You can kiss my grits and call me a stinker–I really DGARA–but there are some questions I tire of hearing “answers” to.
“How are you?” and its slightly better, less common, companion, “How are you doing?” are two of them. The now archaic-sounding “How do you do?” (still remotely and occasionally present in the greeting, “Howdy”) is another one.
“Why?”, you may ask. Go ahead, I said you may ask. *heh*
Nowadays, the most common answer I hear to either “How are you?” or even “How are you doing?” is the nonsense answer, “I’m good.” Persons answering either of those questions would be better to simply grunt a nonsense monosyllabic, “Uh.” Are they truly good? Just bragging disingenuously? Outright liars or simply ill-informed, ignorant of their own corrupt natures? No, such respondents are not “good” although they may feel well and be experiencing little or no distress. Besides, the question is not “What are you?” but “How are you?” and I doubt anyone can really answer that one without resorting to a religious exposition. It’s a matter of epistemology that certainly none of the philosophers I have read have answered satisfactorily. Indeed, how are any of us? How do we come to be and continue to exist, if exist we truly do, in a state of consciousness–if conscious we truly are?
If the question responded to happened to be “How are you doing?” then such an answer is still nonsense. “I’m good” as a response still avoids the “How” and has no information whatsoever about what good the person is doing, if any at all (most persons seem to live a quotidian existence without doing anything good at all–and rarely do anything really well, either). And again with the epistemology thingy. Indeed, if Descartes was onto something, then most people simply aren’t, you know?
All either party–asker and answerer–in these greeting formulas accomplishes with such exchanges is just the expulsions of exhaled gases through their respective vocal apparatuses resulting in nonsense sounds, empty of any exchange of meaning. Wasted breath, IMO.
Rare indeed is the person who will answer either of those questions, “I’m well” or “I’m doing well.”
I’ll leave the deconstruction and analysis of answers to “How do you do?” as an exercise for the reader.
BTW, when asked “How are you?” I usually respond, “I don’t know. That’s one of the deepest quandaries of metaphysics, and although many have asked the question and searched for answers, no one has been able to answer the question satisfactorily. What do you think? How am I?” I similarly riff off “How are you doing?”
But I’m not usually asked those questions. Often, I beat folks to the “greet” with, “How am I doing?” The completely clueless will respond with the pedestrian nonsense grunt of “I’m good” since they’ll not have heard the question. The slightly more aware might say, “You’re good” and smile at the sharpness they think they’ve displayed. Of course, when I respond, “Well, I’m flattered, but I’m hardly good. Even Jesus said, ‘There is none good but God’ and I’m not easily mistaken for God, you know?” it causes a wee cognitive dissonance. *heh* The brighter respondents will come back with something along the lines of either, “Well, you look all right [or even ‘good’ or ‘well’] to me” (“Need a trip to the optometrist, eh?” :-)) or even, “I don’t know” (Better). Best, “Oh, dear! [peering at me with “concerned look” written plainly on mug] You should be home in bed I’ll bring some chicken soup by later.” (An actual response from someone I enjoy “speaking in [nonsense] tongues” with around other, befuddled-by-our-nonsense, folks.)
But I don’t always use the “How am I doing?” line. More often, I’ll simply use a form of the neutral, also meaningless, “Good morning [afternoon, evening]” greeting, although most often in the more laconic, “Mornin’ [afternoon, evenin’]. Such a non-committal, inoffensive nonsense greeting serves the function of social lubricant better, IMO.
Of course, with friends or family, instead of casual acquaintances and chance-met strangers, I know I can engage in a genuine greeting/response, but those two classes of persons really aren’t all that common, you know?