Which one do you consider more important, the present or the future? You may have heard about "YOLO" recently. It is an acronym that means “You Only Live Once.” The YOLO trend is spreading among those in their 20’s and 30’s and we can easily hear the word, even in the media. It has a similar meaning to the phrase “Carpe diem” that was popularized by the film, Dead Poets Society. It means “seize the day.” The word YOLO became more famous because of a lyric in a song called “The Motto” (2011) that was sung by a Canadian artist, Aubrey Drake Graham. It was a cultural fad in the early 21st century for teens and in music. It means spending money for the enjoyment of the present, without being anxious about the uncertain future.
Many young people these days think the happiness of the present is more important than the happiness of the future. According to a survey by an employment site, Saramin, 53.3% of people in their 20’s and 30’s think that “the present happiness” is more important than “the larger happiness in the future”. The appearance of the YOLO trend is a result of severe economic recession and social unrest. Many young people face deprivation and a sense of loss due to unemployment, entrance examinations, marriage and child care.
The YOLO trend between the youth had an effect on the media in Korea. Most people relate traveling to YOLO. In fact, because of this trend, there are lots of TV entertainment programs based on traveling. “Youth over Beauty” shows young celebrities traveling to Africa and enjoying their time in nature together. It was the start of the YOLO trend in the Korean media. Next, “One-night Food Trip” is a program where different kinds of celebrities are traveling the globe, eating as many local foods as possible in one day. “Float when we’re together” (Mungcheoya ddeunda), is an entertainment program about husbands in their 40’s on a package trip who have forgotten to have “time for themselves” while living for their family. The “Battle Trip” is a traveling program, in which the subjects are traveling countries with a theme. It shows viewers diverse ways to travel. Plus, “Yoon’s Kitchen” is about a Korean restaurant that opened on an island in Bali. Not only are these TV programs related to YOLO. There are much more, like “Weekends in the woods”.
The cultural sensation, YOLO is a revolution to the older generation. In the past, preparing for the bigger happiness of the future was thought more important than enjoying the present. However, because of social anxiety and uncertainty, living life subjectively in the now became crucial. Then what are the benefits of YOLO? People can concentrate more on their lives. Because of the limited life they have, the YOLOs actually view their lives in a more positive perspective. They believe that devoting their resources on the now will bring a better tomorrow. They also prepare for the future, for example, setting short term and long term goals like saving money. Therefore, the activity is not just an act for entertainment but an act for future assets.
Even though YOLO life has some positive sides, the trend is not always optimistic. YOLO life has its limitations as well. First of all, if people do not have proper preparations for the future, they can meet economic difficulties or failures in the future. The representative example of that is traveling. Most of us know that traveling is fascinating. Traveling can give you various experiences and help you learn new things. In some television programs such as Yoon’s Kitchen, cast members seem happy, enjoying leisurely things in a new place. People hop on a plane impulsively to enjoy a happy life like them. However, reality hits you hard. People lose money easily because of high prices, and some even miss proper time to find a position with no job qualifications. One cannot go back to the past since you only live once. So, you should widen your thoughts throughout your life to judge carefully. You must think of your current consumptions and the effects of those for the future.
Second, the meaning of YOLO is being spoiled into a rationale for impulsive buying. If you search ‘YOLO’ on the internet, you can find various YOLO marketing and merchandise such as YOLO makeup, YOLO diet, YOLO fashion, and even YOLO buffet. Those advertisements say that if you do not buy our products, you are wasting your one and only life. And people give money to that stuff, believing that buying it will make them happy. However, simply buying merchandise does not mean happiness. It could make you feel happy for a moment, but that does not last long. One should not be confused by spending money to solve stress with YOLO life.
Lastly, people can feel the widening gap between the rich and the poor because of YOLO. Whether traveling or taking a small luxury, you must have that much money to enjoy it. Some people travel by using deposits for the future, but what about the people who do not have that amount of savings? Those people feel deprivation. "One day suddenly one million won"(a television show in Korea) is an example. In the television program, cast members were asked to spend one million won for the show. People in that show went to Cebu or America using that money. However, after it broadcasted, the show has had many criticisms from people who felt deprivation because of the show. Even though it is natural to feel deprivation, one should not be buried in this negative feeling.
The reason for these limitations is because people chase after the happy moments with no self-examination. Yolo is not simply an act of fulfilling one’s worldly desires or activities to relieve stress, but it is also about implementing one’s values. So, individuals should find their own ways to be happy in a wise way. Simply buying things or investing in burdensome leisure time does not mean happiness. A book or a meditative walk might be a YOLO lifestyle for some people. Stop comparing yourself to other people’s happiness, and find your own happiness by thinking about your own values and pursuits. Also, media should not always show traveling or buying stuff as a happy YOLO life. Rather, they should show other ways to enjoy a happy YOLO life as well. Also, governments should stabilize the society. They should stabilize prices and raise the employment rate so that people can enjoy the present moment while preparing for the future.
If you think YOLO life does not suit you, there are other lifestyles besides YOLO. Here are some of the lifestyles besides YOLO life. First, Hygge life. Hygge means comfort, or warm in Danish. Hygge people enjoy relaxing with good people in a cozy, comfortable atmosphere. They empty their minds and feel thankful for small things. Second, Kinfolk life. Kinfolk life originated from the magazine ‘Kinfolk’. This magazine is about a life of pursuing an eco-friendly and healthy lifestyle. Kinfolk life follows the ideology of the magazine Kinfolk. Kinfolk people share home-made foods from their garden with their friends. And lastly, Danshari life. Danshari is a three kanji character meaning refusal, disposal, and separation. Danshari people cut off unnecessary things in everyday life and enjoy minimalistic lives. There are more lifestyles than these three lifestyles, but no matter what that lifestyle is, desiring to live a happy life is a common feature.
Yolo is a new lifestyle which reflects the current social phenomenon. Even though people feel hopelessness and suffering, people find an escape through YOLO life. Why don’t you try YOLO life in this fleeting moment? It can make you cherish your today enjoyably
by Yu-jin Ahn, CP Reporter/Kyung-yoon Seo, CUB Reporter
Yu-jin Ahn, CP Reporter email@example.com
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