Question of the Month: Which one social convention would you get rid of?
I’m participating in the Question of the Month blog hop, hosted by Michael D’Agostino at A Life Examined. Visit his blog to find a list of other participants, or join.
I’m not exactly sure where he’s going with this. He mentioned the dress code that goes with certain events. We have that here, too, but most of the time people dress very casually, and don’t seem to worry about clothing expectations. My first thought was to write about hair, especially how American women are obsessed with smooth skin. But, you don’t want to read about my hairy legs and bushy eyebrows.
I live in the Midwest and folks here are sometimes hard to read. They don’t always say what they mean, or mean what they say. They’re too polite to tell you that your perfume is too strong, but easily complain about it behind your back. We often say “How are you?” as a greeting, but most of the time you’re expecting a simple, “Fine,” or even “Hi,” back because it’s really not a genuine question. But, sometimes, you’re not fine, and you don’t want to lie, but you don’t want to tell the truth either. Sometimes, a caring person corners you at the grocery store, and asks, with real concern how you are. They know you’re hurting because some sort of tragedy has happened. You appreciate their concern, but you don’t really want to have a meltdown in the dairy section, so you try to say that you’re hanging in there, but then they hug you, and it’s all over. If I’m pointing fingers here, I’m pointing four more right back at me. It’s a common question. Sometimes, I’m expecting the fine, and sometimes, I’m genuinely concerned about the person, but I don’t always think about their fragile emotional state and where we are when I ask. I’m not saying we should necessarily do away with this social convention/question. It would be good, however, if we took more care in asking it.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: So, how are you? If you’re in a safe place, emotionally, write it out or be real with someone today. The holidays aren’t happy and joyful for everyone, not every year. Take care of yourself.
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It has become a rather flippant question because most people don’t mean it and don’t expect a real response. I think it was President Lincoln who tested the theory at an event where a line of people passed him and shook his hand – whenever asked how he was, he said his grandmother had just died, and everyone answered with ‘That’s nice.’ Sad, huh?
That is sad. They didn’t even bother to listen to the response.
Yeah, it’s become so conformed that it slips out of people and none really care. plus sometimes when they do you can’t tell, as you say. And the nice thing is kinda dumb too, I’d rather be told I stink so I can do something about it.
It is a meaningless question, but if someone asks me, I ask back, like a parrot. People are strange.
I get somewhat uncomfortable when someone I don’t know all that well tells me about their personal tragedies or bad health. I try to leave it at “Sorry to hear that” with some added word of encouragement. When people ask me about my personal state I usually say “I’m doing fine” whether I am or not–unless it’s someone I know real well and they want to talk.
Tossing It Out
Sorry I didn’t answer the Question this month. I had a lot in my post and wasn’t sure of my answer for this one.
I always say I’m “good,” “fine,” or “okay.” Even when I’m not. I also expect people say the same. I don’t expect anyone expect my best friend or sister to actually tell me how bad they are feeling.
I agree that lots of people don’t really mean ‘how are you doing’ when they use it as a greeting. I try to only say that when I see someone I haven’t run into for a while.
I really couldn’t agree any more with what you’ve said. Somethings should really not be said/asked when you don’t want to hear or say the real things bothering us. I get tired of the phony answer “Fine and you?”
I especially noticed how much it was used today! LOL!
Well you weren’t quite sure what the question meant, but you definitely did well with it 🙂
Thank you, Michael. Another good one to make us think and connect.
I live in a similar environment. I used to laugh when someone asked me how I was and I told them the truth. For example, so-so, or didn’t sleep well last night, or fine. Sometimes my negative comment went completely unnoticed.
Anna from Elements of Writing
Yeah, ‘how you doing?’ has really just become a greeting, hasn’t it? There’s no expected response, maybe a ‘hi’ back or something. I don’t know if I’d like being genuinely asked this in a public place. Don’t want to talk emotions in the dairy section, as you said.