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“Yolo” is a popular acronym used these days as a take on “Carpe Diem,” or seize the day. It stands for “You Only Live Once.” It has implications of it being okay to make stupid mistakes because each and every one of us lives once, we think.
Life is short, we all know that, and we – well, most of us – want to live life to the utmost fullest, in turn getting everything we can out of life. After all, it is a wonderful, beautiful gift: Life. But we didn’t ask for it. As a matter of fact, it takes some people a lifetime to figure what it means to be alive.
“Yolo” may be a term used by the youngsters of today, as heard in songs by Adam Levine and Drake, but it carries meanings and implications that are universal and everlasting. The phrase is too often used by the hipsters of today in the United States to make excuses for their dumb mistakes. The phrase will never catch on and be used ubiquitously by the American people – or other nationalities, either – because it is cumbersome to say and even harder to care about and remember. To the ordinary person, it sounds like some frozen yogurt brand nobody wants to try, or some variation of the color yellow.
But the acronym has good intentions. “You Only Live Once” reminds one of a hopeful youth, of seeing and wanting the best in life, of seizing the day because tomorrow is not promised – nor is even the next moment. Nonetheless, the wrong people seem to be using the term. They are the slackers who don’t take blame for their impulsive, risky decisions, and then when the problems arise from the decisions, they blame it on “You Only Live Once.” But it’s just one more way to enable these kinds of behaviors where judgment is lacked. Also, the mentality attached to this word provides people more reasons not to blame themselves for when they make a monumental mistake. They blame it on “Life” and not their own erroneous decision. What does this create? A bunch of cultures which don’t hold themselves accountable for their actions.
So this “Yolo” mentality is not so cut and dry. It is good and bad. It is both a hindrance and an empowering philosophy, depending on the person using it and how they use it. But it is being used nonetheless. Most people want to get all they can out of life, and so, in this case, it is quite motivating. “Yolo” can be inspirational to those trying new things – who want to take calculated risks, meet new people, take exciting trips, etc. It can mean understanding what it means to be born to die – and in between, there are opportunities to make the most out of this crazy life. In between birth and death, there is of course suffering, problems, the death of others, bad people and bad experiences – but there is also love and hope and family and beauty.
Unfortunately, this “Yolo” philosophy does not seem to focus on the most optimistic aspects of life. It seems more that this philosophy only provides excuses for young rich kids to account for their immature, impulsive, selfish actions. The phrase will never be used by the masses like “Carpe Diem.” It is one more excuse for spoiled American kids to put off growing up and becoming responsible, productive adults. It is really quite a pathetic, irritating notion to people who don’t have the luxury of staying children their entire lives, putting off adulthood because it doesn’t suit them. “Yolo” is an irritating acronym, one that is not only confusing to most people but one that will just never catch on. Only the young hipsters will use it, and they are not “mainstream” anyway.