The good, the bad and the just plain stupid. The truth behind the #YOLO culture.

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As a generation of online networking fiends, we have adopted the motto ‘You Only Live Once.’ But what does it mean? For people who have the phrase tattooed to their foreheads (yes, I have seen this happen), it seems to mean ‘you only live once so behave in as ludicrous a manner as possible.’ But to me, it speaks more of 21st Century possibilities and the adaptive attitudes of 90’s babies.

Technological Advancement – Power and Responsibility

Nothing is certain anymore. In an era of constant adaptation and ever-expanding possibilities, we all demand bigger, better and faster technology. We are the generation that grew up with near-constant change. We listened to tapes in battery powered walkmans; then we saved our pocket money for portable CD players (remember how still you had to keep them to stop the CD skipping?) Now, we have itunes, Spotify and magical clouds which store music in the atmosphere like raindrops – (okay, so I may not understand icloud all that well.) The point is, we are the generation of technological advancement, but, unless we learn how to cope with the endless possibilities presented to us by technology and the internet, the effects can be damaging. As all Generation Y individuals are aware, ‘With great power, comes great responsibility.’

Self Loathing and the Power of Social Media

On to social media – yes it’s positive for business, connectivity and immediate correspondence, but let’s be honest, like #YOLO, most of us don’t understand it. We have been given a gift that we cannot control. Everything, and I mean, everything, appears online these days. Most of our pre-teen heartache can be found on Bebo somewhere, buried not-too-deeply in the recesses of our past, amongst selfies and song lyrics which we feel ‘represent us.’ When we go out, get drunk and do something stupid, our regret and shame will inevitably be captured with the latest Smartphone and uploaded to Facebook before we can order another Snakebite. When an unfortunate young girl was caught on camera engaging in oral sex at an Eminem concert recently, the image went viral, with the hashtag #SlaneGirl. There is no escape. I’m willing to bet that Generation X made just as many mistakes as us, but they had the fortune to make them at a time when they were gossiped about for a day amongst friends, then swiftly forgotten.

Social Media is also a platform for cyber-bullying, allowing culprits to remain anonymous. Even if we’re not directly picked on, we are bombarded by images of celebrity’s and friend’s thigh-gaps, (or ‘thelfies’), which, by the way, are only achievable through genetic predispositions or extreme malnourishment. We begin to loathe ourselves and our own bodies because we are constantly surrounded by evidence of other’s achievements. For Generation Y, a size 6 has become more desirable than the size 10 which was the ultimate goal for our parents. We need to rise above this, and use Instagram as it was originally intended – as a stage for sharing images of activities, new hair cuts and friends, not for photos of our ‘bikini bridges.’

#YOLO – Owning the Possibilities

Last year, over 1000 graduates applied for just 8 jobs in Costa, some of which were part-time, proving the competiveness of the job industry for Generation Y. But it’s not all bad. In an age of constant change and improvement, schools are preparing children for jobs that don’t even exist yet. We can sculpt our own futures, create our own jobs and make our own way. The endless possibilities social media platforms and technological advancement have opened up are paramount to this. We’re surrounded by opportunity; it’s all there for the taking, as long as we’re aware of the negatives too. With any luck, by the time Generation Z are old enough to make stupid mistakes, they’ll have learned how to use social media responsibly.

Surely, if you only live once, live well and without regret.

This blog post recently featured on ReadWave.com about Generation Y, taking an indepth look at the #YOLO culture that we all (whether willingly or not) inhabit.

Please take a look at the blog, and, if you agree with my views on our society, click ‘like’!

Mari xx

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