Thursday, 23 May 2013

Yolo

I despise that word. I actually hate how significant that word has become in today's culture. It stands for "You Only Live Once." What began as a simple excuse to do things that you might never have another chance to do has become a phenomenon that has actually changed people's world views.

Similar concepts have existed in history for hundreds of years, but the term was popularised by Canadian Rapper Drake in 2011. It soon became an internet phenomenon, especially on Twitter. People would tweet something like "Wasn't sure about going skydiving, but #yolo." It made sense, you only live once, so make the most of it and take the opportunity to skydive.


Eventually it became stupid. "This milk is off but #yolo." What? No! Drinking off milk is not something that should be on your bucket list, and the thought that you only get one chance to live your life does not mean you should jump at every opportunity to anything at all.

Then it became nonsensical. "My dog is really cute. #yolo." That doesn't even make sense. But sticking #yolo at the end of every phrase regardless of whether it made sense or not is not what bothers me. Little kids on the internet will always say stupid things that don't make sense and that's never going to change.

What bothers me is what came next. "I was gonna quit smoking but #yolo.", "Got totally wasted tonight. #yolo.", "Got in a fist fight at the station. #yolo." Those are paraphrases of actual tweets/Facebook posts from people I know. People who are now using "yolo" as an excuse to do stupid things.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for making the most of your life because you only get one chance, but "yolo" has become an excuse for people to do stupid things. It suggests to people that they should do whatever they want because you only live once, so make the most of it.

Unfortunately, too many people think that "making the most of it" correlates to hedonism. "You only live once, so take dangerous risks and do stupid things right?" Whatever happened to doing good things and changing the world because you only live once? That's what I call making the most of it.

The most notable example being a Tweet posted by aspiring rapper Ervin McKinness just prior to his death that described driving drunk at 120 mph (193 km/h): "Drunk af going 120 drifting corners #F***It YOLO."

On top of that, it suggests to people that they should do whatever they want regardless of consequences. "You Only Live Once" not only blatantly disregards the concept of eternal life, but allows people to ignore the consequences of their actions.

Because if you're going to be dead one day, why should you care about what happens then if you're no longer here?

It seems an extreme example, but #yolo is apparently an ultimatum that portrays a blissful life, no matter who or what you hurt along the way. Or that's what you might think when people choose to binge drink and do drugs just because they're going to die one day anyway.

If everyone lived their lives with no regard for their health, or the health of future generations, we could wipe out the human race within weeks.

I'll never ever suggest that someone does something because they only live once. Because if there's eternal life after Earth, and even if there isn't; the choices you make today will effect your life and the lives of the people around you forever.

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