Archive for March, 2015

Notes from the wild side, and YOLO

17 March 2015

From the esteemed pages of Wikipedia:

YOLO is an acronym for “you only live once”. Similar to carpe diem, it implies that one should enjoy life, even if that entails taking risks. The phrase and acronym are both used in youth culture and music, and were both popularized by the 2011 song “The Motto” by Canadian rapper Drake.

The phrase “you only live once” is commonly attributed to Mae West, but variations of the phrase have been in use for over 100 years, including as far back as (the German equivalent of) “one lives but once in the world” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in his 1774 play Clavigo…

I recently encountered this popular idea in a slightly altered form on a site where every post is written by “Tyler Durden” (the “hero” of a novel and movie called “Fight Club” and the graphic novel Fight Club 2). The website is actually used by various writers who want to post articles that are a little more “edgy” than their usual publications are willing to tolerate. The motto of this website is:

On a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.

Now, I wish to make my position on this issue very clear:

This idea is incorrect, unethical, and untrue!

And in particular, it is unethical. Ethics has to do with the making of pro-survival decisions. If one truly believes that he only lives once and thereafter is “out of here” forever, one will make very different decisions about survival than if one was quite sure one would be returning again soon, and probably many, many times.

Moreover, the idea expressed in the Wikipedia article that this phrase supports living the life of a carefree risk-taker makes absolutely no sense to me. One might just as likely believe that having many lifetimes would allow for taking more risks in this one, than the other way around. Indeed many Christians apparently believe that after you die out of this life you must wait somewhere for the day of judgement, when your actions this lifetime will determine whether you end up in heaven or in hell. If I really believed that, I’d be ultra-careful, and that’s actually how I see most people behaving. They’re scared shitless they’ll screw up their one big change to get it right!

 

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