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The Destructive Mentality of ‘YOLO’

By Shaked Sharky

‘YOLO’, or ‘you only live once’, has created controversies over the last few years. As a generation, we decided that life is not about the future or the past, but about the present. The phrase ‘YOLO’ can remind us that we only live in a floating rock in space; however. it can also enforce the idea that the future is irrelevant and that our actions do not entail consequences– especially at our age. The cultural sensation of the phrase ‘YOLO’ has developed into a term that is destructive to society due to the Latin aphorism ‘carpe diem’. The aphorism was created in 23 BC and is not so different than ‘YOLO’ in the sense of life philosophy; it means urging someone to live life in the moment and to make the most out of the present without giving much thought to the future and future consequences. I can agree with making the most out of the present because doing so allows for a better life. The phrase could also have some positive effects on us, such as influencing us to take more risks, live life without regrets, do what we genuinely want, and accept life’s obstacles in a positive light.

So, what is the problem? We tend to forget that the phrase makes us dismiss the future. When we say “YOLO”, we forget that every action has a consequence. To make smart decisions that will benefit us in the future, we must consider all options available and act cautiously. Furthermore, using ‘YOLO’ as an excuse or as a justification for one’s actions suggests that we can’t accept our own mistakes and take responsibility, which is crucial in character development and shapes who we are in the future. So, no, ‘YOLO’ is not an easy way to clear one’s conscience.

The phrase can also be used when facing hardships in life. Instead of confronting the issue and dealing with it, we try to ignore it until it disappears. Sadly, that’s not the solution– life is complicated and full of obstacles that we have to encounter in order to overcome because avoidance and denial will not go further than getting us stuck in the same place. We won’t be able to grow as individuals if we cannot learn to overcome the lows of life, just as we embrace the highs of life. Whatever we do in the present moment affects every aspect of our future—whether it is the near or far future. In fact, whatever you’re doing right now, like reading this article, has a direct effect on your future. Therefore, making a decision in life based on this mentality can cause substantial variations in the future.

‘YOLO’ was once a positive way of approaching life, but the common misuse or misinterpretation of this mentality has led to its downfall. In the short run, the phrase encourages us to live life to the fullest and express ourselves, but we have to stop hiding behind it. Because in the long run, a simple acronym is not an adequate philosophy of life.