Like Like Like · 23 November 2013

WARNING: We are being overrun by likes.

Likes are spreading like wildfire. We hear the word spring up in conversations all the time. Teens are especially susceptible to using the word an inordinate amount in their spoken conversations. But they are not the only ones who are succumbing to the epidemic of likes. We even hear adults putting “like” into sentences where it does not belong.

Like this. Like that. Like he said. Like she said.

I, for one, do not understand it.

I suppose it could be left over damages from talking like valley girls in the eighties. “Like totally!” “Seriously?” Even answering the statement, “No way!” with “Way!” are still around, but valley girl speak does not seem to be as pervasive as it was in the past. Unless “like” is just left over from “Like totally!”

Regardless of the origins of “like” appearing over and over again in conversation, the misuse seems to be spreading. It used to be comical when teens would say the word over and over again. They would say that things are like amazing instead of just amazing. You need to like chill instead of just chill. Or you’re getting like old instead of just being old.

I first noticed the like epidemic with our middle child. He says, “Like, like, like,” all the time. Then, I heard our other kids talk that way too. But I really noticed it last night when our youngest son was with two of his friends. All I could hear was like, like, like. All night long.

It is bad enough that teenagers do it, but unfortunately, adults do it too. My wife and I have been known to make fun of our children when they say like all the time, but we have been known to succumb too. It seems that we and other adults are now using like instead of “um” and “uh.” Like is becoming a verbal tic.

Fortunately, as pervasive as the spontaneous occurrences of “like” have become in the English language, so far it seems that the epidemic has contained itself to the spoken language. So far, like has not extended its reaches into the written language. At least for now.

I dread the day when like starts to appear spuriously in literature. With or without quotation marks. As I write, I find it difficult to even use like in the correct way for fear that it might not really be correct.

Does somebody really like my writing? Am I really like that? Do I really like talk like that? These innocuous questions with like the correct usages of like become suspect. Every statement with like in it becomes like a landmine to be like avoided. I question like each and like every usage of like.

Then, I know I can like relax. There is like no way that like could invade like good writing like that way. It like seems like highly unlikely anyway. At the very least, like I could like use like my like word processor and like check to like see if like like was like being like used way to like much. It would like seem likely that like those green like underlines would appear like under those like sentences that like have too many like likes in them.

Then again, like maybe I am like wrong. Like maybe I should like heed my like own like warning. Like before I like get like totally overrun with likes.

So like BEWARE: Like like like like like likes.

© 2013 Michael T. Miyoshi

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