The like, LIKE Epidemic


The other day, I was innocently partaking in a class discussion when one of my classmates began to express her opinion, “In my opinion, I think…” Unfortunately, I have no idea what she said after those initial words because following them she interjected “like” more times than Lindsay Lohan’s been to rehab.   



As she spoke, the four little letters began to grow at an alarming rate in the center of my brain. In a matter of seconds, offensively bold and bright, the word LIKE coup d’etat’d my cerebrum, preventing me from hearing any other word she had to say. This girl, smart though she was, had managed to squeeze the word “like” in 2 or 3 sentences twenty-eight times. I cannot exaggerate, I counted.


More contagious than the plague and less flattering than crocs, the LIKE Epidemic has affected us all. A brief Google search on the history of “like” and you’ll find that over the past 50 years the filler has gone from being associated with hippies and potheads to ditzy valley girls to being a normal part of spoken language. I can’t claim to be any exception; I have the disease just as much as the next person.


But sitting there in class that day, I became hyper-aware of the blatant overuse of this useless word. Even my young professor used it a couple of times. It was the movie-moment where the character realizes, with widening eyes, that the aliens have not only landed, but they have successfully infiltrated the human species without anyone noticing.  Something must be done.


When I think to the future, I see myself dressed in a power woman suit à la Angelina Jolie. I’m standing before an assembly hall full of world leaders, ready to advise them on their steps to World Peace… I begin my speech and then, lo and behold, an onslaught of “like”s pours from my mouth. I shudder to see my (realistic) future ambitions dissolve before my eyes.


No, I say! Teamwork, I say! My closest friends and I have made a pact to inform each other when our usage of the dreaded word exceeds more than two per sentence. It’s just good friendship. I recommend it to everyone. My guess is it’ll increase your chances of acing that job interview and probably bump up your sex appeal a few notches too. There is a reason, after all, that Martin Luther King didn’t proclaim to have “like, a dream”; Obama didn’t chant out for “like, change” and Renée Zellweger didn’t gush “You had me at, like, hello.”