The Thinking Woman's Diary

The lost (he)art of hello...

Written: 28th Aug 2016  | Last Updated: 28th Aug 2016

One of the really nice things about sharing the planet with fellow humans is the interaction we build by simply relating to one another, by exchanging greetings, particularly with people we don’t actually know. We smile and say “hello”...they smile and say “hello” back. It doesn’t need to be any more profound than that, though very often one thing can lead to another and a new friendship, or even a new romance, can be born. 

But things don’t need to get complicated...that smile can just be a gesture of openness, of thoughtfulness, of politeness offered to a fellow passer-by, another dog-walker, a like-minded jogger...or as thanks to someone for picking up the shopping list you dropped in the supermarket...or to brighten someone else’s day as you pile into the lift to zoom up to your offices...or occasionally, in acknowledgement of another’s obvious need for a little bit of kindness. 

This simple smile from the heart, this “cheerio” call, used to be the norm (if not mandatory)...a celebration of life and the gift of living, a salute to someone else sharing the same moment on the same path.

But now, our ears are plugged into a soundtrack of our own choosing - ignoring the birds, breeze and boughs around us, ignoring human voices - to ignite our Fitbit pace and purpose (must lose weight, must go faster); we are so pressed for time, we do not seek contact with a person who has nothing to offer...we’ve got enough on our plates; we are above the masses in our humble opinion, and do not wish to relate to those beyond our chosen circle; we avoid eye contact for fear of something or many things or everything; we stride with perfunctory purpose, with entitlement and singularity, scowling, eyes focused on a horizon of our own design.

Hence, that spontaneous, bright, friendly greeting once considered normal in all our cities, towns and neighbourhoods has been rejected by this cool new kind of humanity, dropped by the wayside (along with their dogs’ excrement they don’t bother to pick up)...dismissed as an old-fashioned quaintness which no longer has value or relevance.

My husband and I love walking our dogs, but now the afternoons are infected with this above-mentioned self-importance. Yesterday, again, as per every single day, we smiled and said “hello” to folks walking the same path. Response? None. The look? Indignant...get-out-of-my-space.

Goodbye, hello. :-(