The confusing, “Hey, how are you?” in passing when really all that is needed is a “hey” or even just a smile or a head nod. Come on, this is just awkward no matter what. You can choose to answer the question, but then the person never has time to respond because you’re already tens of feet away from one another. Or, you can choose to just say “hey” in return, but then the “how are you” part just hangs there in the air between you. Furthermore, it’s not like when you ask this question accompanied with a wave you actually care how the other person is doing. There are very clearly defined correct answers to this question, including (but not entirely limited to): good, fine, tired, awesome, alright, meh, you know… it’s Monday. How would someone respond if you actually told them how you are doing? Like, “Hey, how are you?” “Oh, you know, pretty shitty actually. My friends are fighting and trying to force me into the middle of it, my best friend won’t text me back, I’m pretty sure I’m PMSing, I got a C on a paper I expected to do well on, I’m tired as fuck, my roommate won’t watch The Bachelor with me because ‘she has too much work to do,’ I have to go to a meeting I really don’t want to go to in which a bitchy coworker will try to teach me how to be a better person, and midterms are about to start. How are you?” I’ve always been a little curious as to what someone would do if I answered like this, but then I’m also pretty sure that person would never talk to me again, so I’ve never risked it. Maybe I will some day when I’m feeling ballsy. Probably not. I think we need to change the way we address one another when we don’t actually care about the other person – I think a simple “hey” is sufficient, but it feels more intimate to pretend you care. So I guess we’ll just continue to pretend we’re fine, because, let’s face it, we probably don’t want to hear about their problems either.