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  • Susan sluiter Green

Hello, how are you? bleep...bleep

Updated: May 13, 2018

Argument One - The Conformer - 'How are you?' Must stay!!

As social beings we have certain standrds of conventional verbal and non-verbal displays of kindness to demonstrate respect for our fellow human beings..Susan Sluiter Green

'How are you'? is one of those. This simple question, usually proposed to anyone a person comes across, including and mostly strangers, is the ultimate sign of openness and friendliness. It is saying that 'I acknowledge and respect you'. The social convention then dictates that a simple 'Fine thanks and you?' should follow. The convention implicitly states that this question should not be taking literally and answered genuinely. It is merely a verbal display of respect for another. It would be perceived as rude in the case of a stranger taking this question literally because we live in a world of haste and speed and it would be disrespectful to elaborate on how it is really going with you. The implicit rule of this verbal social convention clearly state that it should be a very brief exchange. These verbal utterances are extremely important to avoid being perceived as rude in social interaction and forms an important part of how we related to strangers, acquaintances and loved ones.

Argument Two - The Rebel - 'How are you?' Must Go!!

This is turning us in to robots. Robotic? ..Susan Sluiter Green

The implicit rule behind this social convention demands a robotic reciprocation of the noise of social convention. 'Hello, how are you..bleep..bleep?', 'Fine, thanks and you..bleep..bleep?, 'Fine thanks..bleep..bleep'. The general social knowledge that the question should not be taken literally and replied to genuinely, is evidence of its robotic nature. Consider these two social scenarios; a telesales person calls; 'Hello Mam, how are you?', 'Hi, fine thanks and you', 'Fine thanks', bleep..bleep...Both made the noise of social convention and is safe from being perceived as rude and convention state that they can move on and get to the point of the purpose of their interaction. 'I am calling to tell you about our super fantastic data package specials;'. Scenario two; this happens in a world where the other individual refuses to make the robotic noises of social convention because this person decided that he is not a sheep; 'Hello Sir, how are you?', 'Hello, well, how am I, this is a very good question'. 'In general I suppose I am doing quite okay thank you but to be specific, I am actually in some pain today because I broke my toe walking into a wall the other day, with it still being in the healing process, it is still quite sensitive and it didn't help that I bumped into the cat this morning' ...elaboration will ironically inevitably result in rudeness on the receiving end as the telesales person will probably hang up or interrupt to put an end to this tortures sharing of information which they did not invite. This oversharing almost becomes an assault to the auditory system. Because after all they honestly don't really care how you are doing, they don't know you from a bar of soap. And off course the question was merely the utterance of social convention to demonstrate that one is capable of being respectful and friendly for a few seconds. And that's all. An alternative response from the anti-sheep man could also be, 'Why do you ask me how I am, I do not know you' or the question could just be ignored completely. It is always interesting to observe the different and ironic reactions in the context of a refusal to return the noise of social interaction. The one displaying respect then turns into something which will depend on their personality type. The narcissist will feel utterly offended and will rudely repeat the question, 'I said HOW ARE YOU MAM?'...yes your play of words really proves that it is an instruction from your side to force me to make this pointless noise of social convention and that your fake friendliness really lasted for three seconds. There are those personalities who will refuse to continue with the conversation until you make the noise..'fine thanx and you...bleep, bleep..' and then the expected..'fine thanx..bleep, bleep'. It's as if this exchange of noise is the pass code to the continuation of a conversation. For the sake of not offending anyone, this argument will not go through the list of personality disorder to discuss the different responses to a refusal to return this noise of social convention, but you can work it out for yourself. In my refusal to reciprocate the pointless noise of social convention because I do find it pointless and also because I find it quite amusing to see the reactions to a refusal to return the noise , I have had this 'question' shouted at me too many times. Then I wonder, is this then not paradoxically demonstrating that you are in fact not polite as you pretended to be when you asked the question initially? Now this argument is not stating that we should all be Sheldon Coopers by taking things too literally and over analyzing the pointless nature of so many social international conventions, but I do questions whether this question is actually polite. How about a simple greeting such as 'Good day Mam, I am calling from ......'. Instead of the intrusive 'Hello, Mam, how are you?'...forcing a person to make the pointless noise of social convention. It feels like a waste of breath because, its fake and pointless and only serves the purpose of demonstrating that people are capable of politeness for a few seconds. After all, is it really respectful to ask a total stranger how they are? The most important question would then be, who came up with this nonsense and how did this become the social convention of politeness and why when people came up with rituals like these, do we just continue to follow it like sheep? A friendly face, a smile and a Hello, should have been sufficient. I wish we could get rid of this silly, fake and pointless..'How are you?' nonsense'. This question should only be asked when you really want to know how someone is and really cares because you, KNOW THEM.

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