That’s the way, uh-huh uh-huh, l like it, uh-huh, uh-huh. – K.C. and the Sunshine Band

Oh, my love is like a red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June. – Robert Burns 

What I like best is just doing nothing. – Christopher Robin

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. – Almond Joy ad

I like mine with lettuce and tomatoes, Heinz 57 and French-fried potatoes. – Jimmy Buffet

These are all correct ways to use the word “like,” as an expression of something that is preferred, or at least palatable, or as a simile, meaning a comparison of similar things.

The way a lot of folks have continued to use the word this century has me terrified for the future of the English language.

It’s not just teenagers who pepper their conversation with the word “like,” using it two or three times in a sentence for what they must think is added emphasis.

I’ve been hearing it more recently among former teenagers, from people in their mid-20s to mid-30s.

Consider this slightly edited conversation I heard in person recently: “She was like, ‘What the heck?’ and I was like, I don’t know, but it was like, weird.” (Age of speaker: 25.)

You might recall that I have shared some odd choices in reality-show television entertainment. Here’s another – I recently stumbled onto “The One That Got Away.” 

I tuned in because I would be intrigued by stories of newly divorced folks having a mid-life crisis and wondering “whatever happened to old So-and-So who I dated after college.” This show is not like that at all. (Note correct usage of “like.”)

These are mostly late-20-somethings, barely finished with high school and still in their first job, who have been burned in one relationship and are seeking the next. They believe their futures will be bleak and boring and they just won’t survive if they don’t find The One before they turn 30.

I’ve got news for you, children. Life isn’t fair, life is what you make of it, life is OK on your own – for a little while or a long while, depending on who you are, where you are in life, and what you like and don’t like. (Note correct usages of “like.”)

But back to this strange show.

Almost to a person, the six cast members dated someone they knew or liked in high school (note correct usage of “like”), then lost touch. As the show progresses (while they all are ensconced in an idyllic paradise), various people from their past come to visit to try to rekindle – or perhaps to find – a spark.

Also to a person, their conversations cannot be completed without at least a dozen extraneous and incorrect uses of “like.”

Here’s one part of conversation verbatim (I paused the TV so I could get it right): “I just kind of, like, had this wall hit me, like, that I couldn’t reciprocate what he was feeling. I think with today, like, the date, I want him to see, like, me, and see, like, what I’m all about.”

Is it just me, or have the kids gone a bit overboard with this word? I’m beginning to think they are using it as a sort of spoken comma, albeit mostly in the wrong part of a sentence. They can’t stop talking long enough to breathe, because someone else is likely to interject, so they keep talking, like, trying to get to the point so they can, like, make their point and, like, finish the story. (Note INcorrect usages of “like.”)

Recognizing that my young adult vocabulary was riddled with such words as “groovy” and “boogie down” and “far out,” I can only hope today’s post-college youth will gradually realize how idiotic they sometimes sound when they choose overused words to tell their very fascinating stories.