I Didn’t Say Like For 5 Days And This Is What Happened

By Rachel Lay
29th Jun 2016

As a writer, you would be forgiven for assuming that I’d be an eloquent, vocabulary-rich speaker who instantly commands the attention of the room. But you would be very, very wrong. You see, I’ve grown up in a world where the prose of a Kardashian, or a Hills-dwelling Teen Vogue intern is of more influence than that of someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. It’s not my fault though, I’m purely a victim of society. Or so I tell myself.

When I was challenged with giving up something for 5 days, my mind boggled. What would cause such an impact on my life over 5 days that it would hurl me into a new routine, a new life? It was after an office-wide binge watching of The Hills and the subsequent mocking of their LA drawl littered with likes that I realized I too am victim of this typically Gen-Y vernacular. Obviously, this needed to change. When a self-imposed hour of no likes fell flat at around 45 minutes, I knew I had a problem.  

What am I gaining from 5 days without saying like? According to Don Watson, former political speech-writer, author and defender of vocabulary, not a lot. He’s bored of banal, mundane “middle manager” speech and actually cites it as the cause of the death of language – there’s no personality anymore, he argues. On the other hand, Lynda Spillane says it’s not what you say, but how you say it; it’s all about the pauses and the speed – or so she says.

So here we are, five days without saying like. Will I sound smarter at the end of this? Or is like just a part of our language we need to get used to? Stay tuned.

Day 1: Monday

It’s day one, and I couldn’t be more terrified. Monday is a day notoriously filled with meetings and thus, a whole lot of talking. FML. But I’ve officially gotten to 9am sans like. Am I an adult yet?

I spoke too soon. Meetings have been the death of me.  I start off strong, utilizing pauses and bevvy of filler words. Each sentence is interrupted with an “oh f—k, I just said like” and my inputs to meetings seem to run out a little longer than usual.

Sporadic bursts of conversation in the office lead me to again, bust out the L word. But I’m getting more conscious of what I’m saying and thinking a lot more about how I want to phrase things, which at this point means that I’m talking a lot slower. I have a feeling that I’ll be a lot more articulate in the coming days. I hope.

Day 2: Tuesday

Day two and I’m feeling good. I haven’t said like yet, and I’ve been very social this morning. Morning chats, a coffee run and a briefing with our designer (who is also a fan of the L word, and is often responsible for my relapse) went like free. My optimism is dashed when I remember that I have dinner plans tonight – wine is surely going to fuck this up for me?

Dinner with a friend is of course, littered with likes. It’s the combination of wine and being around a friend who says like a whole lot more than me. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow?

Day 3: Wednesday

Day three is off to a cracking start. After turning a new leaf post my like-filled evening of dumplings and wine, I’m yet to drop the L word. I’m feeling articulate and when I speak it’s becoming more and more well thought out. Go me?

Things get pretty official when my co-workers tell me I’m talking a lot slower and more thoughtfully in comparison to my previous chaotic stream of speech. It sounds like saying like is really making me sound dumb.

Day 4:

By day 4 I’m feeling a lot more articulate, and a lot more conscious of what I’m saying. Instead of just barging into conversations with a like-riddled offering of my opinion, I’m thinking about what I want to say, and the best way to say it. Obviously this doesn’t mean I’m filled with a new found intelligence, I just sound less like a walking stereotype. Yay me?

The end is in sight and I’m feeling good. Obviously, the occasional like slips in here and there, but I’m relying on it as a filler a lot less and am branching out to the ever so reliable um. Joking, I use big words now, too.

Day 5:

On my last day of this experiment, I end up working from home which is such a fail – social interactions today will prove to be minimal. I am however, messaging co-workers and and doing a lot of online talking, where I’ve noticed I surprisingly said like a lot in the past, more often than not I’d use it to make a statement sound less demanding or to appear as if I’m not nagging to make sure my co-workers get it that I’m not a huge bitch. Not sure about that logic, but that’s why I’m doing this 5 days thing.

The Verdict:

So what did I learn? I learnt that saying like is a totally normal thing – it’s infiltrated the vernacular of even the most un-Gen Y speakers, and it’s become commonplace. Except no one really knows how much they say it; co-workers season their sentences with more likes than necessary, and during my 5 days I became hyper aware of it. While struggling in meetings to refrain from the L word, bosses would go ham with it while I stuttered over a suitable like replacement. Friends dished up likes as if a sentence would have no meaning without it.

So in a world totally addicted to “like,” what do we gain from going 5 days without it? A better understanding of how our words impact people. I found that during days 2-3 when I was struggling with my like detox I was speaking slower, planning out what I was saying and in general, being a more thoughtful and strategic speaker. It was on these days I got told I sounded more articulate, not on the days when I avoided saying like altogether. The conclusion? As Lynda Spillane says, it’s not what you say but how you deliver your message. If the Kardashians have impacted your vocab a little too much, who cares – have conviction in what you’re saying and respect will follow. With or without like. 

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.

You May Also Like