YOLO \ yoh-low \ , phrase;
meaning: You Only Live Once
While it is true that you only have one life on this earth, actions you take have lasting consequence.
YOLO should mean “make it count,” not “I only have one life, so I get to do whatever I want.” Often we see people doing ridiculous things, and then justifying their actions later with YOLO. This student threw his sandwich across the classroom (1). Others have tweeted about more dangerous actions, such as “Switching seats while the car is goin 100+ #YOLO” (2)
YOLO is used as license – as justification to do dangerous, reckless things. The fact that we only live once should cause us to evaluate life, and make sure our actions are worthwhile – not to adopt a devil-may-care attitude.
Robyn Dexter (editor, Illinois University newspaper), (3) “There’s nothing wrong with taking risks in life and trying new things. I’m totally for that. But there’s a fine line between living your life to the fullest and making spur-of-the-moment, completely irrational decisions.”
When applied as a justification for brash decisions, and an excuse for their consequences, YOLO does nothing but harm. This seemingly innocuous phrase puts people in danger, and creates hazards for those around them.
I find the phrase “Carpe Diem” to be a more positive version of YOLO. While YOLO tends to embody an attitude of teen-defiance, Carpe Diem captures the noble ideal of making life count.
Drake writes in “The Motto” (4): “You only live once: that’s the motto ***** YOLO / We bout it every day, every day, every day / Like we sittin’ on the bench, ***** we don’t really play / Every day, every day, **** what anybody say.”
The character of John Keating (Robin Williams) explained in the “Dead Poets Society” (5): “Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”
The original reference to “Carpe Diem” was a Latin poem by Horace (6) which stated, “Whether Jupiter has allotted to you many more winters or this final one which even now wears out the Tyrrhenian sea on the rocks placed opposite – be wise, strain the wine, and scale back your long hopes to a short period. While we speak, envious time will have already fled. Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future.”
Again in the words of Robyn Dexter, ““YOLO” has become an excuse to do stupid things. … What if we were to turn the “YOLO” concept around and actually take it seriously? How about this: “Decided to study abroad in Africa in the fall because I realized my life is too sheltered, and I want to be a more well-rounded person. #YOLO” No way could I judge someone if they said that. But if you’re telling me you’re getting high before class and “YOLO” is your excuse, I have no pity for you. … Like I said, we’re not cats. We don’t have nine lives.
We have one and only one, so make the most of it.”