The Apocalypse Effect: under the red, white, and YOLO

By The Beacon | September 26, 2013 1:24am

By Tori Dunlap |

“Live like there’s no tomorrow.” This phrase seems to be more and more prevalent in pop culture with every passing day. Too tired to go out partying with your friends? Too bad, because tonight’s the night to live it up, and you better do it while you’re still young (and alive). Pop culture has made it clear that you are aging at an alarmingly fast rate, and every artist from One Direction to Rihanna is driving this point home.

  1. “We Are Young” by Fun. feat. Janelle Monae.
This is our generation’s anthem. You cannot sing this song quietly, nor can you really sing it at all; it must be screamed at the top of your lungs with a group of your best friends. Full of drug references, a thumping drum beat and a strange suggestion of sending our planet Earth up in flames, this song seemed to start the YOLO movement. “Toniiiiiiiggggggggghhhhhtttt, we are young!” Not tomorrow, not next year, but tonight. You only live once, and you only have tonight to make your life count.
  1. “Die Young” by Ke$ha
You gotta love the offer to celebrate good times, c’mon. In true Ke$ha form, we are encouraged to party like it’s 2013. Ke$ha described the concept of the song “living each and every single day like it's your last and to always have a youthful spirit.” Great advice, except when persuading everyone to steal someone else’s guy, take shots, and find a certain “magic,” if ya know what I mean.
  1. “Right Now” by Rihanna
Our girl RiRi is backing up KE-dollar-sign-HA with her advice to live it up, because we only have this one second before WE ALL DIE IN A ROBOT INVASION OR A KILLER TORNADO OR A HUNGER GAMES. “Tomorrow is way too far way,” she sings, “and we can’t get back yesterday, but we young right now … Turn it up, scream it loud, Yeah.” Nothing like turning up your music and shrieking to make your neighbors call the cops.
  1. “Live While We’re Young” by One Direction
Like the rest of the songs, the YOLO mentality is ever-present. We’re gonna stay up all night, throw each other in a kiddie pool, have a penalty kicking contest and “get some” (or as Radio Disney likes to put it, “get dumb”).  But we’re gonna do it with all of our best friends forever that we just met, and then call our real friends and make them jealous that we got to hang with five foreign cuties from a boy band all night.

You can see the Apocalypse Effect elsewhere too: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s summer hit “Can’t Hold Us,” Pitbull’s “Feel This Moment,” and with the Y.O.L.O. sketch from SNL (hellllloooo Adam Levine!)  As college students, we are repeatedly thrown into this lifestyle of “do now, think later.”  I don’t know how many times I have been told by an adult, “College? That was the best four years of my life! I remember that time I glued pillow feathers all over my body for Halloween!” (Or maybe this is just my dad.) But I think the best advice I can give is to live in the moment, but realize that that one moment may show up on Facebook tomorrow.

Tori Dunlap is an Organizational Communication/Drama double major.  You can reach her @