"You Only Live Once" - A phrase drunken teenagers and morally-warped thrill seekers use to signal that they're about to make a bad decision. Ever since the hip-hop artist Drake astutely observed that "You only live once, that's the motto n***a Y.O.L.O." this particular abbreviation has become popular due to numerous adolescents seeing it as an excuse to perform daring or otherwise reckless acts purely for the sake of their own mortality. Whilst this phrase is currently the M.F.T.M.A.T. (Most Frequently Trending Meaningless Acronym on Twitter), there are many faults to this abbreviation that have been painfully overlooked. Thus far it is my firm belief that if we had any sense at all we would outlaw this detrimental acronym for a few simple reasons:
1. It encourages a social regression in intelligence.
The first and foremost reason for my vendetta against such a phrase is its instigation of a mass reduction in linguistic flexibility, as frankly if society needed a lobotomy this would be the slow but effective way of doing it. My primary hatred of Y.O.L.O. stems not necessarily from what it entails in the short term but in the long term, as its abbreviation denotes a vocal laziness that could accentuate in the future due to its current popularity.
Picture it: a society that uses letters to represent their feelings or actions rather than expressing them through the beauty of language. Instead of asking “Is the Bus Running Late Today?” one would say “I.B.R.L.T.?”. Rather than study the poetry of geniuses such as Frost and Browning, schools would forcefully deteriorate F. Scott Fitzgerald’s finest piece into “T.G.G.”. In place of more traditional methods of courting, asking someone out would simply require the phrase “W.2.G.O.A.D8?” (Want to Go On A Date?). It may just be me, but a future that is so reduced in its ability to speak is a primitive future not worth “Only Living Once” for.
2. The phrase is untrue when considered in alternate contexts.
As well as the grammatical inferiority of this phrase annoying me, it should be taken into account that this acronym is also wrong in terms of some situations bringing with them exceptions. Thus not only does this abbreviation reveal a lack of competence but also of general knowledge.
· Buddhists believe in the act of reincarnation, and so this phrase could be seen to go against their religion in terms of its implications of mortality.
· The hit Bond Film You Only Live Twice proves that in a more cultured atmosphere the singularity of life can be defied, especially when the person is someone as Godly a Sean Connery.
· If we are to accept the power of phrases, then surely cats having ‘nine lives’ gives such sayings a paradoxical quality.
· Doctor Who is set to have 13 incarnations of himself. Granted, this may only be a television programme but the acronym would nonetheless render itself useless within one of the only abbreviations I deem acceptable: The TARDIS.
3. It is practically guaranteed to decrease life expectancy.
By using the phrase Y.O.L.O. in any situation, a person is almost automatically agreeing to risk their health and/or very life for the sake of perhaps never having the opportunity to do it again. However, what the majority of youths seem to misunderstand is that by performing such acts they are ensuring whatever single life they are living is drastically shortened if not terminated altogether.
Surely the purpose of exclaiming “Y.O.L.O.” and then drinking yourself under the table is to make a proclamation to your fellow binge-drinkers that life is short, and so must be pushed to its limit in every situation. Yet by doing so you are ensuring the validity of such an abbreviation by risking the very life you wish to enjoy. Hence Y.O.L.O. in such situations is the verbal acceptance of a mortal contract, denoting that you agree to potentially end your life through trying to renew it!
4. It makes the brevity of life a much harsher reality.
Conversely, such a phrase could be seen to extend one’s life expectancy through reminding oneself that death lurks around every corner, thus causing one to take obsessive precautions that would prevent enjoyment of the finer things in life. “You Only Live Once” is therefore also a brutal warning that arguably stops some from taking a risk once in a while that may be worth taking to get the most out of life. Despite the odd and partially demented lyrics to the Lonely Island’s new smash hit “YOLO” (featuring Adam Levine and Kendrick Lamar) (see above), its message is an interesting one and shows us that some can take this phrase too seriously and hence become paranoid of life’s many dangers that we all must face day to day.