My favorite four letter words

Have you ever listened to someone under 25 say the word, "like" excessively?

Have you ever listened to someone say the word, “like” excessively?

“Mom, can I tell you something?” Behold! A precious jewel of a moment! My 16-year-old decided to speak to me! I must seize this golden opportunity! I immediately stopped folding laundry, anticipating a long-awaited bonding moment. Oh, how I have missed those days with my precious girl… For this one morsel of time, I was considered “conversation-worthy” and so I stood at my highest maternal attention. I could tell… this time was not about picking up/dropping off of random teenagers, extracting cash, life-altering drama about said random people who may/may not need a ride, or anyone related to “Dance Moms.” And these were her glorious words to me:

“Okay, so like, I was like in class and like the teacher passed out this paper. And it was like three pages long, and I was like, whoa, just like whoa. I mean, it’s like gonna take me all class period, and I may even like have to bring it home for homework! And so I was like, oh no, I’m getting this done in class! Like, I have all this time to worry about these facts. Like, who cares anyway? It’s like ridiculous. You teachers, are like, crazy all the time. What’s like with that??” She sighed and walked away. Oh, the bonding.

If you’ve had any conversation with a younger person in the last 20 years, I’m sure you have noticed the use of the word like.

It’s everywhere. And like some other four letter words that are getting far more use then they deserve in everyday language, like has been around for a while. I, being a child of the 80s, remember the valley girl dawning of speak-singing your conversations with like being your connector between your opinions. I was there. I thought it was a fad. I was wrong.

Like has infiltrated modern spoken language. Just people-listen at The Avenue and you’ll see. But now, it’s become the ultimate affirmation in social media. Post a selfie of you on your vacation? Snag 56 likes. Make a profound comment that inspires people? Soar to 84 likes. See your friend’s post about their beautiful new baby? Like it with accompanying emoticon and then post something sweet like “awww” just to reinforce your like factor. Furthermore, if we like it more than just your average like, then we post things like “Like X 10,000.” Conversely, we have figured out how to rebel against the social media creators that only gave us the like option. We comment “DISLIKE” with appropriate emoticon just to reflect the negative side of our emotions or opinions. Like it or not, here we are.

Fayette Woman is celebrating savvy young people and their extraordinary accomplishments. In my pursuit to honor this month’s focus, I also spoke to several valuable people in my life who have lived amazing lives filled with passionate purpose. The only difference is that I chose to speak to people older than 65 so that we could glean the wisdom they would like to pass on to the like-generation that seems to like everything so much. As predicted, they had so many meaningful and worthwhile things to share, but it all boiled down to one four-letter word. Being the writer that I am, I have written a poem to capture their advice. (If you like it, feel free to like us on Facebook.)

The Best Four Letter Word

Your words are your flowers stemming from the roots in your heart

Aimed toward nearby listeners when from your lips they depart

So choose your words carefully, and craft them at your will

Your words can soar, your words can heal, your words can also kill

Your thoughts are also written, as we watch so many of you on your phones

Communication seems constant; it seems you kids are never left alone

Some of us older people just don’t really quite understand

Why so many must take offense, or grab opportunities to grandstand

And what’s with all this “like” stuff? Give us a peaceful break!

This four-letter word, like other four-letter words, is becoming more than we can take

Moreover, what’s with these other four-letter words that you speak so often with ease?

You’re far too talented, and far too smart, to speak with such slander and sleaze

The language you use is a powerful tool and can open many doors

It can also fuel the desire for others to keep you locked permanently on the ground floor

We pray that many of you don’t see the things that many of us had to endure

Wars, rations, evil, and loss; humanity’s pain that seems permanently without cure

Choose your words with the intent of peace, and leave your judgments locked in your mind

Listen to that cute country guy (what’s his name again?); always be humble and kind

Believe in yourself, believe in your dreams, work hard because you can

Going up the ladder, and coming back down, has to be a part of your plan

Getting back to those four-letter words, there are some that we want you to say

Words like help, best, wish, life, home, give and play

We will put up with that other four-letter word like it’s something we can’t get rid of

It’s ok to like like, and like all you like; just remember the greatest four-letter word is love.

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