Column: YOLO: You’re doing it wrong
Apr. 03, 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.