Monday, April 5, 2010

Hey! How are you doing?

Our social norms! Sometimes they are great. It's polite to tell someone "God Bless You" when they sneeze or smile and nod as you pass a stranger on the street. But why do we always greet each other with, "Hey! How are you doing?" My question is: are you prepared for a genuine answer?

Most of the time: no. No one wants to know how people are doing really, deep down, in their lives. They probably don't care what is on your mind or what your stresses are. They are just being "polite." At least what they think of as polite. My thought is that it's not so polite to ask someone a question that could potentially have a serious answer when in fact one is ready for a serious answer. On the other hand, does anyone ever want to answer that question? Really answer it? We all say, "good" or "fine" because those are the answers that are easiest and most expected. When someone says "bad" or "so-so," they are generally frowned at then dismissed. I'm sure that's not how we should be treating each other.

We set ourselves up to lie to each other instead of just not asking, which would be more sincere. Today I had quite a few things on my mind. When I was asked "how are you doing?" by someone who I knew didn't care...part of me wanted to tell her the truth. Instead, I saved us both the hassle of real interaction and said, "fine." Wow. What a sad social "norm."

I pray that we actually start caring about one another in a way that if we ask someone how he is doing, we are obviously sincere and caring. This way, the person can look us in the eye, smile with all the sincerity that we asked with, and answer with an honest "fine."

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