The Ontology of "Like"
"So, I was, like, going to the theater, and like, I saw Joe, who I hadn't seen for, like, two years. Then, like, we went went to the movie together, which was about, like..."
You get the idea. Why is this happening?! ("Sort of" is also experiencing a new hypertrophied existence--a related problem.)
Perhaps the reason is that people hesitate to state anything unequivocally, to affirm with conviction. Therefore, nothing is what it is (the law of identity), it is only "like" something else. Resemblance or similarity is all we can commit to. This way, one doesn't have to affirm anything concrete about objective existence.
The locutions "somewhat like" or " X is like Y" are fine, if used carefully; they are informative. But inserting "like" everywhere guts language, eviscerating anything categorical or unequivocal. Perhaps the oral addiction to "like" indicates an epistemological malaise or vertigo, a lack of confidence that some things can be known (=knowledge: justified, true belief). Postmodern culture makes information endlessly available, but knowledge harder to find and secure. Many of our verbalizations reflect this condition of information overload/knowledge deficit. So, we hear:
"So, I was reading the Bible, and I thought, 'Jesus is, like, God. And if Jesus is, like, God, then it would have, like, consequences for my life. But, whatever; it's sorta weird. I do like Jesus, like, really, but, you know...'"