off the cuff

The YOLO Generation


dalai-lama

Are mantras like “you only live once” and songs that suggest “partying like you’re going to die young” healthy ways of viewing our time here on earth?  I have recently dubbed millennials, the YOLO Generation, because their leaders, Drake and Lil Wayne, have adopted a lifestyle which seems to shun common sense and praise irresponsibility.  In turn, their “disciples” seem to have little regard for their health, well being or their life, in general.

When you say, “You Only Live Once,” what does that really mean?  On one hand, I interpret it to mean, “no fear.” But, sometimes fear is healthy.  It is necessary to prevent us from behaving foolishly and putting ourselves and others in danger.  On the other hand, it can give you the gumption or the wherewithal necessary to be wildly successful and attain your dreams without hangups, feelings of inadequacy or fear of failure.

When I heard Ke$ha’s Die Young lyrics, I cringed. I thought to myself, ‘why would anyone want to die young.’  Does “going hard” now trump longevity?  With youngsters like Lil Wayne and Rick Ross suffering  seizures and strokes at such young ages, it seems as though it does, at least among the YOLO Generation.  When I was growing up, death was something no one looked forward to.  We didn’t even talk about it, as simply the thought of it made us realize our own mortality.

Folks my age are all about their health.  I know my fair share of vegans, or half-a** vegans I like to call vegatarians, HerbaLifers, Shakeologists and those who won’t even let water touch their lips if it’s not organic.  Part of me wonders if my generation would benefit more from having this sort of mentality?  After all, living in the moment and throwing caution to the wind makes for an exciting life.

If you say to yourself, ‘you only live once, so go talk to that guy or that girl,’ or ‘start that business,’ that’s fine. But, saying yolo to convince yourself to pop some molly eh…not so much.  I want to be successful and enjoy life, but I also want to live long enough to see the fruits of my labor.

What does “living”entail? I suppose the answer is subjective, as people have varying ideas of what it means to be successful and how true happiness is attained.  All I know is, I am not working hard so I can pop bottles in a club and drink myself into a coma. I am striving for success for my family, present and future, because ultimately that’s what matters to me in this life.

What is success to you? Do you work hard so you can play hard? Do you think the YOLO Generation is onto something or is their mentality as futile as it seems?

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Discussion

11 thoughts on “The YOLO Generation

  1. Man. I couldn’t help but laugh where you suggested Lil Wayne and Drake to be leaders of the YOLO generation. Too funny. Last year, I had a long, hard talk with my teen daughter where I asked what if anything do those words mean to her and she replied, “For me, they don’t mean being reckless.”

    I held my breath, beforehand, hoping she didn’t reply stupidly. And since she showed that she had a functioning brain, we were pretty much able to go into details of what comes after YOLO’ing in a reckless manner in the same ways as your post. I am almost certain that my generation lived in the same “diehard” light as many of today’s generation…but it just doesn’t seem as if we were as nihilistic.

    Music-wise, I can only think of Prince’s 1999 song that might’ve spoke of YOLO. Even then, he was singing more on Judgment Day, I believed.

    Posted by don | March 28, 2013, 10:23 PM
    • Lol they are their leaders! Kids are so impressionable, and so it is good that you are having these discussions with your daughter, and that she is able to talk to you openly about the concerns of her generation.

      We had DARE and other programs geared towards fighting the war on drugs. I don’t see anything showing these kids that poppin mollies and doing lines is not cute. If anything, it is glorified. Unfortunately, there are lots of parents out there letting the streets/media/friends raise/influence their kids. It’s sad

      I wondered where you’ve been. Glad you’re back on the scene 🙂

      Posted by 30thoughts | March 28, 2013, 10:40 PM
      • No problem Miriam, I enjoy your posts, very stimulating.

        There is definitely some truth to the influences you’ve described. Why is the culture so changed from yesteryear? Why all of a sudden are detrimental behaviors so glorified? I grew up in the crack epidemic era where dealers stood on the street corners and I never imagined it could become worse than the early 90s. Back then, parents sheltered and prevented children from becoming a product of that environment. Nowadays, the youth of today aren’t selling the drugs…it appears they are now the ones doing the dope.

        And acting like it, too!

        Posted by Don | March 29, 2013, 4:09 AM
  2. TT:

    While subjective, “Success” like “love” is typically defined incorrectly based on a shortsighted view and lack of hands-on experience. For many, success is about money, fame, material things, and how many people they can take from due to their “status” (whatever that may be). I have business and personal relationships with several people who are billionaires or worth hundreds of millions of dollars. By most people’s definition, all of these people would be categorized as successful. However, I know that quite a few of them have broken marital relationships, have substance abuse issues, and feel they don’t need people subsequently resulting in their isolating themselves (not to the degree of being a hermit).

    Success to me entails my having a true relationship with the Lord, and using my blessings to be a blessing. I have been blessed with the privilege of owning several businesses. As far as I am concerned, these businesses are not successful simply when money comes into the accounts, as I believe success must take into account the whole picture. We must pay and treat every employee better than expected, we must exceed the expectations of those we provide services or products to, we must make take active steps to improve the environment in which we conduct business and live, we must take an interest in employees futures as not all plan to stay with us for the duration of their lives, we must provide to contractors who perform well, we must take volunteer our time, and financial political resources to help impact the lives of the less fortunate. These types of things help improve the quality of people’s lives, as well as, assists people with feeling better about themselves which helps them to have a better disposition when they go home to the families or significant others. The effect of which goes on and on (less anger, reduced stress means better health, etc).

