Understanding The Concept Behind The Yolo Mentality

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About this sample


Words: 1594 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Sep 12, 2018

Words: 1594|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Sep 12, 2018

It’s amazing how much the world can change in such a short amount of time. I’m only 23 years old, but the world I remember as an adolescent seems so far away and make believe, almost like it was all just a dream or something I read about in a history textbook. It just isn’t reality anymore. Every generation seems to want to be different from the generations before them. We all want to make our own statements and forge our own paths. Following in our parent’s footsteps seems too much like admitting that we can’t live life any better than they could. It feels too much like giving up. Not all change is good change though; and in the case of the new YOLO mentality, it is the antithesis of progress. The world has gone from one extreme to another. From believing in tight, structuralized citizens who are afraid to speak their minds, to believing in acceptance of all things and all people-good or bad. YOLO (You Only Live Once) is the whole idea of being reckless; doing what you want and damning the consequences- not caring about what anyone has to say about it. It is completely contrary to the values and life ambitions that we had when I was younger. Here we are, just a few short years later and everyone seems to glorify the idea of throwing caution to the wind and living how you want no matter what may happen and no matter who may object. People seem to be erasing the line that used to mark the difference between right and wrong, responsible and reckless, smart and idiotic. “Right and Wrong” is an idea of the past, and something that no longer exists. With the new YOLO mentality, many people have the excuse they need to live carelessly, and in a state of constant satisfaction, and they think that means that the world is getting better. I submit that the YOLO mentality is what is destroying the direction of America’s youth, not improving it.

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First, think about when the phrase “You Only Live Once” is applied. Is it when you’re getting into your car, about to hit the road and you remember to strap on your seatbelt because “YOLO!” ? Is it when you’re up all night studying for your college exams, trying to get a degree because You Only Live Once? This isn’t a phrase that is used when you’re actually thinking about your life and your future. It’s a phrase that’s used as an excuse to be stupid. Lazy. Reckless. It’s a phrase that is used when you’re at a party and someone hands you your fourth shot of whiskey. Rationally you are well aware of some of the unwise decisions you might make as a result of allowing yourself to get completely wasted, but it’s fun! You want to have fun! Who cares what exams you have in the morning! Who cares about whatever situation you might be in. Life is about today. It’s about now. It’s about instant gratification and fun. That’s what YOLO means. YOLO is an excuse to flush your responsibilities down the drain, at least for the moment that you find yourself in, when fun trumps wisdom.

I’m not here to advocate the life of a recluse, either. People should enjoy life and have fun, especially when they’re young. Going to parties and getting up the courage to talk to the person you like and stepping outside of your comfort zone is a good thing. It’s an admirable thing, actually. A lot of us (myself included) aren’t brave enough to speak our minds or do the things that scare us. I won’t argue that it’s in any way healthy to isolate yourself and dedicate your entire existence to studying and working absolutely all the time the way generations before ours did. As in all aspects of life though, there has to be a balance. There has to be a respect for other people and for authority and for heeding the advice of those older and wiser than us.

Instead of looking to those older and wiser for wisdom, young people today pull their knowledge from the internet and from TV. One of the most influential young celebrities today is a young woman named Miley Cyrus. Miley Cyrus is an actress/ singer who could basically be the poster child of this whole generation. She’s the queen of breaking boundaries and of challenging social norms and expectations. I’ve heard statements like this made about admirable women in history like Amelia Earhart, who was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic ocean, or Jane Austen who was a writer above all else and believed in herself enough to not allow other people’s put downs to stop her from doing what she loved. Miley Cyrus, on the other hand, is challenging the norm of ‘DOING something with your life’. She challenges the norm of working hard and having dreams and then blowing those dreams out of the water. I just recently saw a music video by Miley Cyrus called “We Can’t Stop”, and it’s basically a summary of the youthful outlook on life today. Quite frankly, it’s disturbing. In a nutshell, she’s describing her theory that people should be free to do whatever they want and that nobody should judge us for it. One of her lyrics says “To my home girls here with the big butt shaking it like we at a strip club: remember only God can judge ya…forget the haters ’cause somebody loves ya”. God does love us, regardless of what we do; but does that mean that He condones our sins? Does His undying love for us mean that we are free to be promiscuous and anything else that is quite obviously sinful? “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.” -Romans 13:13 Not only are her words influential, but the way Miley Cyrus presents herself is affecting the minds of young girls today as well. From her revealing clothing to her overly sexual dancing, she is corrupting the minds of young girls and showing them that propriety is a thing of the past. It doesn’t matter what people say-do what you want, dress how you want, say what you want. We are in a time where anything and everything is socially acceptable. In the words of Miley Cyrus, “It’s our party-we can do what we want.”

