Recently, an acronym, with which you will no doubt be familiar, has cascaded across the planet like a biblical plague of corn-nibbling locusts (Exodus 10:4, Old Test’, blud.) The one to which I am referring is, of course, “YOLO”.
I first saw these mysterious letters some months ago, and had a jolly good time deciphering what they mean. Guess after guess, I really did get quite into it. To cite the Pringles advert, “Once you pop, the fun don’t stop.” (Grammatically incorrect, but so very true.) My initial guess was
“Yugoslavians Only Live in Oligarchies”
which, to my disappointment, Wikipedia exposed as incorrect. Next I hazarded
“Yellow Oranges Look Outlandishly similar to lemons, if one only regards the parameter of colour and not shape.”
Admittedly, it was a long shot, and I began to question why people would feel inclined to hashtag this. Eventually, as my search for the meaning of this acronym was proving fruitless – well, on the contrary, too fruity (see above, lawl!) – I had no choice but to look it up on Urban Dictionary. And there it was…
YOLO = “You Only Live Once.”
Instantly the philosopher in me sprang into action, his nostrils overpowered by the stench of an ideology awash with bullshit. One can only assume that before this acronym was created, many people were filled with the belief that they had more than one life, like cats or some shit. Urban Dictionary explains how YOLO is “mainly used to defend doing something ranging from mild to extreme stupidity.” Essentially then, we can do or say anything, as long as we suffix any vice with “#YOLO!”
It sounds like a lovely idea, a utopia of “do-watever-da-fuk-i-lyk wiv no consequens coz now i hav an all-excusing acronym” but there’s a fundamental problem there. Not only can you do whatever you like, so can the next (wo)man. It’s all fun and games till you’re sitting watching Million Pound Drop and a brigade of YOLOists storm into your living room and spray their diarrhea all over your family photos, happily proclaiming: “YOLO!” It’s all fun and games until you’re sitting in a five-star restaurant and someone dips their testes into your pasta – “YOLO!”
Apologies for these less than appealing images, but vulgarity is clarity. I don’t intend to moralise – what I’m saying is that people should be free to adopt a life philosophy of their choice, but not if it brings about the untimely destruction of society. Dip enough testes into enough pasta and we’re looking at a very real World War Three. I don’t want to be conscripted to fight China because someone shat in my living room.
On the other hand, there’s a lot to be said for YOLO. Constantly reminding ourselves that we have but seventy-five years (if we’re lucky) upon this mortal plane makes us value the world, and every experience in it as all the more precious and wonderful (hold tight, I’m getting all Disney Pixar on yo ass but hear me out).
Ultimately, it’s impossible to know whether we should surrender this life to unbridled hedonism (eating Pot Noodles; ignoring the Oxfam ads on TV; doing Jägerbombs through the left eye, watching Redtube [whatever that is] with the right eye) because it’ll only come once, or whether we should live with morality and virtue because life is a kind of eternal “test.” (consult Buddhism, Hinduism etc.) This side of the argument could be expressed in the acronym “WAYLLFMT” – Well Actually You Live Like Five Million Times, though I can’t see that enjoying the same popularity as YOLO.
To sum up, I think somewhere between harmlessly enjoying the pleasures of life and also realising that you should probably be a good person because a “lake of eternal fire” would really, really, REALLY hurt, is a good starting point. Thus we reach the ultimate philosophical acronym:
I hope to see some of you hashtagging this. Life, eh? Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.
Want more from this author? Try Twilight: The Facts
Or for a related article, how about The Everyman’s Guide To Lolcats
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