    The YOLO approach is wildly misguided and would overlook the types of things listed above. While it can spur someone to not procrastinate in pursuing a dream, I believe it more commonly results in a self-centered approach to life, as well as, ignoring the long-term effects of that one’s behavior/lifestyle can have on their spiritual, mental, and physical health. This generation has not ceased to engage in actions which result in children being born which makes this even sadder because many of these children will grow up with parents who are either not around or ill-equipped to raise them properly because of their embracing of the “live for the moment” lifestyle.

    Further, it breeds a lack of love for one’s self and their fellow man. Unfortunately, I see fewer young people at the volunteer events I attend than in the past. I find that many feel they have no need to gather wisdom from wise people who possess more experience than themselves. As mentioned, I often share the ill-effects of eating and drinking all of this death causing food which is available everywhere, and very of young people listen unless they are pursuing a career in athletics.

    My perception is that their is “good” and “bad” types of excitement (just like money). Life can be exciting without being reckless.

    Just my humble opinion.

    Posted by Mark | March 28, 2013, 10:40 PM
    • “Life can be exciting without being reckless.” – I completely agree!! But, how do we sell this dream to our young people?

      Also, many of these young people don’t care about anyone or anything else, but themselves. They’ll do anything for a buck!

      Posted by 30thoughts | March 28, 2013, 10:50 PM
      • “But, how do we sell this dream to our young people?” This is a great question. The challenge we’re battling against the message being pushed by “celebrities”. The only answer I have at the moment involves occassionally taking them along when we do things that are exciting without being reckless, so that they can experience it first hand. As Dave Chapelle said “everything looks better in slow motion”, so simply telling them about out it will pale in comparison to someone pulling up to the red light or walking into the “spot” in slow motion. 😉 First hand experience is what they need. What do you think?

        I agree that “they’ll do anything for a buck!” It’s truly sad and the concerted efforts to limit their options by the powers that be are making the situation even worse.

        Posted by Mark | March 28, 2013, 11:16 PM
      • Well, when I have children, I intend to teach them that life isn’t ALWAYS about having fun. There are seasons and while I do want them to enjoy life, all things should be done in moderation (that’s my mantra ATIM lol). This is where values come in. I’ll teach them to value themselves, that their body is a temple, to value others and others’ opinions, to respect authority and to put God first. Hopefully, all other things will fall into place.

        Posted by 30thoughts | March 29, 2013, 1:50 AM
  3. Well I wrote a post a while ago on this YOLO thing http://petersburgh.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/are-you-on-this-y-o-l-o-too/ which you commented as well and even though I was looking at the idiocy of repeating it with every possible thing you do, it goes to show that this fast life thing is being indoctrinated into the youth and even some older ones. People listen to artists and actors more than parents, teachers or preachers now and while sometimes these artists can probably relate to the youth easier, it’s still the parents etc job to step in. I am very proud of the first commenter kid’s response which shows some of the youth can be saved but we got to work harder. Lil Wayne and Drake are characters not real people and they say a lot of things they don’t mean and sometimes things they mean too but hopefully some of the YOLO gen can realise the difference

    Posted by petersburgh | March 30, 2013, 2:30 AM
    • I agree. I think most of what they say is not intended to be taken seriously, but it is, and like you said, it’s up to parents to make sure that their kids understand that life is precious. Definitely characters…(sigh)

      Posted by 30thoughts | March 30, 2013, 2:49 AM
  4. It’s funny because I live in the YOLO generation and I feel as if people have been living with the “you only live once” mentality for years now, it’s just that someone has finally articulated it in a catchy way. People have been doing crazy stuff since the 60s and 70s. So I can’t sit here and say the youth is at fault for thinking this way. If you grow up seeing your parents work 15-20 years to make ends meet only to be unsatisfied with their lives you can’t help but to think about enjoying the beauty of right now. Better yet, people have been eating with the “Yolo” mentality for decades now and we’re starting to see it affect the diet of the youth but years ago before science stuck a needle in bad eating habits no one was saying anything despite our common sense telling us it was wrong. Now, I’m not advocating the Yolo mentality. I’m all about living right, working hard, and patiently waiting for your turn but at the same time put yourself in their shoes. Plus, it doesn’t always have to be viewed under a negative light. Yolo can be applied to taking chances on chasing dreams or pursuing someone of interest. Sometimes you can’t always do things by protocol, you have to just tear your walls down and go for it. There’s a good and a bad with Yolo, just like everything else in life. I don’t believe the youth’s mentality is futile, just different.

    Posted by MadBlkMan | May 9, 2013, 11:39 PM
    • Very true. I struggle with it myself as you can probably gather from the tone of the article. On one hand, ppl are always saying “Life is Short” and YOLO, but then they’re saying that we should plan for the future and eat healthy.

      People are prolonging marriage, kids, and other life decisions with the expectation that we are living longer these days, and hoping that they have at least 90 years on this earth. Maybe a good mentality would be a mix between the two. Enjoy life, live for today, but plan for tomorrow. I think YOLO can be good and bad, but partying like you’re going to die young is never a good mentality to live by. It’s just reckless.

      Posted by 30thoughts | May 10, 2013, 1:05 AM

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