Like, An Epidemic, To Be Honest

It’s become an epidemic and it’s completely out of control. Here in the US, and I’ve also notice a dramatic increase in the UK too. The overuse and incorrect use of the word ‘LIKE”

It’s dreadful, it’s annoying, it’s frustrating and it’s grammatically abhorrent. I overhear many conversations, especially with the kids that I coach, early teen, 14 to 16, years of age, and their constant use of the word “LIKE” in unbearable. A typical discussion between two of my daughters friends can go something like this. BTW, I used the word correctly in that instance!

“Well we went LIKE to the store, and LIKE my dad bought me this LIKE sweater, but LIKE I didn’t like it, so LIKE we LIKE took it back and LIKE I now don’t have one”.

It gets worse. From the beginning, I have tried to encourage these young ladies to drop the use of this word, unless spoken in it’s correct context. I have done  this by telling them how many times they have used it in the sentence they just spoke. Most of them have the same reaction.

“Mary, do you know you just said the word LIKE, 7 times in that last sentence?”

“I did?”

They are clueless to how much they are using it and it’s obviously become an issue that no one, including schools, are able to overcome. The issue has spread to some of the worls major celebrities too. I watched an interview on a chat show last week with a young lady who starred in a Vampire movie. It was a joke! Although 28 years old, she sounded very much like a child when responding to the questions thrown at her.

“How did you enjoy making the movie in Ireland?” she was asked

“It was LIKE so cool, LIKE you wouldn’t believe it. The place is LIKE So green, and the people are LIKE the funniest and LIKE the friendliest….”

And so it went on. I had to turn it off. It drove me insane! I couldn’t understand why the interviewer hadn’t interjected with a sarcastic comment or two. I watched another chat show from the UK on the BBC last week, a lady who was also a guest on the show was sitting next to Will I Am, from the Black Eyed Peas, and she kept stopping him, just the way I have done with my daughters friends, telling him how many times he was using that word incorrectly. He began to get it, and by the end of the show, everyone was enjoying the fact that even HE knew he was doing it but couldn’t stop without seriously thinking about what he was saying. His conversation flow ceased!

In the UK, and I listen to radio stations from there all the time, specifically the sports channels, we have a similar issue, but the words are different. When an interview is taking place, the conversation is almost always started with the phrase, “well to be perfectly honest with you” OR, “to be honest”. Again, this drives me nuts, and today, yet another perfect example of how the overuse of this phraseology is diminishing our listening experience.

“Wayne, how does it feel that you’ll have Robin Van Persie playing next to you in attack this season”

“Well, to be honest with you, I’m going to love every minute of that”

Come on!! If he wasn’t going to be honest, he’d be lying, and if he was lying, then he shouldn’t even be on the show. Why do these sports enthusiasts, professionals and interviewers have this insane tendency to stress that they are being honest, and all for the wrong reasons and in the wrong context? It sounds like they are standing before judge and jury every time they speak. And again, my use of the word LIKE was correct!

So, how do we stop all of this bastardization of our precious language? How do we become fluent again, without all the abuse and misuse of words that are incorrect or phrases that are laughable? Emma Thomson, Academy award winning actress, has started a campaign to stop the over use of LIKE. Education is one thing, but in my opinion, the only way to make it better is to badger those who are guilty. Stop your friends, your colleagues, your family, whenever they use LIKE or to be honest with you. Stop them in their tracks. Be rude by interrupting them. Tell them they are doing it. It’s the only way they will realize how guilty they have become and how stupid they appear. Count the number of times they use that word, and ram that number down their throat until they cease and desist. That way we have some chance of conversation becoming pleasant once again!

To be honest with you, that was a likable post to write!

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