Off Topic: Howarya?


How are you?

To be honest, I don’t care. I only ask because everyone else asks, and I don’t want to be ruder than I am naturally. But I wish they wouldn’t. It’s so insincere. I mean, seriously, who cares?

The first time someone ever greeted me with “Howaryou” instead of “Hello” I gave an honest answer. The first few times, actually. It was the first person I’d met from the Midwest, and after a while I realized I was getting funny looks when I answered “tired” or “bored” or “awesome!” So I keyed it down and answered with a generic “fine” and the universe righted itself again.

At this point in my life, I’m thinking it’s some dumb Midwestern politeness, because if come from west of Delaware you can’t seem to just acknowledge people. You also need to pretend to care how they are.

And it’s not like they even listen for your response. I’ve had the following conversation multiple times:


Me: Hey, whatsup?

Midwesterner: Fine, thanks, you?

Wait, what were we talking about again?


And then, just the other day, I had this one:

Me: Hello, howarya?

Midwesterner: Hello howarya?

Me: I asked first.

Midwesterner: Wha—?

Hello! Do you even listen to yourself?


This led me to believe that the person doesn’t need any response at all. They’re asking merely for their own gratification. So now I let the conversation go like this:


Midwesterner: Hellohowarya?

Me: Hi.


And guess what. Nobody has ever chased me down the block going, “But you didn’t answer! How are you doing?”


This dynamic is highlighted when you’re approaching/passing someone in the hall.

Me: Approaching greeting zone  Hello

Midwesterner: Hello, howarya? As we pass

Me: Dying slowly, you? Ten feet distance and receding fast


Take a guess on whether the person turned around and asked, “Oh, is there anything I can do?” That would begin a conversation, which nobody really wants to have, because nobody really cares, which is why we ask the question while moving apart at the speed of feet while not actually listening for a response.


Therein lies the dishonesty. I mean, think about the people about whose wellbeing you really care. Do you say hello while brushing past? No, of course not. When you see them you stop and block the hallway and have a proper conversation. There’s no need to ask “howarya” because you’re either about to get a full update, or you got one earlier.


Am I the only one bugged by this insincerity?


The influx of Midwesterners into the tri-state area is damaging the integrity of our greeting process. Instead of being able to just nod, or smile, or say “hello,” we now have to also ask how people howtheyare. Keep this up, and we’ll soon be going through elaborate, Japanese-style ceremonies every time we bump into someone at the water cooler. Soon, people will be afraid to walk out of their own homes, for fear of meeting someone they have to greet.


We have to stop this now. Please, for the sake of our open and friendly society, don’t ask anyone how they are unless you actually care about the answer.