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The tragically millennial vocabulary of the Sam Bankman-Fried trial

Photo illustration of Sam Bankman-Fried, Caroline Ellison, Gary Wang, and Nishad Singh among imagery of courtrooms, finance, circuit boards, and server rooms.
These people were adults. This is how adults talk now. | Photo Illustration by Cath Virginia / The Verge | Photos by Michael M. Santiago, Bloomberg, Klmax, Whyframestudio, Yevgen Romanenko, Pixhook, Peter Dazeley, Jimkruger, Getty Images

It is one thing to type the world YOLO, jokingly, on Beyoncé’s internet. It is another thing entirely to hear it explained in a court of law. The trial of Sam Bankman-Fried has been, in its vocabulary, tragically millennial. (Disclosure: I am also a millennial.)

Christian Drappi, a former Alameda software engineer, was put in the position of explaining YOLO — “you only live once” — as well as the phrase “a YOLO thing” to anyone who might be unfamiliar. He was testifying about a recording of an Alameda all-hands meeting in which Caroline Ellison, then the CEO of Alameda, confessed to taking FTX customer funds. In the recording, Drappi said “I’m sure this wasn’t, like, a YOLO thing” in response to the confession.

Asked about the phrase,…

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