Immortality. Sounds pretty nice right? All the coolest people throughout history have had it: Nicholas Flamel, the Greek Gods, Mario and Luigi. I mean you get an eternity of time to do whatever you want (basket weaving, duh), you get to watch other people come up with the most incredible inventions ever (let me just say: Sham “Wow!”), and then you get the prestigious luxury of growing old and turning gray until you can’t even move and then watching everyone who you know and love die in the fiery inferno of a nuclear winter (or an alien attack, I haven’t decided yet) and, if you’re lucky, you become a grasshopper. One out of 10 immortals becomes a grasshopper. What happens to the rest, you ask? Well they just die.
Or maybe it’s that they “stop existing.” But either way, I think we can agree: Immortality’s the best! However, I guess there may also be a few downsides to this whole “living for eternity” thing. But then what’s with the obsession?
Probably, it comes down to two cups of “fear of death” and one heaping tablespoon of “hope,” all baked in the oven at 350 degrees. There’s a whole world of literature out there on the subject, everything from classic stories like “Gilgamesh” (I think it might take the cake on “classic”), to movies like “Cloud Atlas“ (didn’t anyone else even see that . . .), and songs like “Forever Young.”
It wasn’t so long ago that we had Jay-Z whispering in our ears, “Forever young, I wanna be, forever young.” But when this Renaissance man was asked, “Do you really want to live forever?” he deferred to some old-school Outkast logic: “Forever ever, Forever ever.”
But “forever never seems so long, until you’ve grown.” So, in a strange kind of acceptance of our mortality, a generation of youths has turned to a different standard for living, a higher moral value, a “so fresh, so clean” mentality, a new low for humanity — a YOLO, that is.
Yes, it’s the phrase that has been sweeping the nation (I hope not the world) since back in November of 2011 when popularized by Canada’s finest rapper, Drake, in his song “The Motto.” Luckily for me, at the time of its release, I was living on the streets of northern Africa where they were blasting Shakira instead. Let me tell you, I will take “She Wolf” over “The Motto” any day of the year. And that’s saying something (“hoowwwoooo”).
However, even since the beginning, the philosophical gem of a saying “You Only Live Once” has received loads of criticism. As the youth of our nation run around dropping “YOLOs” to unashamedly apologize for what we can only claim to be attempts at suicide by lighter fluid, alcohol, cotton candy, our parents and elders have grown in fear of what harm we’ll do next. But to all those cynics out there (a.k.a. haters), let me remind you, as Wikipedia so eloquently reminded me, that YOLO is really just the same as Carpe Diem. Yep. That’s right folks. We have successfully taken a phrase that has been around since a majority of people were actually speaking Latin (i.e. it’s very old), a phrase uttered by John Keats and Robin Williams alike, and whittled it down to an ugly, little acronym. YOLO! [said in the most offensively stereotypical-bimbo-ignoramus voice] Alas, poor Yoric.
Yet, just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. How could we forget about Ke$ha! And her catchy hit “Die Young” at that. At least before we were focusing on living, even if only once, but we’ve now been asked to literally die, in our youth, at our prime, speak now or forever hold your peace. Wonderful.
That lovely little lady with a dollar sign in her name has now made an anthem for people across the world to “make the most of the night like we’re going to die young.”
Yet in this battle against Canadians and dollar signs people have tried their best to come up with some catchy phrase to overwhelm the zombie-like-ignorance virus that is deep inside us all. They’ve used things like “YODO — you only die once.” It may be morbid, but perhaps it has just the right amount of realistic sense to knock out YOLO’s aggravating, albeit humorous, overtones — because nothing makes me laugh more than millions of people dying. And then of course there’s “you oughta look out.”
Now, while I doubt that anyone could parody ideals like YOLO or The Space Olympics better than Lonely Island in their series of (what some may call jokes but are surely) public service announcements (I know I’ll be staying away from saunas, crawling with piranhas), I thought I’d give it a shot.
I offer to you, citizens of the greater Boston area, my antidote to Yolo, my crème-de-la-stop-with-this-
And no, it’s not short for Yoko Ono. It simply means, “You only niggle once.” All right, so maybe that doesn’t work so well. But perhaps you can use YONO to mean “You only No,” as in “No worries” or “No, thank you” or even “No, I don’t want to hear what you or I or anyone ‘only’ does once.” I don’t “only do anything. I fight, I laugh, I make mistakes, freak out, fall asleep, eat, live and yes, I even die.
So they next time someone even starts to utter those four little letters “YOLO,” just remember to be polite, right before you get up in their face and yell at the top of your lungs “YO…NO!”
David Fontana is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, and a weekly columnist for the Daily Free Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.