PILTDOWN MAN was the hoax of the century.
However, the famous Kurt Vonnegut MIT commencement speech, Wear Sunscreen, has to be right up there with the Top 10 Internet Hoaxes. Vonnegut is famous for his writing, especially: Slaughterhouse Five and Breakfast of Champions. Both were mandatory reading in the ‘70’s for members of the Boom Boom Generation.
Vonnegut, an icon and a hero, supposedly delivered the 1997 speech at MIT.
It was a shopping list of life’s lessons filled with glib advice and
pithy pointers on living well and coloring outside the lines:
- Do one thing every day that scares you.
- Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
- Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.
- Remember compliments you receive.
- Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
- Keep your old love letters.
- Throw away your old bank statements.
10. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.
Unlike many commencement speeches, the clever discourse both resonated and inspired. Myriad copies of the speech flew around the world via e-mail and bounced off one country and ricocheted back. In reality, the piece was written by a well known, highly respected, columnist by the name of Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune. For a long while, as the hoax simmered and sparked, Schmich received zero credit for her well constructed, witty, life’s lessons. Another life’s lesson: you can’t believe everything you read.
As you meander through a forest of on line dating profiles, remove your rose colored glasses. Learn the all important skill of reading between the lines. Remember the funny and fowl line: if it looks and quacks like a duck- he is not a prince in shining armor. Truth is divine. Dance like no one is watching.
Tell me about it. Have you been hoaxed or punk’d? firstname.lastname@example.org