…And I don’t mean Facebook likes. Or Instagram approval. I mean a day without the word “like” …the one that we constantly use as filler, instead of a proper verb—most likely, “said.”
“I was all like….and then she was all like….” we usually default to this speak when we’re describing a past conversation with someone or a series of events or feels (a wave of emotions that sometimes cannot be adequately explained.)
My generation used to say, “So I go…and then he goes…” Same thing. Same function. Just the pre-millennial version of like. I wonder, did my mother think the "he goes, she goes," sounded just as absurd? Well, I'm sorry Like is worse. More Valley, anyway.
And it drives me crazy. You know what I’m talking about, right?
Ever since this has become my new pet peeve (aside: wouldn’t it be cute to name an actual pet, “Peeve”?), I’ve become hyper aware…fixated on the obsessive over-use of this verbal crutch…a place holder for lack of a more precise idea. As a songwriter, or any kind of writer, I think—or perhaps overthink—words. How they sound. Can you blame me?
And speaking of like, what about “umm”? I’ve noticed that public speakers, politicians talking heads on TV for example, aren’t ummers. My husband says the umms are edited out. But I beg to differ. They simply don’t mince words. Life (and attention spans) is short.
The Dean of my daughter’s High School used to say umm constantly. The Dean! During his speeches, I found myself sitting in the audience compulsively counting the umms instead of actually hearing the important things he had to tell us. No wonder I always got the details wrong. But I knew how many umms he uttered.
The other day I was at a party chatting with an aspiring starlet and every fifth word out of her mouth (I’m not being sarcastic), was like. I was like and he was like and I was like and he was like. What? Stop! Don’t speak. Please.
But here’s the embarrassing hypocrisy: after listening to this endless ditzy babble, I’ll start a conversation of my own and I’ll realize: OMG, I’M DOING IT TOO!
I am. It’s involuntary at this point. We can’t help ourselves. Like has been incorporated, assimilated, and embraced into modern vernacular. I know it makes us sound stupid. But I’m not stupid. And you (probably) aren't either.
Words are precious. Every like is a substitute for what we really mean. Don’t tell me that she was like…tell me what she was like. I want to know. Was she blue? Was she beige? Did you hurt her feelings? Did he say nothing at all? Write me a song. Paint me a picture.
Using too many likes is like :) diluting your lentil soup by adding water as a base instead of broth. (I tried this the other day and soup was B-L-A-N-D.)
There’s only so much real estate in a sentence. And we can either choose language that’s nutritious...make someone feel something and understand the detail…or we can like and umm our way into oblivion.
I’m going to make a conscious effort to give them up. I’m going to try not to let one slip today. Unless of course it’s a measure of how much I appreciate something or someone: "I like you." Or if it's a request that you to like my Page. :)
And if I feel one coming on, I’m gonna slow down…and breath…and think about what I really want to say…there are so many delicious words to choose from. Soon, maybe I’ll kick the habit completely. I would like that very much.
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