I Do Care. I Don’t Love It.

I hate the expression “Love it.” It’s used when a child does something that could be construed as cute, but also as bad behavior, which is pretty much everything children do: “Today Ginger told me I had to give her a quarter if I wanted to go to the bathroom before her.” Love it! Or when an adult does something mildly subversive: “I left work an hour early and went wine tasting.” Love it! Or when an adult does anything fun: “We sat on the beach and just did nothing.” Actually, doing nothing is also subversive these days. Love it.

I also hate it when people say, “I love it,” when they are essentially just adding an “I” to “love it.” “Love it” and “I love it” are used about the same amount, interchangeable in both meaning and horribleness. It gets confusing, because it’s fine when people say “I love it” with straightforward sincerity, like when they walk into your house and see a new couch and exclaim, “I love it.” But this doesn’t happen that often. Mostly when people say “I love it,” they’re talking about behavior, not objects.

When I was growing up one of my mother’s close friends used to say “love it” to her all the time. (I assume she still does.) She generally said it about stuff that did not seem worth bothering to love, like, “Should we eat at 8?” Love it. “I think it’s just going to be hamburgers.” Love it. And this is nice, I guess, because it’s what friendship is, you’re just happy to see the other person, and not picky about the circumstances. Why does “love it” cheapen the whole thing for me?

Partly because I am a bit of a misogynist, I guess, and “love it” is, without a doubt, a women’s expression. (I just found out that Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie said “Loves it” a lot on The Simple Life. Shouldn’t that have ended it? Perhaps not. After all, people will be saying “Do the math” and “More cowbell” until the end of time, which almost makes it bearable that this may be here sooner rather than later.) And now I guess we have to talk about Facebook, mostly because it teaches all of us so much about what we hate and why. When I see “love it” written as a Facebook comment, I always think “Do you really? Do you really love it that someone stayed up all night watching Orange Is The New Black? Do you really love it that someone confessed an $18 a day coconut water habit? And the dog lying in the sun with its jowls hanging out, which was, arguably, rather charming? Why ‘love it?’ Why not just say nothing?”

A friend told me that what she really hates, Facebook-wise, is the phrase, “I wish I could love this!” This is another expression else written primarily by women, who, it seems, feel that merely liking something does not convey the extent of their enthusiasm. “Love it” is the verbal equivalent of the woman’s unconscious and constant smile. You don’t even have to like whatever it is you say that you’re loving. It’s less friendly, really, than it is a shield, a way for women reach their recommended daily requirement of benign positivity without having to actually feel or experience anything.

Now of course all these women I know are going to write me and say, “I say ‘love it’ all the time, you’re talking about me” and I’m going to wish I could say, “Oh, do you? No, I don’t mean you,” yet be unable to make my mouth form the words, because I am constitutionally incapable of performing certain acts of politeness, which, really, I think is probably worse than having even a very bad “love it!” habit. In truth I probably hate “love it” because people who are capable of slinging it around are also probably capable of faking being in a good mood, and this, I’m told, is what it is like to be sane.

Sarah Miller is the author of Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl. She lives in Nevada City, CA.