Did you know that there are websites where young girls post pictures of themselves and ask, “On a scale from 1 to 10, am I pretty or ugly?”? It doesn’t matter, child. Any adult who has lived on the coast of Maine knows that there never existed a female who was so physically repulsive but what she could get some other woman’s husband to run off with her.

I read the “Pretty or Ugly” article and will not elaborate on it here because of the language used by some of the children in evaluating their peers. But it points out the need youngsters obviously have to quantify themselves.

Even Kevin, my physical therapist, pressed on my leg and asked me, “On a scale from 1 to 10, how much pain are you feeling now?”

What kind of a question is that? Assuming that you pass out at 10, any amount of discomfort is unwelcome and not conducive to production. One might reply, “Well, on a scale from 1 to 10 I’m right exactly on pi, but since π is irrational and has an infinite number of digits, on a scale from 1 to 10 I’d have to round myself off this morning at 3.14159.” Do unanswerable questions warrant meaningless answers?

“On a scale from 1 to 10” has crept into our language. On a scale from 1 to 10, how much do you love your spouse? On a scale from 1 to 10, how much longer can you rake leaves before you have to stop and go to the bathroom? On a scale from 1 to 10, how industrious is your son-in-law? On a scale from 1 to 10, how smart are your grandchildren?

Old folks are very often indifferent to the fact that new words or phrases have crept into their language. I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry or sleepy or have a rock in my shoe. I can’t remember ever telling my wife that on a scale from 1 to 10, I’m hungry like 6 and that on a scale from 1 to 10, she’s 9.9 pretty this afternoon and about that spaghetti for supper, on a scale from one to 10, I’m an undecided 5 and you’re going to have to flip a coin.

Like, I am interested in our changing language. “Like” has permeated the vernacular and one has to, like, converse with someone over 60 to be free of it, although I spoke with a young academic recently without hearing one “like.”

Quickly researching “like,” we learn that it is no more than a meaningless filler word that has moved in to take the place of “and, ehhh” in the cultivated speech of older folks. In other words, it keeps others from getting a word in edgewise while you’re thinking of what you want to say next.

Do you cringe when someone beams down on you and asks if you have something to share? Anyone would think you had walked in with a plate of newly baked ginger cookies.

Back in the good old days, kids had show and tell at school. They would stand and tell you something. Nothing was ever wrong with that. It was kiss and tell that was bad.

Back in the good old days when a man died, his friends sat around drinking for a few days before setting him off to sea in a burning boat.

Even 70 years ago, funerals were solemn affairs. You sat up straight in a black suit and black tie and black shoes and black socks and you didn’t dare breathe. But now those in attendance are asked to come forward and “share.”

I don’t know about you, but this “share” business grates on my sensibilities. You aren’t asked to stand up and say something. You are asked to “share.” It is my belief that “like,” “share,” “on a scale from 1 to 10” and other wimpy newcomers are moving in from California. You can correct me if you think otherwise.

Is it possible that rating your wife’s cooking on a scale from 1 to 10 is a carry-over from the quantitative business world of accountability? On a scale from 1 to 10, is Malcolm raking leaves/picking fruit/typing fast enough to suit you? When he falls below 4 on a scale from 1 to 10, is he history?

Like it or not, we do now live in a quantitative society. Only by filling in the little circle that lets the modern doctor know that on a scale from 1 to 10, your leg itches like 8, can he make a valid diagnosis and try out that new pill he bought from the Mercedes-driving pharmaceutical salesman earlier in the day.

If I may, like, share my opinion, if anything positive can be inferred by rating things on a scale from 1 to 10, it is that our society is moving closer to the metric system.

The Humble Farmer can be seen on Community Television in and near Portland and visited at his website:


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