August 31, 2012
Because I have far more important things to think about, the world wide web is treated to the introspective ponderings that have been plaguing me for the last several days so that they will stop hounding me.
Following so far? Good.
I’m just a well-dressed wreck
I’m just a made-up mess
Working hard, trying to keep everybody impressed
All the while, falling apart on the inside
Stephen Curtis Chapman — Broken
I despise the question, “How are you?” Several of you have been treated to my venting sessions regarding this statement. In American culture, this phrase means little more than, “I acknowledge your existence, moving on…”
In some ways, this question turns us into the biggest liars.
“Fine, how’re you?”
I ask it sometimes at work to my customers. Sometimes they give me a, “Good, I’ll have a tall classic mocha.” Sometimes they say, “I’m alright, how’re you? I’d like a grande dark, no room.” Sometimes they are surprised, take a second to blink, answer and order. Other times they completely ignore the question.
I tend to fall into that last category, even in real conversations.
See, the thing is, people ask it but don’t mean it. Most of the time, they don’t even realize they have asked a question. It is acknowledgement of existence, much like, “Where are you going?” or “Have you eaten?” in Chinese culture.
In conversations with people, it is my habit that I will not ask the question, “How are you?” unless I have both the desire and time to hear a legitimate answer. If both of those are in place, I tend to push for more than a knee-jerk answer. Otherwise, what’s the point? I’m guilty of following the same pattern, but I try not to.
Life isn’t easy.
We are too busy. Too distracted. Too focused on ourselves. What I have to do next. Where I have to be. My world extends to my fingertips, and we view our fellow man through foggy glass. They are there, but not clear enough to care about what is going on beneath the surface.
This makes it very easy to lie.
Have you ever thought about that? Seriously? Why do you ask people this?
I ignore the question most of the time. But every once in a while, I’ll run into someone that will pause and actually ask me, “Hey, how are you?”
It’s moments like that when I’m honest. It really isn’t that hard to get me to open up.
The thing is, no one ever asks.
And most of the time when they do, it is easier to deflect the conversation, redirect it. Or answer, “Fine, how’re you? No, really, how are you?”
Then I’m safe. My soul stays tucked away. No worries about actually answering that question. No actually having to think about life, analyze it, and be honest with myself. At least not today.
Because when someone actually does ask, then I go into psychoanalysis mode and I ponder the question for days.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programing. Acoustic and Articulatory Phonetics, you’re next in line!