Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"Like"

Originally it meant "resembling," or, as a verb, "to take pleasure in."  Then it morphed into a kind of verbal hiccup, a place holder while the mind caught up with the runaway tongue:  "And I said to her, like, who do you think you are?"

Then Facebook came along, and "like" went, like, viral.  It got a new opposite, "unlike," and an imperative, as in "like my page!"  I'm o.k. with being told to "love me, love my dog," or even better, "love my dog, love me."  But can I really be commanded to like a Facebook page?

The "like" Facebook button used to be a last resort when you didn't have time to write a response but wanted to signal approval.  But now that one half of humanity is FB friends with the other half,  "likes" accumulate on posts like drifts in a snow storm.  A wedding anniversary is worth at least thirty likes, a new profile photo fifty, a baby's first tooth--a baby's anything--as many likes as the proud parents have Facebook friends. The "like" reflex has become so generalized that I have even seen it in response to someone's post about mourning the death of a loved one.  Pelted by posts from morning til night, what can we do in the face of the gale but weakly like, like, like?


Facebook needs to broaden its one-click response repertory.  This might include "empathize,"
"congrats," and "envious." These would save us a lot of typing.  And we need something to balance "like."  I propose "hate," or even "abhor."  Maybe "yawn"?

I know, this social medium critique is making me sound quite antisocial.  But I will confess that when I was starting up my FB business page I shamelessly ordered my friends to like it.  They kindly clicked, and I in turn click whenever I'm asked.  And many times every day my finger hits "like" when what I really mean is, "your dog is adorable;  you don't look old at all;  I hope that dish you cooked and photographed agrees with you."

And when someone "likes" one of my posts I always read it as, "I live to read your every word!"

12 comments :

  1. It appears that you, like, read everybody's mind! I want to hit the "like" button on this post, but feel the shame and resist.
    PS-I like your writing style, your dogs and YOU. Have a nice day! (insert yellow smiley face here)

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  2. Had a British friend who said we Americans were sloppy and lazy with our vocabulary...such as using "things" and "stuff" and so forth. Wonder what she would say now???

    Must admit I HATE the use of "like" the current way. Told my grown son it showed lack of education, especially in business, but guess Facebook changed it to the norm. Still sounds bad in conversation...

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    1. I remember the first person I heard say things such as "I was, like, amazed at his use of color." He was a painter, and a friend, and quite smart. And I couldn't figure out why he was inserting "like" in all these weird places. I agree, though, that in general it doesn't make one sound, like, articulate and stuff.

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  3. but i DO live to read your every word. and there are always emoticons for all those other thoughts you'd like to express....

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    1. I haven't yet set foot in the world of emoticons, but I'm quite fond of some computer acronyms. ROTFL is my favorite.

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  4. A "yawn" option would prove quite dangerous in my case.

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    1. You mean that you would use it to comment on other people's posts? But then we'd miss your comments, which are usually hilarious.

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  5. Just had a memory about living in LA in the 90's...there was a new trend called the
    "Valley Girls"...a major part of their vocabulary was "like, let's go to the beach"...
    and they were fluffy and dim and moviemakers and comedians had a field day with their nasal sing-song ways, and it all came out of the San Fernando Valley north of LA..."over the mountain" the less desirable place. Had forgotten about that...

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    1. I remember Valley Girls. They were succeeded by "up talk," which in turn has given way to a bizarre semi-nasal, open-jawed, voice-frying, opaque way of speaking that I can hear even on some NPR women reporters. Fie!

      I wonder what it's called?

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  6. Here's another ear irritant...using "He goes..." and "She goes..." instead of "He said.." and "She said...". Ouch, ouch, ouch... it actually hurts...

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  7. Not sure why Blogger didn't publish this sweet comment from Mali, but here it is:

    I do indeed live to read your every word.

    And I have found when I visit the US, that by the end of the trip, I sometimes slip into using "like" as a verbal comma. Shock. Horror.

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