I have a serious problem with “YOLO”. The phrase popular amongst young people around the world means, “You only live once”. It represents a license to do stupid things and “live” recklessly because, hey, why hold back if there’s nothing else after this?
Let’s take my Christian views out of this for a moment. Young people are often reckless enough. They always have been. That’s nothing new. What is new is that social media and the internet in general has enabled a playground of exhibitionism that far-exceeds anything that previous generations had. Kids are judged based upon their actions and willingness to post these actions on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites, bragging to their friends about their “accomplishments”. Unfortunately, the accomplishments often gravitate around how crazy and reckless they act in this “one” life.
The Tweets above were the last ones to ever be sent by a 21-year-old California man. He died in a car crash along with four of his friends.
YOLO is not the problem. It’s a symptom. It’s an example of the path that society has chosen, embracing “consequences be damned” mentalities and a desire to show boldness through stupid actions. We make celebrities out of people who do bad things and much of the boring, positive things that people do go unnoticed.
I’m angry about this. I feel sorrow for the families of the victims. I have fear for my own children, not because they embrace YOLO (one of them said she preaches “OLOY” to her friends – “Only Losers Obey YOLO”), but because the poor choices that people are making as a result can harm the innocents who are not being stupid but are caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I’m so shaken by this story that I can’t really write any more about it. Parents, teachers, students, if you hear loved ones embracing the YOLO concept, share this story with them. Not everyone is going to get drunk and blaze through a stop light at high speeds while Tweeting, but someone they know might. Arm yourselves. Be aware.