Tuesday, December 5, 2017

"Like": The Epidemic

This Blog Post Was Written by
Reia Gonsalves

Epidemic: a sudden, widespread occurrence of a particular undesirable phenomenon.

The word “like” has many different meanings and is often used in everyday conservation. The word "like" can be used to express similarities, preferences, feelings (emotional and physical) and can even be used to bring attention to an action or event.  The word "like" is most commonly used as a filler word or a discourse marker. People tend to use "like" to mark a pause or hesitation in speech. Often times the use of "like" does not add any real value to the sentence, it simply fills the silence while you generate the rest of your thoughts. We have all used filler words, for example, well, um/er/uh. hmm, and like. 

Another popular one that many of us know is "you know" which is often used by middle age people. In most cases, the use of a particular filler word or phrase is often confined to a particular age group. Over the years the use of "like" as a filler word or a discourse marker has become prevalent across ages. Is the use of "like" a good thing?

According to Ryan Grenoble's “Here's Why Using 'Like' In Conversations Could, You Know, Be A Good Thing" it just might be.  According to Grenoble and researchers from the University of Texas, the use of "like" as a filler word and a discourse marker is beneficial in conversation because it displays a higher level of conscientiousness. Although this rise in perceived conscientiousness was seen mostly between young females.

As demonstrated by this project the use of filler words and discourse markers can often be beneficial in everyday conversation. What many people do not understand is that filler words are like chocolate, only to be used in moderation. One example of the overuse of fillers words can be seen in Caroline Kennedy’s interview with the New York Daily News, where she used the phrase “you know” nearly two hundred times. How many filler words do you see, in the following quote? How many times are the filler words used unnecessarily? 

“Well, you know, that’s something, obviously, that, you know, in principle and in the campaign, you know, I think that, um, the tax cuts, you know, were expiring and needed to be repealed.”-           Caroline Kennedy

Recently I have noticed the ubiquitous use of "like" between both male and female individuals. One of the most notable events was a conversation between a male professor and a female student. The student was trying to make a point about an article we had recently read and the professor was rebutting it. Despite being an active participant in the conversation I can honestly say that I unable to recall the student's point. This is because I spent the entirety of her argument cringing. 

And that's because she sounded kind of like this (please excuse my use of the word):




"Is it, like, because I, like, say, 'like', like, so much?"







The professor laid out his argument after the student was finished and I was surprised when he not only seemed to ignore her excessive, unnecessary use of the word "like" but he also began to use "like" unnecessary and excessive. I thought that it may have been a domino effect, similar to the contagious smile or yawn theory. But as the day and week progressed, I became more aware of the unnecessary and excessive use of the word like by both genders and across ages. 

Has "like" become so ubiquitous that it has become detrimental to our conversation. Is it dumbing down our language? I personally think that the overuse of filler words and discourse markers are harmful, not only does your point gets lost in translation but you are also subconsciously telling others that it is okay to overuse this word.

Have you been infected with the "like" virus? 
Have your family or friends infected? Hold the hysteria, there is hope. We have the power to stop this epidemic in its tracks. By being aware of the epidemic, we can actively combat this virus. Be aware of your own use of filler words and discourse markers. Are you using it excessively and unnecessarily? Remove or replace the filler words. Just keep this in mind when you hear your friends overusing filler words and discourse markers. Friends don’t let friends overuse filler words.


Friends don’t let friends overuse filler words.




Sources 
"Here’s Why Using ‘Like’ In Conversations Could, You Know, Be A Good Thing"
By: Ryan Grenoble 
https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5484309

"The use of ‘like’ in conversation has been around since 1200"
By: Rashell Habib
http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/true-stories/the-use-of-like-in-conversation-has-been-around-since-1200/news-story/95f1fd56a4782ebdb6306f6157c2bb81