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Comments on Monday 18 November 2002:
Social interaction, and the beginning of conversations. I have ranted before, I think, about how much I dislike the "Hello," "Hello," "How are you?" "Fine, how are you?" "Fine." standardised beginning, as a waste of time and effort (why not just skip straight to a conversation with a topic?), but I've just crystallised a new extension to the theory.

One of the most annoying things about the opening is that it puts the onus, first, on the victim of the conversation to supply a topic - either of "Hello." "Hello." "How are you?" or "Hello, how are you?" are asking for the second party, the one that doesn't initiate the conversation, to supply information. Now, if I had something interesting to say to the initiator, I would probably have started the conversation myself ("Hello - here's an interesting thing..."). As such, I find the opening "Hello." "Hello, how are you?" much less annoying as information is requested first of the initiating party. Unfortunately, they usually won't actually supply any information, instead going for "fine, how are you?" and the onus is once again on the victim.

Ideally, I think, the onus to supply a topic of conversation should never fall on the victim of the greeting. There should never even be a suggestion that the greeted should be the one to provide information - though they can, of course, offer it if they wish. Initiating a conversation without having a topic, or even just something to say is the thing that annoys me, rather than the opening text itself.

All of this applies primarily online, mind, where you can't know if the victim is busy - if you bump into someone on public transport, or something, time-wasting pointless conversation is fair enough, because you can see that the victim isn't doing anything else. [09:51]

Digi
What about situations where the greeter thinks s/he might have something for you. Such as: "What's your name?" "Fuck off. I'm busy." "Fair enough, I wonder where RavenBlack could be, this sack of cash is hurting my arms."

Or how about if it's made known that your under no obligation to answer but it would be appreciated if you did. For instance after "Hi, I'm Digi" the first thing I say when making a phone call is "Are you busy?"

RavenBlack
Different things - both asking for specific information. That's okay. I still might say 'fuck off', of course, but at least there's a point to the communication, other than to be entertained at my expense. Usually.

Tom
For me, 'Hello' by itself completes all of this. Well, actually, 'Hey' usually does the job encapsulating 'Hello, good to see you, I hope you're OK, I'm OK, good to hear that your parrot recovered from that nasty beak infection and that you've stopped beating your wife and that your dog hasn't yet eaten your children.' Of course, online 'Morning' stands in for 'Hey', usually, due to the influence of chickens, but generally means the same thing. Essentially this means that I can:

Me: Hey.
You: Hey.
Me: So, tell me about your murder trial.

This works with people I haven't seen in years, without any messy preliminaries. I expect you just need to use a more efficient compression algorithm when it comes to greeting people. Sometimes all that's needed is:

Me: Hey.
You: Hey
Me: Hey!
You: Hey?

By which I learn that you've just been told you have 3 weeks to live, and I've told you that I really don't care, except maybe you could give me your widow's phone number and some illegal fireworks. You're not sure if this is a good idea.

David
I've noticed that the standard protocol has taken on a useful purpose here in Montreal.

"Bonjour" means "greetings, shall we speak French?"

to which I reply "Hello" meaning "no, just English s.v.p."

Zloduska
I love the phrase "the victim of the conversation." Sometimes it is like dodging verbal bullets or being accosted by a mugger trying to steal your time and attention, not money. One of my biggest pet peeves at work (food service industry job) is when customers try to start pointless conversation as I am ringing them up, while I am either really busy at the moment (and obviously so) and/or very sick (or tired) so that I don't feel like talking at all. Inevitably they ask me something so dumb it cannot be answered, or an observation so patently obvious there is no response except, "Yeah, okay." Like you said, a request for info is okay, as in "where is the cream and sugar", but my reaction to vapid questions is usually apathetic dismissal and running away at the first opportunity to do something else. On the other hand, trying to deal with the overnight janitor-- a drooling, drunk, obese stalker type pervert with a bushy face and toothless smile, who just stands there like a mute love child of Swamp Thing and King Kong, stares at us female employees for moments in silence with a sick grin, and expects us to actually speak to him like a normal human being-- that's like trying to escape a poison gas attack in a Tokyo subway tunnel.

boggiewoggie
hello how are you?
lol<\/A>/(it mean laugh out loud)
im bugging you hu cause you made that great big long speech abot hello how are you/ and i just said it. well i have no idea who youare and you have no idea who i am so bi!

boggiewoggie
hey im so bored u have no idea omg<\/A>/(oh my god) well im a myster girl hu .you guys say bad word here hu. so fuck fucky fucker opps im a nauty girl hu.i keep saying hu hu or right thats better

imagedust
I couldn't agree with you more! Something that really, really bugs me is the gross over use of standard conversation openers. Can't we just skip the retarded banter, and get on with an intelligent conversation???

Great post, even for an oldie :)
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