Dissing “Like”


“Simplicity” is a great ideal for the world in many ways. We need simpler healthcare. We might enjoy life more if we returned to a simpler diet and lifestyle. “The simple things in life are often the best”, they say.

However, we cannot let “simplicity” turn into code for “acceptable stupidity”. And that is what I fear is happening as the world “simplifies” its vocabulary. Great words are being lost as people use the easy option. For instance, when did you last use the words “tableau” or “rollicking” or “irksome”?

In my humble opinion, two words are amongst the key offenders: one is the word “FUCK” (and all of its fucking derivatives). It has become the universal adjective and, in doing so, paradoxically means everything and nothing at once.

The other, and the subject of my thesis today, is the word “LIKE”. The repeated unnecessary use of the word as “linguistic filler” (by anyone born after Wham was popular) is well documented. We have all heard a conversation which goes along the lines of “I was like, oh no, and then Jeremy was like, no way and then I was like, I like totally didn’t know that you like, like her. And not ‘like like’, but really ‘LIKE like’. Like… Wow!”

However, another societal shift has me even more concerned that this word is going to bring us down: the “LIKE” button on Facebook.

Let’s digress a little to look back at the path of human conversation that led us to today.  Since ancient times, when needing to express themselves, people talked to each other. However, that came with the irksome requirement that you had to be in the same place. The phone freed us of this annoyance but even then you had to give that person your full attention, or at least a fair chunk of it. Still, with the phone, if someone wanted to talk, you had an obligation to respond. Then came texting, and there was more freedom to reply at your own leisure when it worked out for you.

More recently, Facebook came along and allowed us to talk on a “one to many” basis (so much more efficient), and also to chose which friends’ comments deserved a witty retort or perhaps a congratulatory note, and which were just mere drivel.

But now Facebook has really steered us down a path to stupidity, by inventing that God-forsaken “Like” button. Now instead of conversation, we communicate through a series of virtual thumb gestures. Its like digital semaphore or something.

Nowadays, rather than provide any real form of connection or conversation with people upon a joyous moment in their life, it’s apparently okay just to click “Like” and move on.

Sorry, but that’s just so superficial and hollow. There’s no way to understand the depth or sincerity of the sentiment at all. It used to be that the actual content of peoples’ responses gave you some feedback on their thoughts. Now you get no context – you got more sense of emotion from the smiley face stamp your teacher used to put on your homework in the third grade.

And to make it worse, Facebook started replacing other buttons and phrases with just “Like” as well. Buttons like “Become a Fan” were obviously too complicated for the Facebook generation. And so another sense of the personality of Facebook was lost.

When it said “Irish is a fan of the Hawthorn Hawks” it meant something. “Irish likes the Hawthorn Hawks” is just NOT the same. I “like” shoes without laces; I “like” cracked black pepper on my eggs. But I don’t “like” the Hawks — I LOVE the Hawks; I AM A FAN OF the Hawks; I AM LOYAL TO the Hawks; I BLEED BROWN AND GOLD for crying out loud. That’s more than the word “like” can ever convey.

My concern is that if Facebook keeps educating the masses to “just say LIKE”, we’ll all end up with the emotional range of a damp rag. We’ll find ourselves attending weddings one day where the vows will go something like “I, David, LIKE Maggie” and “I, Maggie, LIKE David”.  Then the witnesses will all say “LIKE” and the presiding official will say “I hereby adjust your relationship status to married”.

And in lieu of gifts or cards and well-wishes, the guests will all just click “LIKE” on their smartphones and go back to playing Bejeweled.

— Irish

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One Response to “Dissing “Like””

  1. Iyerish Says:

    I completely agree with this. The day I read “To be or not to be” as Twittered was the day I wept for the English language. Is nothing sacred? If Shakespeare “invented” human emotions, I wonder what he’d say about Facebook and what its done to emotions. I think Taylor Mali would call it this lack of emotion and conviction “tragically cool” .

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