8/30/2012
#YOLO

This blog entry was originally published on Tick-Talkative, a blog on the twenty-something edited by Isa Rodriguez - and perhaps the only place where my thoughts would collide with those of two former crushes - earlier today. This was originally written two days ago. This version has the links and the formatting - for some reason, the italics didn't make the final cut there.

Apart from a few times when I can claim to be one of the first to know something - most of which happened during a past life as an American television pundit - I'm often late when it comes to trends. It took me a year to join Friendster, two to join Facebook, and three to join Twitter, although to be fair, I considered joining that site when I was still in college, but didn't because I thought I wouldn't have time to tweet.

Yes, I can be terribly late. I don't spend my time watching trends, more so following them. You won't find me falling in line at the newly-opened milk tea store just so I can tell my friends that I've had a noun and it's an adjective. (I'm not saying I'm beneath trying something new, though; I just tend to wait until the crowds dry up, because one of the worst things about living in the metropolis is having to deal with a multitude of people who want to be first.) I don’t scour the Internet for the latest budding meme or the next big catch phrase, and I certainly don't have the urge to do something just because everybody else is. Had milk tea? Check. Rant against Globe? Nah, no problems here. Shot your friends with laser guns? I have nobody to shoot.

One of those clueless moments came a couple of weeks ago, when I found my Twitter timeline inundated with this one hashtag: #YOLO. A new battle cry, I assume. A new, meaningless, yet loaded battle cry. Or maybe the name of some reality celebrity's baby, I don’t know.

"Ano nga bang ibig sabihin ng YOLO?" I asked a friend who just used it, perhaps for the first time.

"You only live once," he said.

Apparently some rapper guy said that word - it's a word, apparently, not just an abbreviation - in one of his songs. "Yolo!" Like "yo" with an extra syllable. I guess that's the in thing nowadays. Anyway, I sound like a pedant. Yolo. "Yolo". You only live once. I guess that rapper guy explained what his gibberish utterance meant. I don't know. I don't listen to pop radio anymore, what with crass presenters and limited selections.

"Ah, why should I listen to you?" Hypothetical Radio Executive tells me. "You're not an ordinary listener. And besides, what you call shit programming attracts a lot of people. We can't go after you when we have all these people behind our tails. We have to be successful. We have to be profitable. We have to keep this up. Yolo."

My brother used that hashtag one night. He sat in front of a computer, on the last night of a long weekend, and decided that he'll wing one of his reaction papers. He spent the weekend playing basketball and texting people and, you know, pretty much acting like it's the weekend. And after all that, he has a paper to write and, I guess, no idea what to do. "My paper only has two pages," he tweeted, and by that I assume he has to submit at least five. And then he used that so-called word. "Yolo."

And then it dawns on me. You only live once, so why worry about the small stuff? Perfectly sensible thing to say, if only because everybody else is saying it. Go, make mistakes. Fine. People have told me that a few times. "Don't worry if you don't get things right," they’d say. "What's important is that you learned from those mistakes." But no. That's not what people are thinking exactly. You only live once, so why worry about the small stuff? All right. In fact, why worry about anything at all? Umm, okay, go on. Just do what you want. Everything that you want, at least once. You might never get the chance to do it again.

Hypothetical Mother: "Anak, huwag kang magdu-drugs, ha? Masama 'yun."
Hypothetical Son: "'Nay, experience rin 'yun! Yolo."
Hypothetical Mother: "Anong kagaguhan yang yolo na 'yan?"

A few years ago I decided to try my luck as a writer. There was an open try-out of sorts for the Philippine Star's Supreme section - you know, that one edited by Tim Yap, less said about him, the better - and I went along with a friend. One of the things we were asked to do is to write about something we passionately believed in. I did not have an idea what to write about. Damn it, I thought, I should have come prepared. After three minutes, I started writing a slightly impassioned 50-word aside on being very sure about something before you take a plunge.

Obviously I did not make the cut. I remember Tim Yap being a bit patronizing and telling us that we did well, we can still contribute, yada, yada, yada. While envious that a familiar face - not my friend's, but someone else, one with official "writer" status of some sorts - got through, I was thinking that my 50-word aside doomed my chances. After all, have you met a pop culture expert of some sorts who was very cautious about which thing to dip his feet into? How can I become one if I refused to check out those milk tea places (until a few months ago) because I thought they’re overpriced compared to Chowking's long-standing offering?

I don't remember what I wrote at all, but I'll try recreating it here anyway. Maybe I'll do it better this time.

If there's one thing I believe in, it's making sure you're doing the right thing before actually doing it. Everybody keeps on saying "just do it" nowadays. They just get in there and do things without thinking about the consequences. "Bah, who cares?" they go. "Just go have fun!" I want to have fun too, but it's not fun dealing with the fallout that might result. Call me a guy who doesn't get anything done, but there's no better happiness than knowing that you've weighed your options, made the best choice, and know that nothing wrong will happen, at least for a while.

Okay, that didn't work. It’s more than fifty words. More than a hundred. And I definitely didn't write it like this. Then again, it’s been almost three years since I took a stab at defining my philosophy in life: to not be reckless about things, to make sure you're doing the right thing before you do.

Only I'm not doing exactly that. I've been known for doing some rash decisions - mostly purchases, really - and when it comes to the more important stuff I feel I've been left behind. I liked someone. It took me two years to say something - although, to be fair, she did have a boyfriend at the time. I think.

But imagine just telling her that I love her, or maybe just like her - see what I mean? - without thinking things through, without knowing what you should do once you tell her everything, without a back-up plan for when you inadvertently pin all your hopes in that one announcement and everything falls apart, just because I should take chances, I should do one thing that scares me every day, I should not think of the consequences and just let things be, because I only live once, yolo, yolo, yoloooo! Bullshit. And yeah, maybe things could have gone well, but they haven't, and I haven't said a single word yet, as far as I know. So, no, I'll stick with my philosophy. Don't be reckless. Think things through. Take forever if you have to. Just don't take the plunge for the sake of taking a plunge. And all of you teenagers, you may not want regrets of the "what if" kind, but that's better than an actual problem on your hands.

And your responses...

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