So when I called Dr. Damasio, who teaches at the University of Southern California, I worried that he might strike down my humanistic observations with unflinching scientific objectivity. He didn’t — he hates the phrase ["I feel like"] as much as I do. He called it “bad usage” and “a sign of laziness in thinking,” not because it acknowledges the presence of emotion, but because it is an imprecise hedge that conceals more than it reveals. “It doesn’t follow that because you have doubts, or because something is tempered by a gut feeling, that you cannot make those distinctions as clear as possible,” he said.ADDED: I'm not sure why Worthen limited her discussion to the phrase "I feel like..." rather than "I feel...." "I feel like" feels different from, feels like something different from "I feel." See what I mean? The "like" suggests approximation and simile. The speaker seems to be dramatizing his internal landscape. You don't even need the "feel." You can just say — as the kids these day do — "I'm like...." The idea is: This is me, here, having this experience. Watch me enact it.
But "I feel..." — without the "like" — could casually substitute for "I think." It's verbiage, stalling for time, perhaps setting up an honest revelation of the thought process and conceding, accurately, that it hasn't been carefully worked out. It can suggest a willingness to accept new information and to accommodate what the other person feels. Maybe we could combine our intuitions and get somewhere in this process of figuring out what's the best policy or which candidate to vote for.
And conversation isn't just about finding answers to various pesky questions. The highest value of conversation is intrinsic, human beings in a relationship. To say "I feel" can be to offer access into that intimacy. Can be. If the other person is saying "That's just how I feel," the signal is: I don't want to do this intimacy with you.
The problem isn't the word "feel" itself, but the particular feelings, expressed in context.