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May 24, 2012
Precious YOLO moments

May the Best, Short-Lived Acronym Win

So, I have a handful of hipsters who are my facebook “friends.”  I honestly don’t know where some of these people came from, or how or why I felt the need to add them in the first place.  But, they’re there.  And they say things, as hipsters tend to do on facebook.  They actually say a LOT of things. I’m fairly certain some of them can’t so much as buy a Coke Zero without informing the facebook universe of their epic beverage purchase (“we don’t buy Coke Zero anymore because Scott Pilgrim made it all commercialized” … shut your fucking hipster mouth).  Lately, the talk around the hipster camp has been about the death of the phrase YOLO.  It was apparently being horribly overused, which was news to me as I have YET to actually hear someone SAY it, outside of some hipsters on my facebook.

With the death of YOLO, I feel I can offer a brief retrospective on the life and death of this great phrase.  You see, in my day, we lived through a similar short lived acronym… GIGO.  I was there for the rise and fall of that wonderful saying.  I felt the tug on my heart as I was forced to let GIGO disappear from my vernacular.  It was overused.  It was played out.  It was disheartening and I missed it terribly, but its time had come.   So, which was the better acronym?  Which term will be fondly remembered in the annals of spoken language?  Let’s begin the breakdown.

The Meaning Behind the Acronym

GIGO came into its heyday in the late 80s and early 90s as an expression originally used by computer programmers.  It stands for Garbage In, Garbage Out.  Every part of a computer program receives input, processes it, and generates output.  So the meaning behind this phrase comes from that.  Even with a perfectly functioning computer program, if the input is garbage, then the output will also be garbage.  The primary function of this phrase was to use instead of “ask a stupid question…” if someone asked you something you found stupid, and you gave a stupid answer.  Or if someone responded to something you said with a stupid response, you’d say “GIGO huh?”  From there, it blossomed to people saying “wow, that is SO GIGO” for any piece of 80s pop culture trash (which, frankly, there was a LOT of).  It also was used in place of “you are what you eat.”

YOLO stands for You Only Live Once.  It means (obviously) that you should just DO what you’ve been wanting to do, because you don’t get a reset button in life.  Its usage, so far as I witnessed it on facebook, was usually like this:

Hipster 1: Oh, angst!  Angsty angst!  I SO want to ask that one rail thin pale skinned hipsterchick out, but I don’t think she’s into me.

Hipster 2: Yolo, bro.  Yolo.

Hipster 1: Orly?  Think I should?

Hipster 2: YOLO!

Hipster 1: I’m going for it!

Then, usually, the next day, Hipster 1 would update his status to say something about how some people shouldn’t toy with other people’s emotions or some such nonsense.  Anyway, you get the picture.  For pure flexibility of usage, I’ll give the edge in this category to YOLO.  You find many more opportunities to say “you only live once” than you do to say, “garbage in, garbage out.”

Life Span

GIGO came to life out of the mouths of computer programmers.  That, in and of itself, is pretty amazing, considering the fact that there were hardly ANY computer programmers before the 80s, and that these people were generally on the outside of society (says the former computer programmer).  So it took a pretty long time for this phrase to gain any traction.  I think I started saying it sometime around 1988 and it seemed to be everywhere in 1992, so that’s about a full five year lifespan BEFORE it began dying off.

YOLO came to life in 2011 and died in early 2012.  Seriously.  What the fuck is that??  Well, I suspect that part of the problem was that the phrase came from hipsters.  Basically, part of the hipster credo (such as I can decipher it) is the fact that things are only cool if nobody ELSE knows it’s cool.  So, YOLO was incredibly cool when it first appeared on the scene, because everyone would ask “what the fuck does that mean?”  But, the moment everyone knew what it meant, and nobody was asking any more, the phrase became instantly uncool.

For life span, obviously, GIGO wins hands down.


GIGO had inherent issues in this department.  Looking at the letters, it could either be pronounced “guy go” or “gig go.”  Add to that the fact that “gig” was a phrase which was on the rise in computer speak (gigabytes were, in fact, well in the future, but they were the goal of EVERYTHING programmers were doing) and you can see the issue.  I said “guy go” … I had a friend who said “gig go” … we ACTUALLY FUCKING ARGUED ABOUT THIS.  Seriously.  Like the only argument I can ever remember us having was over this.  His point was that the word ‘in’ (which is the I in GIGO) has the same phonetic sound as the ‘i’ in “gig go.”  I countered that if we were pronouncing the vowels the way they were in the original WORDS, it would be “gig ow.”  Holy monkey balls, I wonder if anyone ever pronounced it that way?

YOLO has one pronunciation, “yo low.”  That’s it.  No confusion, no debate.  Yo.  Looooow.

YOLO wins here.


GIGO wins here.  Seriously, GIGO is an incredibly original phrase.  It’s origin was unusual.  It was cleverly used.  It was the first acronym I can think of to take spoken language by storm.  YOLO, on the other hand, has been popular before.  Seriously!  Remember after the film Dead Poets Society came out?  EVERYONE was saying “carpe diem!” everywhere they went.  Well, maybe you’re a young hipster and you don’t remember this.  I do.  And YOLO is just a retread of the phrase carpe diem.

