For those of you close to my age, let me first tell you what YOLO means. It’s one of those cool acronyms that the youngsters use nowadays instead of speaking in sentences. It stands for “You only live once.”
So, let me ask you again, what does YOLO mean to you?
For many of those same youngsters it means to live life with complete irresponsibility. Have fun. Live for the now. Don’t concern yourself with the future. Be a pleasure seeker. Live with abandon. In other words YOLO is an excuse to behave like an idiot in the name of Carpe Diem.
Responsibility is the sign of our transition from childhood to adulthood. And that transition seems to be taking longer and starting later. I didn’t care much for the movie Fight Club, but one line that stood out to me was when Brad Pitt described men as “little boys trapped in thirty year old bodies.”
It seems like the age at which we are considered adults is getting older and older.
Before it sounds like I’m pointing fingers at Generation Y, let me just say that I don’t blame them. I blame the adults. I blame the culture that they were brought up in.
Parents coddle children, thinking that making their kids’ lives easier makes them better parents. If you grew up in the 1800’s you were probably expected to go out on your land with a musket and kill something for dinner by the time you were nine. In contrast, to demonstrate how helpless society thinks children are now, last month a woman was arrested for allowing her nine year old daughter to play at a park unattended. (I am not making this up).
This is an actual employment flier for the Pony Express. They wanted young men because the horses could travel further with boys than with adults, and some of the runs were over 300 miles. Expert riders willing to risk death because there were still many hostile Indian tribes that would kill unaccompanied, white minors to take their horses. Orphans preferred so that they wouldn’t be missed by a grieving mother.
Today, peanut butter is illegal in most cafeterias because of potential allergies.
Our expectations for our youth has dropped so incredibly low.
Some might argue that those were primitive times, when people lived in hardship and were expected to live by their physical prowess. We are a more sophisticated generation, much more educationally enlightened, using our brains rather than our bodies.
Really? I’m willing to bet that most graduates of a public university today could not pass the entrance exam for public high school in 1912. Back then, you had to qualify to get in to high school. Today you are arrested for truancy if you don’t go. Here are some sample questions from an eighth grade school examination for the Bullitt County Board of Education in Shepherdsville, Kentucky from 1912:
- Arithmetic: How many steps 2 feet 4 inches each, will a man take in walking 2 1/4 miles?
- Grammar: How many parts of speech are there? Define each.
- Geography: Name and give the capitals of States touching the Ohio River.
- Physiology: How does the liver compare in size with other glands in the human body? Where is it located? What does it secrete?
- Civil Government: Define the following forms of government: Democracy, Limited Monarchy, Absolute Monarchy, Republic. Give examples of each.
- History: Who first discovered the following places – Florida, Pacific Ocean, Mississippi River, St. Lawrence River
How did you do? You can try the rest of the test here if you like.
We learn less though we are required to spend more time in school. We attempt less though we have so much more opportunity. We achieve less though we start with so much more abundance. And some idiot yells YOLO as if shotgunning a beer were some kind of accomplishment.
So here is my message to the young (and old) people of today.
If you don’t feel that your government, your school or even your parents expect great things out of you, then expect greatness of yourself.
You only live once, so take responsibility for your life. You only live once, so recognize that your actions today influence the direction of your life tomorrow. You only live once, so be respectful to others and don’t utter hateful words that will damage relationships. You only live once, so treat your body like you plan to wear it for a long time. You only live once, so stop waiting for someone else to provide you with your life. You only live once, so always strive towards greatness. You only live once, so don’t give up on any worthwhile endeavor. You only live once, so live your life with purpose. You only live once, so live today how you want to be remembered when you are gone.
You only live once, so don’t do stupid things that will be caught on video and get you fired tomorrow.
So, what does YOLO mean to you?