I find that I am growing increasingly uncomfortable with the word 'Like' these days, and while I know that this was not always the case, it took me some time to recognize that this issue goes back many years.
I suppose that it began many years ago, during the halcyon days of my youth. Full of vim, vigor, and a hormonal state that could only be considered balanced by comparing it to the current federal budget; I occasionally found myself in the company of members of the fairer gender. (This is not a simple as it might appear, especially for someone whose High School days were spent in an all-male establishment for the most part.) Embarrassed, tongue-tied, and completely unable of coherently expressing myself (a condition into which I far too often relapse, even these many years later), I usually found myself able to stammer out after considerable effort: "You know, I uh, like you."
Conversationally and emotionally stunted, and apparently without the lyrical ability that is said to be gift of the Irish nature, I was however occasionally able to rise above this stammering foolishness far enough for the occasional: "No, I mean uh, I uh really like you." (I know. Most of you are now in shock and amazement at the level of Shakespearean prose that I was capable of, even at this early age.) As time went on, eventually I was able to rise to even greater heights, occasionally allowing the word 'Love' to pass my lips (though undoubtedly still not understanding the concept, and probably in the forlorn and doomed hopes of 'getting lucky'); and eventually I managed to almost forget how uncomfortable I was with the word 'Like', though never quite completely.
Years later however, I found myself again confronted with this dreaded word, often in far more precarious circumstances. "Of course I like the bedspread with little purple flowers on it dear", was likely to be found coming out of my mouth with mild aversion, but without conscious effort. "Certainly I would like to go shopping with you dear; and of course I'd like to stop at the Art Museum afterward to spend hours viewing the traveling exposition of 'Shoe Art' afterward," slipped from my lips with only an occasional grimace or muttered imprecation. "Yes dear, I really like the way you've fixed this ... what kind of meat is this again?" might also found being spoken around the lower extremity usually found stuck in my pie hole, with the unpleasant taste coming as a combination of the foot, the disingenuous nature of the remark, and the dish in question. The stammering that usually accompanied such pronouncements usually doomed the attempted domestic tranquility being sought and increased my distress at the use of this word.
Just when I thought I had put these troubling and traumatic experiences perhaps forever behind me (along with a couple of marriages) along came Facebook, and the use of the word 'Like' became an unrelenting and recurring nightmare. Rather than my own fumbling occasional uses of the word in failed attempts to comprehend emotions that I rarely understood; I was now subjected to a veritable barrage of this four letter word that must be used to convey a cornucopia of emotions and opinions.
When a FB friend put a link up, was my unvoiced 'like' an expression of appreciation for the information provided, for the opinion expressed by this friend about the link, or both? Would a failure to give this vote of confidence (no relation to the novel of the same name) be seen as a lack of solidarity or worse, as an expression of disdain for something they found meaningful or informative? When two FB friends shared a link, was I required to like both, and would a slight be incurred by not doing so? When putting up my own links and other nonsense, would I in turn take offense myself in not being 'liked'? Did comments that were made on such material similarly require a 'Like' to show acknowledgement of their interest or affirmation?
Making matters worse almost simultaneously, was the peculiar speech pattern that was once again appearing in so many around me, one that I had thought to have seen the end of with "Valley Girls" and similar movies about teenagers in shopping malls fading into the oblivion. Instead, I once more found myself besieged by acquaintances, co-workers, and random strangers who insisted on connecting random thoughts in sometimes even more random sequences of phrases to form discourses molded around 'Like'. Declarations that, "Like we were going out the other night, and like you'll never guess what happened. It was like the craziest thing that I'd ever seen before, and like you know I've seen some pretty crazy stuff. So anyway, we were just like sitting there ..." engender the same feelings in me as fingernails on a blackboard or my the vibration of teeth being drilled for cavities (without anesthetic).
Worse still was realizing that by such constant exposure, I too was occasionally being drawn into similar (and because of my recognition of them), even more painful declarations. Hailing back to the memories of social suicide that I committed through the use of this word in irrational in often pathetic early attempts at the social graces, I now found myself committing linguistic suicide in abortive attempts to communicate the simplest of ideas to other members of either gender. Horrified at my inability to articulate the simplest concept or idea without bastardizing it into what will undoubtedly be the main soliloquy of Hollywood's next retread of a unoriginal ideas "Valley Girls - The New Mallenium", I actually began to contemplate a vow of silence rather than see myself sink to a level of communication only previously dwelt in by members of the inarticulate 'Occupy' movement.
Lest some of you begin early celebrations of my potentially quiescent future however, let me add that while indeed on the brink, I believe that I've pulled myself back from the edge of despair and unintelligible communication. That which cannot be changed must be endured, and that which does not kill us makes us stronger. I realized that I must therefore soldier on as best I can. This does not mean that this word has gained new found favor with me; but the awareness that until the current benighted conversational trend runs its course, there is little that I can do to ameliorate the current bastardization of the English language. I will therefore attempt to use this word only within proper context (and when forced to do so by the exigencies of Facebook).
Until further notice therefore, I choose to 'Unlike' 'Like'.