Today one of the most commonly used greetings is the “Hello, how are you?” It’s become a core part of every meeting people have with one another. First, a word is said in recognition of the other. This can be the traditional “hello” or a simple “hi.” Then an almost compulsory “how are you?” is added. Sometimes it’s added simply out of habit, other times it’s something that is said to seem friendly. Which is exactly where the issue lies. The question has been completely stripped of it’s meaning. People don’t care how the other responds. Instead of genuine interest in how the person is doing. I’ve been asked “how [I am]” countless times, to which the speaker has had no intention of listening to my answer. Everyone expects “good” or “fine” as a response, and in return they also always respond with the same answers.
Of course then one can wonder if this really is a problem. To which the answer is, no, not really. The loss of purpose behind “how are you” is not the problem but a repercussion of it. The problem stems from a numbness towards one another, and an apathy to each other’s feelings. Our world is no longer about our feelings, but instead aesthetics. Do you seem friendly? Is that the impression you’re giving the person?
Alright, but how did this “numbness” and “apathy” come to be? Well, I don’t know exactly. I have my theories—I always do—but we can never be sure. My theory relates our apathy and numbness to social media. The emphasis on aesthetics are ever so popular nowadays with the prominence of social media. People see the visually pleasing photo, and they like it without feeling or understanding the message behind it. For example, they see the Syrian refugee photos, and share it because they know it’s right to share it; because they’re supposed to share it. The same thinking can be applied to the desensitization of “how are you?” People ask because they feel a need to ask, but truly, they don’t care how you answer. They don’t expect you to spill your problems, worries or regrets. They expect a “good,” and you do too.