The “How’s it going?” Paradigm

“How’s it going?”

Any time we hear this phrase as we pass someone in a hall, on the street, etc. the response is always that same:


The weird thing is, this isn’t always true. I was able to observe a great example of this recently as our campus went through what is called “the housing lottery”. Basically, you choose where you want to live on campus for the upcoming year, and then you wait to get your lottery time. If your time is good enough then you’ll be able to select the room that you want before other people in the school take it. If your time isn’t good enough then your hopes and dreams will be crushed. It’s a lot like the Hunger Games except instead of 2 people being screwed from each district, nearly everyone gets screwed.


And may the odds be ever in your favour.

Anyway, on the day of the lottery (or “The Reaping” as it’s affectionately known) no one is happy. Before everything is all settled everyone is stressed out of their mind worrying about what is going to happen, and after everything is all settled a good portion of people are angry and frustrated because things didn’t work out as well as they had hoped. 

Even on the darkest day of the year the response was nearly always “good” when “How’s it going?” was thrown out there. I know that I, myself, fell victim to this. I was walking across campus and a friend of mine walked by and said “Hey! How’s it going?” to which of course I responded, “Good!” and continued along my way. It took me three more steps before I realized that; no, I was not “good”. My housing situation stunk, I was stressed and frustrated. I was further from “good” that day than I have been in months, and yet my knee-jerk reaction was to respond the way I always respond and the way nearly everyone responds.

So why do we do this?

I’ve thought of a couple different possibilities. It could be a societal expectation that we are subconsciously trying to fulfil. If we do not meet that societal norm than we are different (which is bad apparently). We could be judged as self-centered jerks if we decided to elaborate and go into detail about how we are. The likely result would be forced exile.

It could be that we really have no idea how we are in that moment of contact. Like an easily distracted child we see someone that asks us “How’s it going” and our mind switches to a kind of “ooh, something shiny” mentality and we answer quickly and mindlessly.

It could also be that we are all malicious liars that are trying to spread falsehoods about our daily lives, but that seems a little extreme.

Then again, it could be I’m over-analysing something insignificant again. *woot*


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