YOLO – What it doesn’t mean

My kids taught me YOLO.  I thought it was a new snack cake. Apparently, it stands for You Only Live Once. I’m not quite sure how or why the younger generation thinks this is their original concept to own. You have always Only Lived Once and generations of very smart, talented, courageous people have known it. Heck, really stupid people know it. It is why men and women have risked their lives for a worthy cause. They wanted their Once to mean something. It is why men and women have written and painted and created. They wanted their Once to leave something beautiful behind. YOLO is why you should try new things, travel, find your passion, be kind, make a difference, speak up, stand for something, run a marathon, run a charity, give it your all, complain less and do more.

I am afraid of what it may mean for my kids.

YOLO, put the book down, pick up the iPhone. YOLO, who cares about the assignment? YOLO, don’t let those bad grades bum you out.

YOLO, everyone is doing it. YOLO, it will feel really good. YOLO, who needs a condom?

YOLO, pass the bottle. YOLO, pass the joint. YOLO, pass the powder. YOLO, pass the needle.

Forgive me. I’m feeling a little salty today. I’ve heard about one too many heroine overdoses this week. The wasted potential is crushing me. Here’s how I now talk to my kids about drugs, even the little ones. Forget the after school specials and the psych 101 classes. I am cutting to the chase. “You do drugs, you ruin your life, and then you die. That’s how it happens. Drugs … destruction … death. Any questions?” Maybe I am oversimplifying things, but I don’t care. For a generation who communicates in text-speak … WTF, LOL, TTYL, BRB, JK … simple, may be the best and only way to get through.

Throwing caution to the wind because we are all going to die someday is not a novel idea, and it continues to be a stupid one. Abbreviating it to four letters doesn’t make it any cooler, and it certainly doesn’t make it smarter. If one of my kids says, “Hey mom, YOLO. I’m going to try to get  into Harvard, ” or “Hey mom, YOLO. I’m going to learn a new language in my spare time,” I’ll apologize to YOLO. Thus far, I’ve only heard it said in response to silly, irresponsible or potentially dangerous suggestions. YOLO is an idiot.

From now on when the kids say YOLO, I’m going to say, “That’s right. So, Don’t Screw It Up.” I really wish DSIU translated into something you could abbreviate. That would be such a cool way to end this post. For now, I’ll have to forego cool for accuracy. Grown ups sound pretty foolish when they use text lingo in real life anyway. Speaking of foolish, it is akin to wearing a Bieber t-shirt or sticking out your tongue like Miley. So … YOLO? That’s right. You don’t get another chance. Grades matter. Pregnancies and STDs happen. Drugs kill. DSIU.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.