He was up front.
Thirdly, many graduates and their families left once they received their diploma, or should I say, diploma cover. They had to go elsewhere to get the diploma. This may have helped in traffic congestion, but it shouts to the school and to the other graduates, "I am the only one important. You are nothing." In fact, that attitude prevailed throughout this graduation ceremony.
Graduation seems to be going the way of funerals and weddings. These are ceremonies that mark transitions in life. Yet, they are occurring less and less and being respected less and less. (Only a third of the graduates attended.) But in the case of graduation, one should participate for:
it marks the closing of one chapter and a beginning of a new one
it expresses comradery with your fellow students
it shows gratitude and school spirit to the school
it brings the school faculty, administrators, and alumni together to celebrate their goal- sending individuals out into the world prepared for life in their specific field
it gives a person a sense of identity with the school, with the other graduates, and with oneself
In a culture of "selfies" should I have expected anything else than what I observed? I do wonder what it would be like to attend a graduation from a four year college or even a place like Harvard. Does a community college have a greater challenge in school spirit and celebration than other colleges? Or, has our culture changed so much we just can't show respect anymore?