The Death of YOLO

The Death of YOLO


I’m sure many of us would like to wipe this convenient little acronym off the face of the planet. It stands for the motto: You Only Live Once, a phrase that has been referred to as the “carpe diem” of the new generation.

This phrase has been following me around wherever I go: on twitter, on the radio, on the back of the car  in front of me…

YOLO written on the back of a car
Someone had a little too much time on their hands. Please note the bumper sticker at the bottom of the picture as well.

I generally just scoff at the phrase like everyone else. But spoken word poet, Jeff Bethke’s latest video (of which I’ve borrowed this blog’s title from) got me thinking about where this saying came from. I decided to do a little digging.

The acronym has been around since 2005, but it gained momentum after Canadian rapper Drake used it in one of his songs. It quickly became an internet meme, being spotted as a regular Twitter trend.

But critics soon rose to the occasions with parodies revealing why the meme was just so wrong. Anyone who has ever played a video game knows that you always have more than one life. What about Pacman? James Bond? Don’t cats have 9 lives?

Most noteworthy is the Anti-YOLO campaign by Buzz Feed featuring a picture of a woman holding a pregnancy tests with the tagline: ‘Nine months from now #YOLO just won’t be as cool as you thought it was.’

Something bugged me about this motto, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Besides the fact that young people were using it as an excuse to justify their less-than-intelligent behaviour. I came to realize, that the phrase isn’t true. At least not for anyone who believes in an afterlife. I won’t only live once. It’s a well-known secret that’s got traction around the world. And it comes with some wisdom that there’s much more to this life than just living it selfishly for ourselves.

 “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” John 12:24-25 MSG

And somehow I forgot that. You only live once on this earth to love others. How’s that for a catchphrase?

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