Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I'm Miserable, And You?

The phrase "How are you?" makes me deeply uncomfortable. Although I've trained myself to answer in a non-committal way -- having, after decades, finally learned that it's not really a question and it's not supposed to have a genuine answer -- I still have trouble reciprocating as I'm "supposed" to. Every time I make myself say, "Fine, and you?" during a business transaction, I die a little inside. My unconsciously developed preferred method is to deflect with something true and generally acceptable: "How are you?" "Okay... isn't it hot today!"

I was reminded of this today when a poster on Twitter, who's recently suffered a terrible loss, talked about it. What a horrendous sting it is to hear that at a time when you're in great pain, from someone who doesn't really care about the answer and whom you probably wouldn't want to discuss your grief with anyway.

How very fucked up it is that autistic people are trained to behave in socially acceptable ways that are so messed up to begin with. "Welcome to the neurotypical world, now start lying!" I do understand the need for some social lies, but it's perfectly possible to be polite, even friendly, towards someone you have a transaction with without needing that false interaction.


  1. It's cultural. In Poland the whole 'how are you' doesn't exist and when someone does ask you are supposed to tell the truth. I've been training myself for years to say 'fine, thanks' and move on but it's really hard. Everything inside me screams: what's the point of this idiotic ritual? Now I don't reply, just smile... and to my great surprise no one cares or even notices my lack of verbal reply.

  2. Yeah, it's cultural. But it does make me feel nice to be asked, a bit. At least they're engaging me, sort of. Some people do answer truthfully, and I don't mind. You can get some good advice in 30-sec bytes that way! Lol. (And some bad advice.) It has taught me succinctness, lol.