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Column: YOLO: You’re doing it wrong

April 3, 2012

The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.

The Internet is awesome.

Although this seems like an obvious statement, it’s not something to just gloss over.

It’s important to sit back every once and a while and look at how great we have it. Breaking news is available instantaneously. Porn is easier to find than ecstasy at a Skrillex concert, much to Rick Santorum’s dismay. Distances have become irrelevant, as you can see and hear a friend quicker than you can say “Skype.”

While all this is at our disposal, the generations before us not only had to sit in the dark waiting for day-old news but also had to use their imagination during their “alone time” and haggle with the operator just to talk to their "homie" across the country, if they even owned a phone.

Sadly, the Internet isn’t all sunshine and puppy tails. It’s also given a home to played out and misused abbreviations, the latest offender being “YOLO.”

If you’re not familiar, Drake popularized the abbreviation, which stands for “you only live once,” in his song, “The Motto.” Thanks to Drizzy, trend-chasing young adults are posting it at the end of their tweets or Facebook statuses that are either a. entirely ordinary or b. completely brainless.

“Just napped for two hours. YOLO.”

“I blacked out and woke up in jail. YOLO”

Here’s how I read those:

“You only live once, so I’m going to sleep it away.”

“You only live once, so I’ll make mistakes that might haunt me for the rest of my life.”

The point of “YOLO” isn’t to do a bunch of hood rat stuff and say, “fuck it.”

YOLO shouldn’t be a justification for ignorant behavior, but it’s used for that very reason. A bunch of pothead kids getting high and ditching class is already a problem in itself, so let’s give them a catchphrase to go along with it. That’s a great idea.

If we only live once, the importance of our decisions is heightened, not devalued. I don’t mean to sound like Buzz Killington, because there is definitely a time and place to go out, have fun and act wild. In fact, I quite enjoy those instances. I also realize, however, there are many more pertinent things happening in this world.

Look at the man who coined “YOLO.” He’s recording platinum albums, selling out concerts worldwide, winning awards, meeting his icons, appearing on magazine covers and voicing a character in “Ice Age 4.” To put it bluntly, he’s doing a hell of a lot more than most of us. So when he raps, “You only live once: that’s the motto n****, YOLO,” he can’t possibly be encouraging us to act like asses. He’s telling us to make something of ourselves.

The point of “YOLO” should be to go out and do something meaningful. That doesn’t mean everyone should hold themselves up in the library or go volunteer at the homeless shelter because, let’s face it, that would get boring. It just means that people should prioritize doing something with a lasting value. Go try a new hobby. Go to a foreign country. Go do anything with a longer shelf life than “I just beer-bonged three Four Lokos.”

“Taking surfing lessons. YOLO.”

“Just got back from a trip to Italy. YOLO.”

Those are appropriate things to do with only one life at your disposal. Even if most of us won’t become one of the biggest names in music, we can still do great things. We don’t have to be average.

The Baby Boomers and early Generation X didn’t grow up with the Internet, they invented it. Let’s not slap them in the face by using their gift to boast about our complacency.

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Article comments

April 3, 2012 at 8:49 a.m.

michael bayne: Great post,just what I was thinking also!

April 6, 2012 at 9:46 p.m.

mark: I echo your sentiments; however, your message is lost on the ones who are propagating it. I just spent the past week in Panama City Beach. YOLO is airbrushed on every 16 - 18 year old's clothing. As much as you want to fight it, YOLO is here to stay and it's Latin translation is Carpe Dumdum.

April 7, 2012 at 4:58 p.m.

Bo : Awesome column.

April 16, 2012 at 5:42 p.m.

maausi: Thanks for this! It should be spread on Twitter until all the offenders see it. ;)

April 19, 2012 at 5:33 a.m.

Hunter: Very true! Going out and having fun is one thing, but be halfway smart about it at least. I used to live in Panama City Beach, last month I went to visit. I have to say the phrase is for sure being used as an excuse for stupid behavior. On the other hand, there was another catch phrase last year, and the year before that, and they always have several interpretations and understandings. Crazy ass spring breakers don't even need an excuse to get stupid.

April 20, 2012 at 1:54 a.m.

filza: Yeah,

May 8, 2012 at 5:53 a.m.

Joe: This was the most egotistical article I've ever read, I bet this guy prides himself on his English degree that you can't do shit with, maybe if you did a real article you'd be more respected and potheads as you call them do not say yolo, drunks do. You sir do not do your research and that is probably why you are doing articles such as this, good luck with your mediocre life you fucking tard.

