It may not surprise you that, like most trends, the lifespan of "YOLO" has been (happily) short-lived. The expression hasn't quite disappeared from UDel, as you can still hear it drifting out of the bars at 1a.m. with the throngs of inebriated students, but it quickly went from a simple motivational phrase to a social death wish. As an abstract phrase, and not a concrete trend, the evolution of YOLO is almost impossible to track. However, we will attempt the impossible. We will follow YOLO from its origins to the very last time it was uttered in a non-ironic setting.
Let's begin by defining what YOLO is.
YOLO [YO-low] part of speech: interjection - YOLO is an acronym for the phrase "You only live once." Often used to persuade others to do something they normally wouldn't.
For English majors and grammar nerds: YOLO often prefaces other related thoughts but is not necessarily related to them (hence, interjection). Example: "We're skipping all our classes today...YOLO." Here YOLO breaks new ground by appearing at the end of a sentence instead of the beginning, as interjections usually do. However, YOLO has evolved to become so flexible that it no longer can be tied down to the phrase it stands for. Therefore, it could act as a verb in certain circumstances. Or even an adjective as in "Today was so YOLO."
During late 2011 and the early months of 2012, "YOLO" could typically be heard amongst fraternity members or "bros" while convincing each other to do something really stupid. Like, "Dude who cares about indecent exposure laws, YOLO." It eventually began being used by irresponsible girls after they did something stupid to convince themselves that it was worth it (it never is). Example: "Oh wow we shouldn't have attacked police officers with our fingernails last night HAHA YOLLLOOOOOOO!"
Now, let's start at the beginning.
There are two lessons to be learned here. First, bad trends die. Hard. Whenever you decide to buy into one, expect to be made fun of in the near future. Second, YOLO is dumb. Everyone does stupid things. We don't need a catchphrase to encourage us or even justify our actions. Maybe Drake was trying to tell us something else when he said "Every day, every day, fuck what anybody say/ Can't see 'em 'cause the money in the way." He's a very successful man. He's very rich. I'm sure he wasn't encouraging everyone to screw their lives up by skipping class and breaking the law. Let's do Drake proud by remembering what YOLO really means, and do America a favor by just never, ever saying it again.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more