HOW far are young people willing to go these days to get attention on social media? For a lot of them, the answer’s probably “all the way”.

That seems to be where this whole #YOLO (“you only live once”) culture seems to come from. Everyone wants to be seen as living large, which drives them to do crazy things on a whim and justify it by saying it’s better to live in the now than to live in regret.

Personally, the whole #YOLO thing appealed to me at first because it was like this Gen-Y version of “carpe diem”. The older generation would always say “youth is wasted on the young”, so it seemed like a good response.

But over time, I started realising that people my age were just using it as an excuse to do perfectly stupid things, stuff that would really make you realise that the truth is, you can live every day, but you only die once, and that’s it. That’s what young people should probably focus on.

How’s this for a perfect example – aspiring rapper Ervin McKinnes, died in a car crash in 2012 after tweeting that he was drunk driving. Guess how he ended the tweet? With a #YOLO hashtag.

The car he and his four friends were in was speeding at online slots 200km/h. It ran a red light, lost control, slammed into a wall and ended up in the backyard of someone’s home. All four of them died in the crash.

And just a couple months back, a couple on vacation in Portugal fell to their death while taking a selfie a little too close to the edge of a cliff. News sites had a field day with the tragic, but the fact that it got so much coverage online shows just how interested people are in this selfie-taking, #YOLO-ing culture – whether they love it or hate it.

Young people today will jump at every opportunity to experience excitement and enjoyment, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to live life to the fullest. But just remember – the more accurate motto should be “you only die once”, so try not to die before your time.

The writer is a member of the BRATs young journalist programme. To find out more, go to


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