One acronym alone has compelled countless teens, tweens, and 20-somethings to engage in unnecessarily risky behavior as of late in America: YOLO.
It stands for, “You only live once,” a reminder of human mortality that often encourages thoughtless action. This type of outlook on life is common, from the well-known Latin phrase, “Carpe diem,” meaning, “Seize the day,” to the expression, “Live every day like it’s your last.” These philosophies all serve as a push to make the most out of every moment you are alive. Though the philosophies are well-meaning, such motivation can very easily be twisted to justify self-destructive tendencies.
It can begin with bungee-jumping, a little push to try something scary and exciting, but quickly that justification can be switched to support binge drinking and illegal activities. Before you know it, you wake up in prison with a fresh tat of a butterfly somewhere questionable because you decided to join a very sketchy cult. All in the name of YOLO.
The idea has proliferated among our nation’s youth, and now stands at the threshold of an epidemic-level issue. Heavily popularized by the “Degrassi: The Next Generation” actor-turned-rapper Drake in his song “The Motto,” YOLO now has a solid presence on much of today’s social media. Especially featured on Twitter, the “#yolo” craze has a never-ending line of patrons more than willing to sacrifice their responsibility in its name. Tweets depicting YOLO-inspired behavior are rampant nowadays, and there has never been a more fashionable excuse for excessive drinking or disregard for the law.
But things should be different on a university campus full of learned and intelligent folks, right? Wrong.
Perhaps this is all natural, though. American ways of life have evolved over centuries, and this could very well be a next step. Many have been quick to point out every new generation’s failure to seize responsibility for themselves. This could be a culmination of a social revolution, eventually leading to the collapse of the current American culture. The 1960s and 1970s had their own counterculture, and perhaps YOLO is just the apparition of our own.
Let us imagine a world in which everyone embraces the YOLO philosophy. Everyone overindulges, no one works or takes care of responsibilities, and everyone engages in dangerous behavior. Essentially, anarchy would preside.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Solid advice, and it gets to the heart of what YOLO attempts to convey. Trying new and frightening things helps you discover more about the world, which is always a good thing. However, shirking responsibility is usually not so kosher. Next time you are convincing yourself to engage in reckless behavior, just think about it. The prospect of reducing your life philosophy to a four-letter acronym is quite dim.
Reach opinion writer Josh Waugh at email@example.com. Twitter: @Joshwaugh
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