May 9, 2012 at 6:25 a.m.

matt: dude you sound like your 50, baby boomers and generation x also created wars, fucked up everything during the gfc and have solved little of the world problems we have faced in the last 50 years. kids who use YOLO are just saying a big FUCK YOU to old fucks like yourself which take everything so serious. we don't wanna be LIKE YOU

May 24, 2012 at 5:12 p.m.

Jazz: ^^ The potheads have been angered,

May 25, 2012 at 1:28 p.m.

Ian Servantes: Fight the system, Matt. You're such a rebel.

May 30, 2012 at 4:36 a.m.

Boe: What a lot of generation x-ers forget is that we had 'Seize the Day' in our younger days and it was equally abused by our generation... people jumping off bridges yelling 'carpe diem mofos!' and the like happened more often than we'd like to admit. We just didn't have facebook at the time to fully take advantage of our ability to make fools of ourselves.

June 19, 2012 at 2:58 a.m.

Kreepy: You Obviously Like Owls....ß-Þ

June 19, 2012 at 6:32 p.m.

adam: who cares? fags.

June 26, 2012 at 7:26 p.m.

thrrrrrp: u mad, matt?

June 27, 2012 at 4:05 a.m.

Michael: Matt and Joe please leave the Internet. There shouldn't be any place for you unintelligent fucktards to be on besides Facebook or other social network where other dumbass that thinks getting this article is wrong. Boring? We can very much have fun without alcohol nor weed. You guys are the losers who actually needs beer and drugs to have fun. YOLO my ass you guys are using that as an excuse to do stupid shit to look "cool" or have "swag". Now stop using YOLO wrong and consider being more mature

June 30, 2012 at 7:34 p.m.

Claire: Just overcame my shyness,YOLO.

July 5, 2012 at 9:13 a.m.

JOHN: Just read all these posts. YOLO

July 8, 2012 at 6:30 p.m.

Bill: Great article, except the part at the end about the Boomers and the internet. Fuck the Boomers.

July 16, 2012 at 6:14 a.m.

Todd: I just became familiar with this term from my twin daughters. In my day it was "Life's a bitch and then you die", In Jesus' day it was "Let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die". The acronym should be "Yodo", "You Only Die Once". You actually live twice. Understand the consequences that the former attitude leads to. God Bless.

July 16, 2012 at 3:16 p.m.

Christopher: Just red diz artiwcle n u gys hve nu swag eye have 9000 mounts of swaggerniss so ya i kno wayi moar den u bout yolo. swagging on dis fgt #YOLO!!!!1111111111eleveneleven111!11. If you ask me, that's how the Idiotic slang YOLO sounds. Ill be at my door with the bat of YOLO fags tearing it down, but could you fuckers put down your Disney 3D glasses with the logo marketed off and just fucking listen? YOLO DOSENT NEED TO BE USED LIKE THE GODDAMN WORD SWAG. I mean seriously, we already have on too many overused hashtags in twitter that makes no fucking clue, but now we have a new goddamn member to the club? -Facepalm- When the hell is the social fags are going to notice its utter bullshit that makes no sense? YOLO is said in a song, which apparently means to the world that we should use it every pointless time and be just fucking happy. Well guess what? The other adult (I'm 12 for all of you social fags writing a reply saying I'm a old fuck) side of the internet has some words for you, Shut the hell up, Please. Why? Because not the whole fucking internet wants to hear your bullshit, leading to articles like this. It's fine to ignore me, I could care less for you're future.

July 22, 2012 at 10:44 p.m.

victoria: well said. i was born in 1992... this is this most popular thing for people my age and younger. i hate it. i agree with you completey. 100%

July 24, 2012 at 1:51 a.m.

Nienna: Two words. Natural selection.

July 27, 2012 at 6:46 p.m.

Qbix: I just finished War and Peace, lost 50 lbs., and got a girl friend... YOLO

Aug. 20, 2012 at 8:39 p.m.

Bettie: This article is a piece of shit and a complete waste of time. What happened to good journalism? Isn't the University of Missouri supposed to be one of the best J-Schools in America? This is an embarrassment.

Oct. 23, 2012 at 2:01 p.m.

tom bradey: YOLO

March 6, 2013 at 8:22 p.m.

Kaelie: I laugh at the ones getting worked up and calling you 50, this is a student newspaper...

May 20, 2013 at 5:43 p.m.

Dr.Dookie: I just read this article. YOLO b--ches!

Nov. 20, 2013 at 6:44 p.m.

Matt's mistake finder (MMF): Dude, they say "YOLO" because you might die at any moment and you need to do the most exiting thing at the current moment.YOLO

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