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'Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young', commonly known by the title 'Wear Sunscreen', is an essay written as a hypothetical commencement speech by columnist Mary Schmich, originally published in June 1997 in the Chicago Tribune. The essay, giving various pieces of advice on how to live a happier life and avoid common frustrations, spread massively via viral email, is often erroneously described as a commencement speech given by author Kurt Vonnegut at MIT. The essay became the basis for a successful spoken word song released in 1997 by Baz Luhrmann, 'Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)', also known as 'The Sunscreen Song'. The song reached number one in Ireland and the United Kingdom and inspired numerous parodies. Chicago Tribune column Mary Schmich's column 'Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young' was published in the Chicago Tribune on June 1, 1997. In the column's introduction Schmich presents the essay as the commencement speech she would give if she were asked to give one. In the speech she insistently recommends the wearing of sunscreen, and dispenses other advice and warnings which are intended to help people live a happier life and avoid common frustrations. She later explained that the inspiration came from seeing a young woman sunbathing, and hoping that she was wearing sunscreen, unlike what Schmich herself did at that age. The essay soon became the subject of an urban legend which claimed it was an MIT commencement speech given by author Kurt Vonnegut. In reality, MIT's commencement speaker in 1997 was Kofi Annan and Vonnegut had never been a commencement speaker there. Despite a follow-up article by Schmich on August 3, 1997, the story became so widespread that Vonnegut's lawyer began receiving requests to reprint the speech. Vonnegut commented that he would have been proud had the words been his. Schmich published a short gift book adaptation of the essay, Wear Sunscreen: A Primer for Real Life, in 1998.
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