A few years ago, “rapper” Drake is credited with penning the timeless classic “The Motto,” which created the meme of “you only live once,” or as it is best known “YOLO.”
Many like to castigate this song as a silly form of social Darwinism. There are examples of people doing some utterly fucktarded things while rambling about how they only live once so they may as well enjoy it, like a guy who died while drunk driving and tweeting. Most interestingly, the song has gone from an actual movement with people adopting it as their own personal mantra to just an ironic joke. But is this correct?
The notion of “you only live once” is unique to the current generation. After the Boomers have ransacked and held the economy for ransom, the generations that followed were forced to accept a future without any guarantees like the Boomers had. Went to college so you can make a successful life? Well, tough because the Boomer before you is occupying any promotion you’d be able to do for the next 20 years. So, rather than focusing on a life where you save money to pass on to the next generation, and work for that imaginary job, the concept of you only live once has never been truer; for the majority of us, we won’t work one job but several rotating jobs in various career paths. Instead we should enjoy the time we have now before we die in whatever job we landed in today.
Furthermore, we can extrapolate that YOLO is a condemnation of religion. It resonates with the youth because they no longer see rewards in the afterlife. This is our only time to enjoy what we have, and we had better take it for ourselves. The Boomer generation takes a lot of flak because they hold a lot of the cards, and a lot of the blame for the economic turmoil. That topic deserves its own dissection, but the point remains that the generation in power is the one that taught “Me first” concept that lead to the belief of entitlement in the Millennials.
The concept of you only live once is a notion that a lot of other generations won’t get. I like the slogan from Aleister Crowley, boiled down to be, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will.” What this states is we should do what is in the best interest for us first, be that taking care of our health, our happiness, or those who contribute to that. Since that is a bit of a loaded phrase written by a raging bigot lunatic, we have to find new ways of adapting this to the times.
In the end, do what makes you happy, be it helping others or yourself without hurting anyone else. Above all, act in a way that you will be able to live with and ensure you do so without unnecessary risk. Because after all, you only live once.