I’m not a Progressive. At all. I don’t favor censorship. I believe that the principles of free-market capitalism are so intrinsic to this world that they can even be applied to non-economic areas of social interaction. I support liberty and always will… BUT, I think it’s time we eradicate a couple of phrases from the English lexicon, permanently.
Language is the barometer of a civilization’s intellect. The more creative, industrious, and intellectual a civilization is, the richer its language. Conversely, the more menial and banal the civilization becomes, its changing language becomes a reflection of that.
Imagine yourself, a lonely Sherpa from the mountains of Nepal. Aside from the occasional rich Yankee who hires you to schlep his bags from base camp to peak and back, you might not have much exposure to American culture. Now imagine that you save up your rupees for years until you can afford to buy a television with Chromecast. While you’re catching up on your favorite American television shows and sports events, what would become readily apparent is that we are a nation of idiots who all say the same things.
One of the first things you’d hear is the phrase, “It is what it is.” Has there ever, in the history of the spoken word, been a more idiotic phrase than this? It conveys zero information. I don’t know one iota more than I did before I heard these words and yet this phrase is parroted far and wide. The funny thing is that whenever these wise words are spoken, the listener often nods thoughtfully, as if contemplating some existential truth. I know that “It is what it is” is meant to suggest a zen-like stoicism in the face of adversity, but it doesn’t. It makes you sound like a dillweed and indicates you would have trouble in a mental tug-of-war with The Situation from Jersey Shore.
The second cultural indicator with which you would be barraged in your Sherpa-Pad is “YOLO”. It has nothing to do with the Smothers Brothers or a green Jedi Master. The acronym stands for “You Only Live Once” and much like “It is what it is”, this phrase is legion. You’ll find it everywhere from Twitter, to clothing, to restaurants. Not only is this meme annoying, but it is foolish. The same mentality which seizes YOLO as a transformational motto is the same mentality which is drawn to technological entities like SnapChat, which is a messaging application which allows you to send a temporary message that is deleted permanently after a few seconds.
The recurrent theme with these two rabidly-popular cultural phenomena is the jettisoning of inhibition. The underlying message really is, “The future doesn’t matter and there is nothing beyond this existence”. This is nothing new, just new packaging. The call to ignore your conscience in favor of immediate gratification is as old as dirt. It’s just been given a sheen of romantic fatalism and main-lined into the social media hivemind via #YOLO.
The troubling aspect of this virulent meme is its glorification of impulsivity. Given the downward trending development of the average American teenager, the lionization of YOLO should serve both as a troubling bellwether of hazards ahead as well as a confirmation of damage already done. Generations of Americans are being deliberately stripped of the ability to recognize or utilize logic, thanks to Big Education. At the same time, rapacious ad agencies and media moguls are filling their minds with insatiable, materialist lust. Along comes YOLO and Snapchat to offer the penultimate justification: “Not only should you rid yourself of outdated moral parameters, but it’s time to eat and drink for tomorrow we die.”