What does that even mean? “We can do what we want”? What do young people want? Do they want to have depressing, tiresome lives that are run completely by someone else? Because that’s what you get when you sit around and have fun until you’re thirty. You realize that you’ve spent your whole life living for the now and not planning ahead. Pretty soon you’re thirty years old, living at home because you never put your nose to the grind and got anything done. But we’re young. We’re too involved in “fun” to care. Nihilism is more and more relevant in youthful culture the longer time goes on. It’s impossible to be perfect; everyone knows that. Even trying to attain greatness is hard work. It takes time and dedication and long nights and patience. Any great thing takes effort and nothing worth having comes easy. As cliche as that phrase has become, it remains as true as ever. How is this for a new metaphor: When the radiator in your car breaks down, does that mean you should just say “Screw it!” and drive the whole thing over a cliff? Or should you fix it as best as you can? In a way, a person’s life is a lot like the life of a car. It takes a lot of time and money and frustration to own a car. Believe me, I know. I’ve had many long and annoying days where my old car wouldn’t start for one reason or another. It was a really cute blue Honda Civic…made in 1991. I knew it was old when I got it, but I didn’t care because it got me from point A to point B (most of the time) and that’s all I could ask for. There was a time when it would stop, literally in the middle of the road and I had no idea why. I’ve had to call my dad to pick me up or help me figure out why it wasn’t working probably more times than the average person, and while my adorable little car chugged on for as long as it could, eventually I had to give it up and get a new car. Unlike a car though, people can’t just go out and get a new body or a ‘do over’ in life when the one they’ve got breaks down on them.

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While the phrase, YOLO is used for the wrong reasons, you really only do live once-at least in a physical sense. Being an adult is new and exciting when you’re young and it means that you can choose whether or not you’re going to do the things that you don’t want to do, but that you know are good for you. Young people especially should stop and think about where they want to be in their lives in ten, even twenty years and if the decisions they’re making now will help them to get there or if they’ll end up like my old 1991 Honda Civic: Dead and in some guy’s garage.

Works Cited

  1. Adler, M. (2014). The dangers of living with a YOLO mentality. Psychology Today.
  2. Auslander, M. (2013). YOLO and the age of narcissism. Slate.
  3. Cox, C., & Kenkel, D. (2016). "You Only Live Once": Identifying Risky Behavior with Free Recall. Journal of Consumer Research, 43(1), 129-144.
  4. DeWall, C. N., Baumeister, R. F., Chester, D. S., & Bushman, B. J. (2017). How often does currently felt emotion predict social behavior and judgment? A meta-analytic test of two theories. Emotion Review, 9(2), 99-107.
  5. Kringelbach, M. L., & Berridge, K. C. (2021). Pleasures of the brain. Oxford University Press.
  6. Livingston, J. A., & Zaniewski, J. M. (2017). Millennials' YOLO mentality: An exploratory study. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 25(4), 349-368.
  7. Mitchell, E. (2014). The YOLO mentality: Does it harm or help? HuffPost.
  8. Ralston, R. (2018). The pursuit of happiness and the YOLO mentality: A consideration of eudaimonic and hedonic happiness, well-being, and life satisfaction. Journal of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing, 2(1), 42-54.
  9. Shuck, B., & Rose, K. (2013). Reframing YOLO: Exploring the educational implications of a popularized youth culture slogan. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 57(5), 364-372.
  10. Twenge, J. M., Campbell, S. M., & Freeman, E. C. (2012). Generational differences in young adults' life goals, concern for others, and civic orientation, 1966-2009. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(5), 1045-1062.
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Understanding the Concept Behind the YOLO Mentality. (2018, Jun 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from
“Understanding the Concept Behind the YOLO Mentality.” GradesFixer, 03 Jun. 2018,
Understanding the Concept Behind the YOLO Mentality. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 10 Dec. 2023].
Understanding the Concept Behind the YOLO Mentality [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Jun 03 [cited 2023 Dec 10]. Available from:
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