We have probably all, in some way, been witness (or been victim to – shame on you) the “YOLO” craze. Most recently derived from hip-hop artist Drake’s hit song, “The Motto,” the clever acronym stands for “You Only Live Once.” Most literally, Drake is suggesting that since “you only live once” you should probably spend a lot of money, drink a lot of expensive alcohol, do a lot of drugs, fraternize with a lot of women, and ignore any “haters” because they’re just jealous of your lifestyle. In practice, not only are most of these things unrealistic for those of us not living the celebrity lifestyle, but most of them also have the potential to have fairly adverse consequences. I guess that’s where YOLO comes in. YOLO suggests that since you only have one life, you should ignore the consequences of your actions because they essentially do not matter.
Less literally, this acronym could be a “cooler” way to say, “live your life to the fullest” or to justify doing something slightly outside of your comfort zone, such as taking an impromptu trip to Europe or striking up a conversation with the Ryan Gosling look-a-like at the bar. However, it is simply impossible for an Internet-dependent society such as ours to take this clever, potentially motivational, and relatively innocent phrase and not kill it. If the search results for #YOLO on Twitter weren’t enough to make you hate my generation, then take a look at these memes:
People actually make these and think that they are funny.The Internet has allowed for proliferation of this embarrassing trend, as well as ignorance. This is why I hate the Internet.
I may also love the Internet for the same reason that I hate the Internet. Through the use of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and the like, we are able to so easily spread our new ideas, knowledge, and even campaign for the greater good through crowdfunding efforts on Indiegogo and Kickstarter. We create viral videos and have Internet celebrities. The ability to transcend the traditional hierarchical structure of society, or “disintermediation” as The Social Economy calls it, is one of the most fascinating and exciting features of the giant social network that is the Internet. Though this disintermediation may be slightly threatening and “disruptive to power structures” in a traditional business setting, it has proven to be an extremely effective marketing tool for others. Justin Bieber, who most recently became the Twitter user with the most followers, was just KidRauhl, posting videos on YouTube of himself singing and playing guitar on street corners in his native Canada, until Scooter Braun discovered him while he was browsing videos. Outside of cyberspace and before the Internet, getting a contact in the music industry was an incredibly laborious and daunting task. Nowadays, you can post your song on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter page, and chances are through a series of strategic shares and RTs, someone in a position of power has seen your video. Pretty amazing stuff.
So it turns out that I love the Internet. But it also scares me. Just as it allowed us to campaign for disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy and express our condolences for the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, it has also allowed us to spread hashtags such as #cutforBieber and facilitate cyber-bullying. Not to mention the spread of YOLO. The combination of the Internet’s intangibility and its immeasurable power is slightly frightening. When people ask me, “What is the point to all of this nonsense?” (obviously referring to my social media obsession), I can’t help but think, “What isn’t the point?” Social media is really more powerful than we could ever know, and until business executives reconcile with the fact that the use of social media in the workplace will change the way things are done traditionally, they might be behind their competition. I really can’t wait to learn about the ways that social media will make an impact on my future, and how I can make an impact through social media in my future career.
I’ll leave you with this: