Agony, that's what this is. Sitting on a plane, waiting for it to taxi down the runway, but it's not moving, there are six or more planes ahead of us. Meanwhile, directly across the narrow coach aisle, sits a young woman chattering to a young man. They just met. She's telling him about herself, he's nodding his head, occasionally interjecting a question or comment of his own. But it's not easy, because the young woman speaks in an endless stream of words. Unfortunately, the vast majority is only one word.
Perhaps L.A. is the Liker's native homeland. But when the Grammar Guards were fast asleep in their watchtowers, the Likers slipped across the borders. There was no Ellis Island through which they had to file, no stern English teachers to interrogate them, find them wanting, and refuse to stamp their passports. And so, the Likers were free to spread wide and far and spawn.
Like like like like like.
Why do people speak this way? Is it a generational thing, primarily popular among teens and 20-somethings, and people at these ages tend to speak and act as their peers do? Is it based in uncertainty? Is that why you'd say "she's, like, all mad at me" instead of "she's mad at me?" Because you're not sure she's really mad at you? Do Likers grow out of it? (Yes, please!)
The most pressing question: What to do now that the Like genie has long escaped its bottle. We have freedom of speech in this country, and amen to that. However, freedom of speech means the freedom to heavily sprinkle every sentence you speak with more 'likes' than Justin Bieber's Facebook page.
Of course, disabling the Liker temporarily can be accomplished through ear plugs or listening to music with Like-cancelling headphones. However, this isn't always practical, such as when riding a bus or train. You might miss your stop and end up in Tuscaloosa when you meant to embark in Tucson. Mentally tuning out a loquacious Liker is challenging as well, because the sing-songy intonation of their speaking worms its way into your ear canal, where it's free to tap dance on your ear drums (and your last good nerve). Invoking the "Don't speak" command from Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway is the most tempting course of action, but it's one that my Southern upbringing won't allow me to do.
Perhaps we may politely request Likers to donate $1 to the charitable organization of their choice every time they use the word as filler. And above all, just as in the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers, we must be careful not to become Likers ourselves. In the past 24 hours, I caught myself using the word "like" unnecessarily--twice. And that is something I do not like.