Stop Saying “Like” — A Dislike Button
What’s like got to do with it? Like is in the air. In the name of like. Make like not war. How do I like thee? Let me count the likes. All you need is like. Like will find a way. Like will set you free.
As you might surmise, I’m up to here with LIKE. We could blame Facebook or Internet culture in general, but that’s no better than blaming Miley Ray Cyrus for the twerking world not working. The impulse to shrink our engagement with the universe, shrinking it down to a simple click of a thumb’s up button, is a problem we cannot so easily lay at the feet of Siskel and Ebert or Moon Unit Zappa–(Although one could make the case. The evidence is there.)
No. It’s our fault. Our language suffers. Yet we continue to bow to the tyranny of LIKE. Well, my knees have had enough.
I assembled this image to protest the empire of LIKE. The picture shows what happens every time a LIKE angel gets its wingèd thumb. The raising of that thumb breaks open the heart of the human condition to which it is chained. Inside that heart, all the authentic, complicated, even ineffable emotions of the universe huddle together in shivering fear of LIKE. Munch’s screamer pops out of the crack, shouting an SOS for the collective unconscious. Trouble is, the damned font of the SOS has been hijacked, like-jacked. Even the scream ends up reaffirming the quippy, cutsie, killing-me-softly with its ubiquity dominance of that damned up-raised thumb and its viciously ironic fight song LOL–Lots of LIKE!
Baudelaire warned us about this. He used a more loaded term, a cognate of LIKE, the devil:
“The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he did not exist.”
Do not fall prey to LIKE’s milquetoast manner. Its filler jam on vanilla toast talking hides omnipotence. Its seeming triviality conceals a crown. Don’t fall for it. LIKE’s a problem. It’s everywhere. And we’re all Eliza Doolittles without a Henry Higgins in sight. LIKE is Pygmalionizing.
LIKE’s latest decree: no more absolutes. Down with fine qualifications. Either you LIKE it or ….That’s it. There isn’t even an opposite. They never gave us a DISLIKE button! And what’s good about commenting when every word strives to be a LIKE? Even saying nothing, the absence of LIKE, puts LIKE at the center, inside the font, worming its way into the nucleus, the nickel and iron core of our souls, wet with hot, spinning, LIKING exhaustion.
A colonizer, LIKE swallowed up its rivals. It ate other verbal indicators of speech or quotation, so that now Jim was all like, for real?, and I was like, yeah, for real, and then Jim was like … and I was like… and so on and so on and so no one is reported to be saying anything directly anymore. Nothing is ever essentially the simple uninterrupted direct object of a sentence anymore.
LIKE is pause-making, place-saving, mouth-breathing. It is para-language, pseudo speech, the semiotic idiotic. The politician’s version of it is that droning UUHHHMM of a mushroom cloud, decimating specificity and interest, hoping you’ll fall asleep by the time you notice your question wasn’t, like, answered; hardly, like, asked.
LIKE is a concept-bully, taking the lunch money of more thoughtful words. Though longer and more precise, they seem weaker to us everyday. Why? Because LIKE is a big dumb carpet-bombing catch-all of a bully, that’s why.
If LIKE were a dance (and it is) it would be called the funky simulacra, twerking itself into transcendence and reducing everything down to a contrivance of appeal. Aren’t there things that cannot be measured by my interest, my passionless passing fancy? Is there nothing left in the universe stronger than my own ultra-subjective perception of it?
LIKE is cousin to Love and no one wonders why Love lingers only as that two-handed code, that sugared gesture of a heart shape made by the crimped fingers of very, very happy and often very, very young people, so much happier and younger than you. A strange metamorphosis happens when I see that gesture: it becomes two fists. Yet another omen of the loss of kindness and ardent passion and verbal precision in the world.
LIKE buries me in the dirt of half-love. Not even my wormiest operations can save the soil.