Why do people ask “How are you?” instead of saying “Hi."?

Thursday, July 17, 2014 Dr. Vishaal Bhat 0 Comments

Is it just me or is it that there are a lot of people using “How are you?” and “What’s up?” in place of “Hi."? I am never sure how to respond to “How are you?” correctly. 

How do you address such an open ended question when faced with the complexity of life? I make it a policy nowadays to say “Good/Great!” with a smile on your face acknowledging the gesture, and then ask the other person how they are doing. It seems like most people who ask never really intend to find out how I am doing anyways. And if I happen to be having a really bad day and say something like “life sucks and then you die", they would probably totally freak out thinking I am messed up. So pretty much when people ask you “How are you?", they really mean “Hi.", but they want to rub in that extra concern to show that they care. 

The thing that bugs me is that they don’t really care, but want to act like they care. I would much rather prefer a sincere smile and a “Hi.". I don’t like questions in place of greetings, and if you really want to greet with a question, ask real and specific questions. “What do you think about the issue of Smriti Irani's educational qualifications?", “Do you think Alia Bhatt is really as stupid as she is on TV?”

Here are some imaginary responses that I came up with for answering “How are you?". I am almost tempted to try them out in person just to see how the other person would react:
 
“How are you?”
“Well, I am not sure. But I am starting to get the feeling that my life is not all it’s hyped up to be. I know I should be grateful and count my blessings, but every now and then I just feel like Murphy’s Law always wins. I am forced to view life as mainly boredom and lack of passion, with sprinkle of beauty and happiness few and far between. I would ask you how’s yours, but I have a stinking feeling that yours is not much better either.”
 
“How are you?”
“I am feeling fantastic. My life feels like it’s kicked into hyperdrive. No matter what I do, it always turns out great, it’s like things never go wrong. Lately, I feel so fresh and ready to tackle everyday when I wake up. I wish you can share this sense of appreciation and wonder of the beauty and happiness in life, but like the Matrix, one can’t be told what it’s like, you will need to figure it out on your own.”

Share your imaginary responses in your comments!

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