Kleshas and Tanhas

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Case Study Showing When a “Like” is Used Instead of an “Um” or “Uh”

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That’s right. I did my own case study on math classmates who were presenting extra credit projects on God knows what; it was difficult to decipher the topics from the frequently used “likes”, “ums”, and “uhs.” Excuse me for using crude stereotypes to categorize the individuals who were used as my lab rats, but it would be difficult to convey the data without clearly depicting who I was studying. We have an array of cliches represented in this math class. Several Jersey girls, New Yorkers, hipsters, a track star, and musicians were compiled into this one study.

What I concluded was that if people were using a script, they were more susceptible to say Um or Uh. If they were improvising or recalling their information from memory, the would say Like.


The “hypothesis” I began with was that people from the Tri-State area would be more likely to use one of the three words I was counting. I also thought that females would be more likely to use these words more frequently than males. This latter portion, I conclude, proves true for Like-usage. However, in some instances, Ums and Uhs came from males more than females. I was surprised that the females that seemed like they would use Like more frequently did not live up to my expectations.* I’m talking about the spray on tan (it’s December, no one is suppose to glow,) too much make up, and wearing yoga pants to class females. (I did apologize for my crude stereotyping!) And yes, to my surprise, these individuals did not drop as many Likes as I thought. I found that they used note-cards to avoid putting a script in their own words. This is when I realized that Ums and Uhs were used more often; both words seemed to be used on inhales after someone read an extremely long line with no coma breaks!

Data 2 Graph**

I found this graph to be interesting in that we get a sense of the rate at which college students are using Likes, Ums, and Uhs. Girl 1, who I apologize for not knowing her name (because she sits on the other side of the room,) was clocked at a total of 36 likes in 3 minutes. That’s like, 1 like in every 5 seconds! I also found that the average use for Like for the 13 students was 5 for an average presentation of 138 seconds. That’s roughly 1 like in 28 seconds.

For Ums and Uhs, the out-lier of my data was using one of those two words every 6.75 seconds. The class as a whole was at risk of saying Um or Uh every 1.5 seconds for that same 2 and fourth minute long presentation. Sounds absurd (literally!)*

I conclusion, I found that certain cliches that I had stereotyped as high-Like users were not at risk!

*Sometime during the presentations, I realized that LITERALLY was the new buzzword that young people use so absentmindedly. Literally is more likely to come up in conversations and is used emphatically in lieu  of terms such as actually, in reality, and physically. (Listen to an adolescent, you’ll like, literally hear it a lot. Like literally…)
**Data was also collected by Stephen Sollami.


Written by Jack Viere

December 10, 2011 at 4:02 pm

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