I first heard the misuse of the word “like” from Shaggy on Scooby-Doo as a small child.  Yet when Shaggy used it, “like” emphasized his fear.  And he only uttered it once in an episode.  Growing up in the Deep South, I did not hear the misuse of this word until the college years. 

My husband and I moved to Flagstaff, AZ in 1995 after being together for a couple of years.  This is when the Plague of Like started for me.  We stopped a couple of other students on the Northern Arizona University campus and asked for directions to the Wal-Mart.  People, this is NOT an appropriate time to overuse “like.” 
“…..you go, like, a couple of lights down…”
“…..you know, like, near the…..”
“….and then you turn, like, left…..”

My husband and I looked at each other as if we were conversing with aliens.  Is this what we would constantly hear in the Western U.S. of A.?  Fortunately, not all of the time. 

By the time senior year rolled around for me, the man joined the Army, and I had our baby.  We were stationed in Texas, and the Plague of Like hit harder.  I didn’t think sitting in classes with students 3 or 4 years younger than me would be a problem with communication, but it was.  So much was “like” misused that a professor wrote an entire newspaper article in 1999 about it and called the majority of the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor students “boneheads.” 

My question is, what would Mr. Professor think now? 

I can barely listen to my sons and his friends talk without my teeth grinding.  I cannot handle tattoo artist/TV Reality Star Kat Von D speak at all.  How did this language become acceptable?

But I do have the answer and the Cure for the Plague of Like:

Know the correct meanings of “like” and use the word correctly: 
Like:  a verb to express fondness, acceptance, or tolerance, or something favored.  Example:  “I like you.”  “I like strawberry cheesecake.”  “I like the color green.” 
Like:  a word meaning resemblance or comparison.  “Please don’t dress like Lady Gaga.”
Like:  a word meaning or ‘such as’ or ‘for example.’   “He has flu symptoms like coughing and fever.” 

Do not use “like” as  a sentence enhancer, thinking it makes your conversation more colorful.  You just sound stupid. 
Do not use “like” when telling us what someone said.  That’s what the purpose of the word “said” is, not “I was ‘like….’ and he was ‘like….”  Don’t get me lost in your dumb Like Forest. 

Teachers:  First of all, don’t misuse “like” yourselves.  Please be a grammar example to our children when we trust you with our their education in your class.  Remember when our Grammar and Speech instructors stopped us and made us start our oral reports over when we said, “Ummm?”  Do just that.  When your students start liking things too much, stop them, correct them, and make them start their statements over.  If they grow frustrated, tell them that’s how you feel when you have to endure their idiotic speech. 

Parents:  Do what my husband and I do with our son.  interrupt his Stream of Likes and make him start his story over.  It has worked before in reducing the Plague of Like in our home.  Remind your children to say “said,” “asked,” “replied,” “answered,” whatever, instead of like.  If your children’s parents come over and infect your home with the Plague of Like, also interrupt them and tell them to start the conversation over.  If they don’t like it, they can go home.  🙂

It is not too late to save the next generation from sounding like boneheads.  Teach them to use proper speech and to expand their limited vocabulary.  The word will sound so much better.