Live! A Dilettante Manifesto

yoloThis is my response to the YOLO crowd:

Life is a series of moments and experiences.

Live those moments; don’t fucking Instagram them.

Enjoy that concert, that sunset, your dinner.

Put your camera down and live, because once that moment is gone, it’s gone forever.

Trust me, the rest of us will be okay without a picture of your dessert.

While you were busy trying to choose the right filter for it, I ate it — it was delicious.

Put your phone down and re-discover the art of conversation that doesn’t use LOL-speak or smiley faces.

Laugh out loud.

Show the world your smiley face.

Put down your phone and enjoy the person you’re with.

Demand that they do the same, and show you the respect and attention you deserve.


Create something.

Stop dressing up in other peoples’ clothes and make your own mark on this world.

Do you really want to be remembered for cosplaying as your favourite anime character and writing Vampire Diaries fan fiction?


Try something new.

Fail spectacularly.

Get up and try something else.

Write poetry just for you.

Paint a picture no one will ever see.


Hug someone.

Say something nice to someone face to face.

It’s easy to be cruel on the Internet — it’s also easy to give praise in cyberspace.

Tell someone in person how much you love them, and their smile will be worth more to you than 1,000 ‘Likes’ on some Facebook comment.

Give some of yourself to someone else, and you will change their world.

If you want to help fight Cancer or poverty or AIDS or whatever’s trending on Twitter this week, visit a Cancer ward and hold a dying person’s hand, buy a homeless person a sandwich, hug someone who’s sick. Sacrificing your time and giving of yourself will make more of a difference in the fight against ‘Whatever’ than a million re-posts of some Internet meme.

Taking a selfie of yourself with no makeup on is not a sacrifice. It’s a nice gesture, but that and a buck-fifty will get you a cheap cup of coffee and nothing much more.

You only live once — do you really want the nicest thing that people say about you when you’re gone is that you always re-posted #causes on Facebook and Twitter?

Put down your phone.

Get off of Facebook.

Go for a walk.

Stop living vicariously though others and realize your own potential.



29 responses to “Live! A Dilettante Manifesto

  1. Every time I see one of those YOLO things, I have no idea what the point is. It’s usually eating huge meals or something stupid. I guess the goals of the younger generations are rather simple.

    • Ah, the goals of “young people” have always been ridiculous. I’m sure you engaged in silliness in your younger days, and I don’t begrudge people that — I just think that someone needs to step up and remind people that there is life outside their four walls, and to enjoy it.

  2. I never knew what yolo meant, I left the country awhile before that trend. But I met a buddy of mine down here, and he is all about yolo. Everything is yolo. But he lives a pretty adventurous life where it’s not just bullshit like getting wasted or eating lots of food. So I guess it can be used in a positive way.

  3. My husband just turned 60 and I turned 53 last year. We have recently redone our wills and I wrote my own obituary. In it I wrote a letter to my loved ones. I also wrote what YOLO means to me and what it can mean for you. Maybe I’ll post it someday, or somebody will for me. In the meanwhile…I am going to keep doing what I am doing.

  4. Nice. Computers, phones and the internet are useful tools but they shouldn’t become a way of life (speaks the computer programmer, but you know what I mean).

    • I saw a great video floating around about “looking up from your phone”. We have become addicted. I’m hooked, myself. I’m joining a group. We’re going to meet at the bar.

  5. Nice post Helena. I have always wondered why the phrase YOLO is always associated with self indulgence or a concern for others that is stated in some clichéd manner. Yeah put the phone down and eat the damn thing. Leave me out of it.

  6. I can’t quite remember what YOLO is an an acronym for either, but I know what it’s about. Indeed. Live your life – it can disappear way too fast. Might as well enjoy the ride up close and personal, rather than vicariously, through a lens.

    • Take a great picture, write a great story, sing a great song — or try all three and fail spectacularly, but stop regurgitating the same nonsense as everybody else. If I see one more duck face, I’m going to vomit myself. Okay, I’ve spent my five minutes on here. I’m off to work.

  7. I agree with most of this, except the cancer thing. The no-makeup selfie went viral really quickly, which was a great (and free) way of marketing for that charity. Along with the no-makeup selfie’s went a phone number. Most of the people who posted no makeup selfie’s also texted a donation to that number. Cancer research Uk received over 800,000 donations, taking in more than £1million in just 24 hours. That’s more than a cheap cup of coffee.

    I found your blogging the other day, I’ve been catching up with some of your old adventures, and they are all hilarious. Definitely buying your book when I get paid 🙂

    • There’s no doubt that globally/collectively, it was successful — my point was more that it wasn’t really a sacrifice of time or self, but participants are being lauded as heroes, for taking ten seconds to take a picture and post a phone number. I think it can be a much more rewarding experience for both the giver and the recipient if something personal and tangible is done.

      Thank you for reading – I do hope you are entertained.

  8. I think YOLO is dumb but I am an instagram lover lol. I find myself so old I barely remember the cruise I took last year but once I see my pictures I can remember the sound of the ocean, the smell of the air, my husbands rare smile… The pictures are the prompt to my memories 🙂

    But…I agree give the people you are with the time they deserve…it only takes a second to click a pic 🙂

  9. Very powerful and inspiring. I was extremely late hearing about YOLO, as I don’t spend much time in social media and such. It wasn’t until some SNL skit mentioned it that I figured I might as well google the thing. I honestly feel like I’ve been born in the wrong generation because I just look around at my cohorts and think, “Really? That’s what you think life is all about?” Sure, I’m not perfect by any means, and I don’t make the best use of my time some days. However, I don’t post daily selfies and hashtag every fleeting thought. It just seems like we’ve turned into such an egocentric, technologically-dependent society. It’s scary. Luckily, there are people like you to spread the wise words! Thank you for writing this!

    • Some day I think the Internet is the pool that we stare at, and that we will eventually, like Narcissus, fall in and drown. We are so in love with ourselves it’s pathetic.

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