Rohit's Realm

// / archive / 2003 / 12 / 05 / obligatory-acknowledgment

December 05, 2003

Obligatory Acknowledgment

Have you ever wondered about some of society's conventions that make absolutely no sense? I often do, as you indubitably realize, and one of the things that bugs me most is how convention demands that we acknowledge any person we have ever talked to, regardless of the depth of conversation or extent of relationship. Let me preface this discussion by first saying that this is a topic I have long wanted to write about, but never had the time to give it the effort it deserved. Let me also add that I have not slept in many, many days and my sense of good judgment (assuming it existed in the first place) has been replaced by anger and an acute hatred of everything around me. What else is new? Let's go!

One of the most frustrating things in life, besides the hordes of idiotic, slow moving, incompetent morons, is the irrationality of having to acknowledge people while walking on the streets. The acknowledgment is usually restricted (for most people) to one of three methods:

  1. You see a dear friend on the street, stop, and have a five minute conversation discussing whatever seems important in your trivial and futile lives.
  2. You see someone who you kind of know, and you do an obligatory greeting: What's up? How's it going? The person responds with Good, how about yourself? You reply, after all ready passing them, It's all good in the 'hood. Well, maybe that's not your reply, but that's not the point, you idiot! The point is that you are now having a conversation with someone who is moving in the opposite direction as you and you both have your backs turned to one another!
  3. You see someone you vaguely recognize, and as they approach you and you get a better view, you realize it's someone you spoke to in an intoxicated haze at that party last Saturday night. While they seemed really hot/interesting/exciting/awesome then, you have since realized that they are just not. You give the obligatory head nod and perhaps say what's up, but you are not under the pretense of waiting for a reply and you make that clear to the recipient of the acknowledgment.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Option (1). In fact, it is a desirable option. Everyone's life is more or less trivial and futile, mine most of all. That doesn't matter; what does matter is that you had a normal conversation with someone you saw on the street. I would define this as successful acknowledgment. It's also, to a great extent, an idealized option—at least in my life. Most of the time, I have neither the time nor the energy to stop in the middle of the street and talk to anyone, irrespective of how well I know or like the person. Thus, most of my passing interactions take a form of Option (2) and (3), making me more and more angry after each such encounter by the entirely illogical nature of society's demands.

Don't get me wrong. I don't have anything against acknowledging people who you happen to know. But the awkwardness of the behind-the-back, over-the-shoulder conversation is too much to deal with. Thus, I have resigned to a new technique to minimize and avoid all interaction that might result in this awkwardness. Here's what I do: while walking, I keep scanning at least fifty feet in front of me, and if I notice anyone who falls into a category of kind of know, I quickly reassess my paths and see if I can in any way avoid an interaction. This may seem heartless and cruel, but in reality, it's not. Real friends (or even acquaintances) should interact for more then a few seconds while walking on the street. It is best that interactions be reserved for a time and place when both parties are able to fully devote an effort to a conversation. If all a person to you is an obligatory Hey, what's up? Fine, thanks, then perhaps you need to reassess your relationship.

As for addressing the head nod issue, I am of the opinion that these sorts of interactions should just be done away with. In addition to being a rather pronounced strain on the neck (head nodding, depending on your style, can be quite taxing), these interactions serve no purpose and the relationships they intend to foster are inevitably meaningless. You barely know the person, chances are you'll probably never really talk to them again, unless it's under similar inebriated circumstances, and even if you do, you can then move them up to the kind of know class of people. More often than not, however, you'll never get to know that person and then you'll just be head nodding to them pointlessly for ever and ever! That is the worst! I still have random people I head nod to from first year even though I can't even remember their names anymore. The madness needs to end! We need to break the cycle of incompetence promoted by stupid societal conventions and cultural demands. The obligatory acknowledgment stops here and now!

Oh and by the way, my sincerest apologies to everyone I know for relegating you to being an Option (2) person—it's nothing personal, I swear. I still love you all!


hey what's up

Fine, thanks ... *looking over shoulder and yelling* how about you?

This seems pretty negative and boring. I think less of people when they avoid eye contact and don't even give any acknowledgement. It requires no effort at all. You could end up in a situation where one of you really needs the others help, but wait.. They're not a friend of mine and never talk to me so screw them!

Add Comment





* required field

E-mail addresses will never be displayed. The following HTML tags are allowed:
a abbr acronym address big blockquote br cite del em li ol p pre q small strong sub sup ul