Like, um, what? A challenge?
I quote Cher on the regular. Not the one with the jumpsuits who wants to turn back tiiiiime, but the one who pouts, argues and shops like a champion. “Way harsh, Tai,” is a phrase that my friends have come to accept will never die (RIP Brittany Murphy, apologies for that incredibly clueless pun… sorry. again.), and the microphone-shaped sponge in my shower has heard, “I Want to be a Supermodel,” on repeat. I remember a time when I, too, was saving myself for Luke Perry, and obsessed with plaid. For some reason, and I still don’t particularly understand why, Alicia Silverstone’s vapid dedication to fashion, popularity, and boys resonated with me as a teenager… oh wait, I get it now – I was teenager. I may not have been white, rich, or driving challenged, but I loved the mall, and I think we can all agree that Paul Rudd, past and present, is a dreamboat.
That may be why it was so disappointing to hear my much younger cousin channeling Cher the other day when we talked on the phone. It’s not that I mind sharing my pop culture references with younger generations, far from it, but this was a limited edition rendition. Instead of focusing on the witty repartee between Dionne and Amber, my cousin repeatedly, and unfortunately, used only one word to punctuate our conversation. Yes, you guessed it: “Like.” That terrible, future-stealing, soul-sucking word that has done a single-handed number on my opinion of everyone under the age of 18. I’m fine with sounding like my Nana while saying that, because it’s true, I don’t love the way every teenager sounds like a Valley Girl. Even the boys.
I remember my dad telling me that it would keep me from getting a job. My aunt told me it made people sound uneducated. And they were right, using “like,” as a regular addition to my conversational skills made me sound as if I didn’t have the ability to put together a coherent, much less articulate, sentence. I took those ideas to heart, and promptly curbed the impulse. Even now, however, it takes concentration to eliminate its use to introduce a quotation. So truly, how do we nix its prevalence in our society, and go back to the good old days when the only people saying “like” were caricatures of the bratty offspring of the 1 percent?
A particularly well-written article by Christopher Hitchens touches upon the pervasiveness of the word within the modern lexicon, but a less technical entry on wikiHow is the one we should all be focusing on. In fact, I’m instituting a challenge. Wear a rubber band on your wrist, put a tally on your calendar, who cares what you end up doing – but pick an effective tool, from that list or your own repertoire, and try to go a week without saying it. You know which one I’m talking about – I started my challenge a few minutes ago and I don’t want to start over. Leave your own advice for stomping out the ‘like’ epidemic in the comment section and let us know how you’re doing. Dammit, there I go again, better start over… as if.
Image from http://jezebel.com/Valley-girls/