So, Katie Couric has a new talk show. I haven’t seen it; it just premiered this week, I guess. But, apparently, the first episode was basically a Weight Watchers infomercial with guest (and Weight Watchers spokesperson) Jessica Simpson, so I’m gonna say catching an episode isn’t very high on my priority list right now.
However, I also heard Couric is launching a “What’s Your YOLO?” promotion, asking viewers to send in videos describing something they’ve always dreamed of doing for the chance to have Couric make that dream come true. And that was about the moment I hit my YOLO tolerance limit.
It’s hard to avoid YOLO — shorthand for “you only live once” — these days. It’s constantly trending on Twitter. (As in, “I’m going to sneak into a Justin Bieber concert. #YOLO!!!”) It’s in rap songs. Couric herself uses it every five minutes, on Twitter and in real life, and even feuded with a journalist about it.
Yes, YOLO is everywhere, but it's not just its sheer ubiquity that's annoying me. I just don't think it's a very good motto to live by.
I mean, sure. “You only live once” is, of course, true — assuming you’re not a cat and/or a zombie. And using YOLO to help inspire action — to take a chance on a new job, or a big move, or a hot fudge sundae — has its place, I guess.
Most of the time, though, I just see YOLO being used to justify crappy behavior. In one of the most extreme examples, a rapper and his friends died a few days ago while he was drunk driving, shortly after he posted a YOLO-themed tweet to his Twitter account. Search for YOLO on Twitter and you’ll get more common results like these:
i have my first college test tomorrow...and i didn't study #yolo
Just switched lanes without using my turn signal #yolo
Got Kicked out of 2chainz concert #YOLO
Sure, they’re joking … sort of … and they’d probably do obnoxious things even if YOLO didn’t exist. But I’m sick of my generation being seen as irresponsible and short sighted, and YOLO does nothing but advance that stereotype. Worse, it actually promotes that behavior.
A friend of mine recently posted to Facebook, wondering if she should start socking money away for retirement or use it to buy a trip to Europe. The majority of the responses encouraged her to take the trip. Why? YOLO, of course! Never mind that being destitute in your 70s, even if you only live those years once, is pretty sucky.
On the plus side, YOLO’s starting to flame out. I mean, it was first popularized in a rap by Drake and now Katie Couric’s using it to promote housewife contests, so...
On the downside, though, a general YOLO mentality is likely to persist among members of the scarily underinsured Gen Y. Maybe it’s a mentality that could be useful to life insurance agents. Life’s short, so it’s never too early to buy life insurance, right?
More likely though, your sales presentation could end up as tweet fodder. As in, “Spending my life insurance premium on an iPad! #yolo!!” And that's just one more hurdle life producers will have to figure out how to clear.
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