“How are you?”
A phrase used that often that it has lost it’s real meaning.
It shows less of the concern for another person’s well being and more the ever present ignorance.
It became nothing more than a casual greeting.
I’ve even heard or read somewhere that this phrase somewhat became the new “Hello”.
A term with no particular meaning.
A mere set phrase.
Something no one is really interested in getting an answer to anymore.
I’m not entirely sure about that. Though I can only speak/write of my own experience and usage of the phrase.
If someone asks “How are you?” the usual reply is “I’m fine”.
Not giving away any feelings and thoughts simply replying without saying anything.
I see this phrase more or less like a mere filler in the conversation.
With no reasoning whatsoever behind it.
Personally I don’t like being asked this question.
On the one hand I mostly think that they do not want to get an answer anyway.
So I only reply with “Muss ja.”
Unfortunately I haven’t found an English reply fitting the meaning of it.
Literally it would be translated to “(It) Has to.” or something like that.
On the other hand I like to confront them with what really is on my mind, curious how they would react.
Simply telling them that this, this and that went wrong or bothers me, but aside from that I’m fine.
It is always interesting to see the result.
And of course I’m polite enough to ask in return.
Well, in German like in English there are different ways of asking:
How are you? – Wie geht’s (dir)?
How is it going? – Wie läuft’s?
What’s up? – Was geht ab?
and so forth (they are not necessarily the translation of each other).
If the question is to ridiculous I tend to just make up random answer using those phrases and making fun of them.
Like for example: “What’s up?” “The opposite of down.”
Depending on my mood I might add a serious answer.
But as I said: This phrase does not necessarily hold a meaning anymore.
Therefore I personally only use it when I really want to know how someone is feeling/whatnot.
And I appreciate it, if I get a serious answer as well.
People who conversed with me a lot know this and do not bother to ask if I don’t.
Therefore: If you ever get into a conversation with me and I do not ask you how you are.
Do not be offended I am one of the few people only asking this when I’m really interested in getting an answer.
Partly it also is because I do not want to answer the question myself, but that’s a different story.
If I really want to know it, then I will surely ask you.