Like

Anyone know what the world record is for the number of times sneezing in a row? I think I broke it. The record, not my nose. I have a head cold.

Speaking of counting things, let’s talk about “like.” I don’t mean the Facebook Like and I don’t mean your general, every day like, as in “I like ice cream” or “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing.” This is the other one.

I was sitting in the Barnes & Noble cafe, minding my own business, drinking a grande hot chai with a shot of vanilla when I happened to overhear the young woman at the table next to me talking on the phone. She was talking to a friend about what her dad expects from her. Apparently she was upset because her father expects her, at the age she is, to have certain things in life and be doing certain things in life. There was a lot of talk about feelings, the kind of explanation you might get from a girl in high school who draws hearts on the front of her textbook or a young woman in her sophomore year at a college with a lot of safe spaces. At one point she mentioned she was 25 years old.

I decided to count how many times she said “like” in five minutes. I glanced at my Timex and silently said “go” to myself and counted. Total tally? 44 times. 44 times in 5 minutes! How many times is that a minute? You do the math. (No, seriously, you do the math, I’m terrible at it.)

What would happen if a bunch of “likes” were actually written in one paragraph?

I was, like, sitting in the Barnes & Noble cafe, minding my own business, drinking, like, a grande hot chai with a shot of vanilla when I happened to overhear the young woman at the table next to me talking on the phone. She was, like, talking to a friend about what her dad expects from her. Apparently she was, like, upset because her father expects her, at the age she is, to have, like, certain things in life and be doing certain things in life. There was, like, a lot of talk about feelings, the kind of explanation you might get from a girl in high school who draws hearts on the front of her textbook or, like, a young woman in her sophomore year at a college with a lot of safe spaces. At one point she mentioned she was, like, 25 years old.

Those “likes” don’t make any sense when you write them out, so why would you actually say them out loud? Where did this come from, and how did it become so ubiquitous?

If I were to give one piece of advice to teens and college age people – and also to 25 year-olds who have jobs, apparently – it wouldn’t be to save money or to be nicer to small children and dogs and it wouldn’t be to remember to floss, though all of those things are important. It would be to cut out the “likes” completely. You’d be amazed how much smarter you’ll sound.

Oh, and don’t say “um” either. But that’s a whole other rant.

One thought on “Like

  1. Well first of all, I’m sorry you have a head cold; they’re horrible! Hopefully it’s better than it was. Just keep doing whatever works best for you until it’s gone, that’s all you CAN do really.

    I HAATE the the whole ‘like’ non-word usage you write about here, and took a swipe at it myself in your 11/9 column. It’s a real problem. I don’t know the origins of it either, and agree that it makes NO sense either spoken or written out! It seems to be getting worse and worse to the point where I actually have called people out on it.

    I’ll say something such as “you may not realize it, but you use the word ‘like’ as a crutch word in every other sentence (with a sad expression on my face) and know you’d want to stop it if you were aware of it.” It usually throws them for a loop, not knowing how to respond!

    As far as the annoying number of times this young woman used this nervous tick, fill-space word, it comes out to 9 times per minute or once about every 6 seconds. (I rounded it up to 45 instead of 44 to make it easier.)

    It’s epidemic among “college age” people. It’s certainly not helping their job prospects in paying back the horrendous debt! Having college on the pedestal IT still is, is another rant in itself. ‘The College Conspiracy’ 1 hour online documentary, says it all BEAUTIFULLY, starting within the first 10 seconds!

    I agree with you on “um” also. At least it’s a non-word in its defense, and has subsided. Even “ya know” and “ya know what I mean?” have largely left the building. Hopefully “like” will someday. The overuse of “amazing” to describe the mundane has subsided, but “issues” as THE denial word for PROBLEMS hasn’t. “Issue/issues” long ago passed the point of having no meaning at all other than referring to an issue of a magazine!

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