“Hey, wassup? Not much, you? Er, yeah nah not much.”
I occurred to me the other day that in a general sense we may have lost the art of genuinely asking after people. It’s an easy cop out to just blame the internet for the lost skill of caring. Blah blah interactions are just about showing off and hashtags are connecting us with fellow showoffs blah blah. Excuses, excuses. We have more media methods for connecting with people than our Grandparents could ever dream of, hilarious gifs for days and a billion different ways to say you care.
Hi, hiya, alright, yo, wassup (if you’re a 90’s kid), hello ciao, heeeeeey, yo, herrow. There are hundreds of words we can begin a greeting with, but what usually follows? “How are you?" "Fine thanks, you?” Deflection, sorted. The most common non-answer to a non-question.
And then you get the office-standard “What are you doing this weekend” which is often only an excuse to share a person’s own exciting plans, rather than actually enquire as to what interesting plans (and when I say interesting, PJs and movies is a legitimate answer) might be planned for two days of freedom.
Break the cycle. It’s easy to do. Send someone you haven’t said hi to in a while a message or something nice. Just pop them something little, sweet and unexpected to make their day extraordinary – the simpler the better. A text to say hi, their favourite chocolate bar dropped on their doormat, a card to say ‘thinking of you’, the lost art of prodding them on facebook or an email with “‘sup G” as a title.
Just ask those 3 little words “How. Are. You?” Maybe even get a bit meta and make a calendar note to randomly contact someone once a week.
It may just be a casualty of living in a big city – at home in the New Zealand ‘burbs my bestie would turn up randomly at my door when the local supermarket had our favourite wine on special, and we would watch awesome rubbish TV programmes as we solved world problems. It’s harder to do in the busy, fragmented metropolis of London and so easy to just feel like the effort is too hard.
Even when I googled ‘how are you’ in different languages, wikiHow turned up the actual phrase 9th in the list. It kind of worries me.