A wise young man, once bound to a wheelchair in the halls of Degrassi High, once said “You only live once, that’s my motto. . . YOLO.” Drake’s new-age philosophy has inspired today’s youth into living life to the fullest. Unfortunately, sometimes today’s youth isn’t prepared for what life can throw at them. “YOLO,” however, is mostly used facetiously, because of the audience it attracts: annoying teenagers.
“YOLO” exists purely in the realm of bright-eyed and moody high schoolers, although sometimes the behavior of stupidity for stupidity’s sake is a result of its use. For instance, an aspiring young rapper died after tweeting “YOLO” about his drunk driving. This kind of behavior, most likely not endorsed by Drake himself, is a result of his song and his lifestyle. He makes living once sound like it’s an excuse to endanger your life rather than a reason to be more careful, which any sane person would interpret the phrase to mean.
“YOLO” is a young meme, and for that reason, it hasn’t changed much. However, it has gone from being a legitimate phrase as a reason to do something exciting or dangerous to be used by hipsters and other more sane people as a sarcastic jab at those who follow the lifestyle of YOLO. “YOLO” has spread so well because of its ease in understanding and its short length. One could easily send out a tweet with “#YOLO,” and instantly all of one’s followers would be in the know. We are more connected now than we ever have been, and because of this, memes such as “YOLO” propagate incredibly easily. Susan Blackmore discussed that “when you imitate someone else, something is passed on,” and the lifestyle of rappers is imitated by many, from baggy pants to sideways hats.
“YOLO” is not a part of a larger memeplex. Meme theory is the idea that memes are shared like genes are, and “YOLO” certainly assists in natural selection in some way. However, “YOLO” is spread from person to person, and it is not necessarily spread for its popularity, because it is sometimes propagated because of it’s irony.