Fabulous Flame Outs

YOLO is going to win this category.  I can already tell you that, with the immediacy of social media and the awesomeness of photoshop, there is no way a phrase from the 80s and 90s could compete in this arena.  Still, both are fun to look at.  First, the demise of GIGO (which, in the absence of social media, took place in the regular old media).

Some old cartoon

Awesome "Laptop"

This laptop is so awesome it fucking hurts. I want this! The 5.5″ screen! The dirty beige trackball! OMFG!

Okay, frankly, you don’t really get how “everywhere” this phrase was from these examples.  The problem is, it’s hard, now, to find examples of it from then.  But, with the proliferation of the interwebs, it’s EASY PEASEY to find examples of YOLO.  Go ahead.  Google image search.  From mine, I was able to find a complete life cycle of the phrase:


From humble inception…

Yolo?  Detention!

…To utter saturation …

Even Yoda does OOYL

…To clever spin-offs (see also: You Obviously Love Oreos) …

Precious YOLO moments

… To annoyance …

Sam Jackson deals with hipsters in his own special way

… To even greater annoyance …

The death of YOLO

… To resignation.

Kitsch Value

I’m going to go out on a limb and proclaim YOLO has absolutely NO kitsch value.  In other words, twenty years from now, nobody’s going to be thinking wistfully back upon those magical 5 months when everyone was saying YOLO.  GIGO, however, could actually make a comeback.  In fact, GIGO has reared it’s head from time to time since its public demise.

Modern GIGO

If you call it Obamacare, then you, my friend, are spewing GIGO

Latin baby clothes?  Only if they mean GIGO!

Okay, technically I suppose using “purgamentum init, exit purgamentum” as an example of the resurgence of GIGO is the equivalent of calling a “carpe diem” t-shirt the return of YOLO. But it’s still awesome. It’s on a BABY people!

Final Score



While this SEEMS like a tie, in the end the fact of the matter is this: GIGO was the original.  It was too unusual not to win this.  People have been saying “you only live once” for years.  And before that they said “Thou only hast one life to liveth!” or some such thing.  And before that there was, as already pointed out, the Latin based version.  GIGO, on the other hand, was entirely unique from its inception.  All of a sudden, people were calling things GIGO out of the blue, and it was awesome.

Oh, wait.  Hear that?  Somewhere a hipster just whispered the word GIGO with awe.  Holy shit.  It’s happening, people!  It’s happening!

PS: No.  This isn’t the blog I was talking about writing.  I have, however, been inundated with images of annoyance/resignation dealing with the demise of YOLO lately, and have had this puppy on the back burner for some time.  I decided to roll it out today.  Get over it.

PPS: Okay.  I was REALLY tired when I finally posted this.  I came back later and looked at the final score, which at the time read GIGO: 3, YOLO: 2 and I thought that’s odd… when I was writing this in my head, the final score came out 4-3 in favor of GIGO. I did a recount and somewhere I lost a category and ended this thing in a tie.  What’s worse… I can’t for the LIFE of me remember what the 7th category I had worked out in my head could have been!  Where’s my mind?  For now, I fixed the score to 3-3.  I’m leaving this as it is.  It’s a tie, but GIGO wins.  Makes sense, right?


From → Blogs

  1. The kitsch value was really what sold me. (As if I weren’t already sold before.) If it doesn’t make you all misty-eyed when you say it, like “you got it, dude” from back in my day, then it’s not worth your time.

  2. You got it, dude!

    I also, through your page, ended up reading that rant about Goatee or whatever that freak show’s name is. It was definitely Trash-a-hipster Thursday. Awesome… that’s the best day of the week (or was that pizza day?? Sweet, I managed an Aquabats reference!)

  3. My favorite is the “OOYL” from Yoda! Funny post!

  4. Absolutely… although, when factoring in the whole ‘when 900 years old you reach’ coupled with who knows how many years spent as an apparition looking over Luke’s shoulder… all I’m saying is that he could have totally lived OOYL and my own procrastinator lifestyle at the same time.

  5. If you want to hate YOLO more, Zac Efron has it tattooed on him for a “reminder.” Just saying. In case he forgets that he is alive. You know, while looking at it. Tool. Please don’t ask how I know this.

    • Oh, I know he does. When Looking up pictures for YOLO I came upon his tattooed YOLO hand, and I almost included it in my blog. But then I wanted people to read my blog and not simply look at the Zac Efron picture, close my blog in disgust, and never look at it again.

      Do you think Zac Effron knows what an amazing tool of douchbaggery he is, and doesn’t care, or is he just SUCH a tool he has no clue. Because, if he’s just such a complete asshat to simply not care, then I might hold some small sliver of respect for him. If he’s that big of an industrial sized douche and completely clueless to the fact… that makes me hate him so much more.

  6. jennsomethingclever permalink

    …and now I’m terrified that GIGO is metahip because the hipsters don’t know it’s cool. Right?

    • I hadn’t considered that… though the term ‘metahip’ jumped out of that statement and just hit me with the full force of its awesomeness and I’m completely in love with that word now.

      • jennsomethingclever permalink

        Thank you. I write with my heart.

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