Only living once turning into a popluar fad poor choices


By Troy Doetch

Just as a suburban white girl says her iPhone case is “ghetto,” as your dad calls your friends “dawgz,” so did I start using the acronym YOLO, ironically, with the intention of being cute. But things got a little out of hand.

YOLO, I guess.

As if you don’t know, YOLO, shorthand for “you only live once,” is a twitter hashtag popularized by the Drake song “The Motto,” in which the former paraplegic Degrassi star takes a break from smoking, drinking and lovemaking in Miami to wax philosophic.

“You only live once, that’s the motto, n**** YOLO,” Drake sings on the track, which peaked at the 14 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in April. Amidst the song’s ascension, The Washington Post Lifestyle section declared a nationwide “state of YOLO,” which I think translates to yellow on the Homeland Security Advisory System.

Much like it’s long-form predecessor, YOLO means, “Don’t let the fear of consequences stop you from taking risks.” However, as a platitude of its own, the acronym has come to mean something more insidious, connoting, “Don’t even consider consequences before or after taking a risk.” Simply put, YOLO is a crowded kitchen chanting chug.

It’s a phrase that seems at home tattooed on Zac Efron’s right hand, the philosophy that possibly inspired Charlie St. Cloud. It’s a hashtag for an unapologetic drunken tweet; for example, “Drinking tequila. Just set my neighbor’s Welsh Corgi on fire #YOLO.”

YOLO seems out of place when thrown into casual conversation by a khakis-wearing 5-foot-9 senior English major with the alcohol tolerance of a freshman girl. Yet I say it like it’s my job, and I’m not always being facetious. While the majority of the scholarship devoted to YOLO hates on the stupidity of the phrase, I believe it has more depth than we allow because YOLO acts as its own antithesis.

The prima facie YOLO acknowledges our impending mortality, urging us to say “yes” to new experiences and opportunities. This is the YOLO that slips out of my lips when I’m taking orders at Starbucks and a customer is too nervous to stray from their usual five-pump, no water, extra hot, chai tea latte. YOLO, try a Frappuccino.

Conversely, when told to view our lives as a collective work of choices, we, as perfectionists, are reticent to take any risks at all. This YOLO is why Justin Duncan, local tattoo artist at Proton Tattoo, 120 S. Fourth St., said he would give honest advice to anyone looking to get the phrase tattooed.

“If you only live once, shouldn’t you be more careful in your actions?” Duncan said.

This dichotomy makes YOLO at once incredibly silly and extremely poignant. A few weeks ago, I drove a friend to O’Hare. She was leaving the country for the first time and, as I rolled her bags through the parking garage, she confessed that she was nervous. I said the only thing that seemed appropriate: YOLO.