26 April 2006

Why I hate pleasantries.

Authenticity is a quality that I prize more than most other qualities. I want to have the real deal. I want to know who someone really is. I want the truth. I want honestly. I want realness.
I am a true Gen X-er.
This is part of the reason I hate pleasantries. You know--those annoying little things that people say just to fill space. Things like "how are you" and "good morning" and "how's it going." People don't really mean those things. At least 90% of the time they don't mean them. They are just saying those things because they are trying to fill uncomfortable silence. They are trying to feel like functioning members of society. Maybe they are trying to build repoire with the other person.
There is one guy I work with. Guy Who Does Not Wash Hands after Using the Bathroom. He has a habit of just going around and saying everyone's names in a "voice" whenever you see him. Nice guy. But this is what he does all day long. So to me, every time he sees me, it is my initials. I am Initial Girl. "Emo" he says in sort of a Frank Sinatra-crooner come radio announcer fashion.
Pleasantry. He doesn't know what to say to me.
I prefer a smile or a nod rather than a verbal acknowledgement. Because if you really have something to say to me, God, please let it mean something. Please let it be authentic. Please don't let it be "Good morning" or "How are you" because I can bet that you don't really mean it. You are just filling space.
People have a hard time with silence. They have a propensity to want to fill it. Silence makes people uncomfortable.
I think silence is golden.
I once saw this great Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Elaine were talking about uncomfortable silences. And I don't know who, Jerry or Elaine, but one of them said that the depth of a friendship or relationship can be measured by how long your comfortable silences are. Friends are comfortable just being. Just existing. They don't need to fill the space to feel a connection--they already know there is one.
So, when I see people at work every day, I don't feel compelled to have pleasantries about nothing. I feel compelled to have pleasantries about something. Something that matters. Something serious, something funny, something non-work related, something work related. But please, don't let it be about nothing.
And conversational lulls. It is natural for a conversation to lull. It doesn't make you or your compatriots uninteresting. It means that you are pondering something to say next. So, you don't have to say things like "Wow" constantly or sigh or anything. It's ok to have silence. It really is. No one will die. No one's feelings will be hurt.
But, instead, people fill the silence with pleasantries.
I also think, on a related note, that it is weird to acknowledge the time of day as a form of greeting. Saying "good morning" to me is about as useful as saying "Happy 4 o'clock." What does that mean, anyway?? Saying goodmorning...good evening....whatever. It's odd, if you think about it, that the time of day is also a greeting. What is wrong with "hello?" Hello--a wonderful, universal, meaningful word. It means--I acknowledge you, but I am not asking a quesiton about your life that I don't really mean. It is authentically pleasant rather than plastically pleasant.
I don't like plastic. I don't like fake. So, I refuse to exchange meaningless pleasantries, and I do my best not to receive them either. My friends know this about me. So, I hope that they realize, too, that when I actually do ask how they are, I actually, authentically, truly mean it. I truly want to know. I just want more people to talk about things that really matter to them. And to actually feel comfortable answering truthfully when someone asks them how they are.


Post a Comment

<< Home