YOLO at its finest.
Swag*!? O you’re still saying that? No that’s so 2010. Meet ratchet’s** first cousin YOLO.
What is YOLO? It is an acronym for “You Only Live Once,” an old saying that used to mean justifying audacious and progressive actions that the average person would be too afraid to do. But now YOLO’s definition has flipped to generally justify actions that will impede on your future. The philosophy is religiously followed by teenagers who think they are Oh so bad and rebellious, and grown folks who have decided to take an extended stroll down juvi-lane.
Last November, YOLO was popularized by a line in rapper Drake’s “The Motto,” a track from his sophomore album Take Care:
“You only live once: that’s the motto, n*gga, YOLO/And we bout it every day, every day, every day.”
“The Motto” which features Lil Wayne, is a storyline glorifying the 25-years-old’s new lifestyle of blowing money fast, easy women, and egomania. Drake’s telling you he is really about that life***, and at this level of his career, I can’t argue that he isn’t. Ever since Drake got rich off a mixtape, (yeah he got rich off a mixtape) he has covered VIBE, GQ, Complex, and Billboard magazines to name a few, and has two platinum No. 1 albums. Even if you don’t believe Drake is the future of hip-hop, he definitely is in popular demand right now. His influence to the under 21-ers, especially the budding adolescents who now believe a rites of passage is being able to start a Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr page, is pretty much sketched in. Drake is (and it almost hurts to say): their hero.
And now five months later, the YOLO mentality has spread like an epidemic. I did a little research to see how far it’s reached. Me personally I’ve known what YOLO was for a while (I did buy Take Care). But for the sake of this post, I decided to look at the word with fresh new eyes.
First things first I googled YOLO. The top listing was YOLO’s Urban Dictionary entries. Everyone knows an Urban Dictionary entry officiates any colloquialism. In 2004 there was an entry defining the term as “You Only Live Once,” showing that YOLO isn’t really new.
(FTN (For The Nerds): I thought this was cool and interesting: There is also a YOLO county in California, a mostly rural agricultural region, founded in 1850. Also a YOLO restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)
I then did a public search on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and also checked out Youtube.
I wasn’t really shocked by anything, just more sickened. Instagram as of April 11th has over 243,000 photos tagged by users as #YOLO. Pinterest and Tumblr also has a mass amount of memes, photos, and quotes tagged with the phrase as well. Youtube as you can imagine has a plethora of YOLO tagged videos by users too.
Things became even more eye-brow raising when I searched the two larger social media beasts.
On Twitter there are dozens of accounts dedicated to tweeting YOLO-isms, and there are also dozens of people who have user-names with the word YOLO in it. @YOLOJokes which claims to be the first official Twitter account for YOLO, started in February and has 340,451 followers. Tweets included:
“Cutting holes on the tips of all my friend’s condoms before he goes to his girlfriend’s house…
“Getting a pencil that says “don’t do drugs” and sharpening it until it says “do drugs”…
“Putting vinegar in my mom’s contacts solution…
This represents some of the worst of it as it goes on Twitter.
On Facebook I found a few party fliers named after YOLO. Also there are a few pages dedicated to it, like the Twitter pages I mentioned above. This includes “YouOnlyLiveOnce1Same” that has over 20,000 subscribers. It seems to post randomosity from crazy quotes like those above, to weirdly inspirational quotes such as:
“I would rather walk with God in the dark than go alone in the light.” #YOLO”
What I also uncovered in YOLO-hunting is that YOLO can literately mean whatever you want it to mean now. It doesn’t only have to mean being bad per say. But now it is used to cap an air-headed remark, a cry for help, or a case of too much information:
@BryanSTAYSBased: cinnabon should follow me too cus YOLO
Huh? (These are real tweets by the way)
At the end of my little research project on YOLO, I find that it’s a youth culture craze that has reached the point of nails scratching slowly across a chalkboard or trains trying to make it happen on rusty tracks — overwhelming annoying. I was very happy to find though that for every crew of YOLO disciples out there, there also exists a couple of smart young-ins with sense to see right through it.
@1DArmy_: Stop saying yolo people this is so overrated now.
@DeLailaJohnson: The concept of YOLO isn’t to go out and smoke, drink, or make an A** out of urself. It’s to go out & do something with ur life that matters.
The good news is that even though we may find YOLO annoying, eventually the catch phrase will die and be replaced by another word. The next thing is already brewing beneath the surface ready to take YOLO’s throne. We’ve all been young and we’ve all taken on trends that we would never be caught with again. (Tall tees, jersey dresses, anyone? etc.). YOLO has the same destiny. At least that’s what I hope.
In the end, I did find a few memes that I liked. Here’s my favorite.
Now that’s my kind of man. And for this I will say: YOLO!
For those who aren’t hip. Otherwise you may share this post with friends. Thanks for reading.
*Swag: A shorter version of the word swagger. Usually refers to outward appearance and a person’s presence.
**Ratchet: Not quite sure when this word came about. I know it’s a southern word and I know I started saying in college. It usually means you are acting at a level that’s wild, crazy, uncouth, or reckless that’s above your norm.
***About that life: Another phrase I began saying in college. Very ambiguous. It usually means doing something that is nothing a goody two shoes should be involved in; strictly for the rebels.
Ex. “You going out tonight?” “Nah it’s a Tuesday, I have to be up at 6 a.m. tomorrow for work. I’m not about that life.”