How many times per day do you ask (or are you asked) "how are you doing?" or "what's up?" or some other form of the the two? And of those times, how often do you get (or give) a real response other than "good" or "pretty good" or "not much" or "same ole', same ole" or some form of those very blah, generic responses?
I believe we are all PROGRAMMED to EXPECT these questions and responses as we pass people in the halls or sidewalks or wherever, in an effort to not appear rude, but with no real expectation of an ACTUAL legitimate answer. We simply ask (or answer) and keep moving with whatever we are doing. We even answer (or receive an answer) to the opposite question that was asked. EXAMPLE - "how are you?" gets a response of "not much" - anticipating one of the usual questions, you (or the other person) spout out the usual, generic response, but to the wrong question.
No real conversation is expected, just two people trying not to appear rude.
This happens every day, every minute, everywhere. And today after witnessing it yet again, I decided to run a social experiment. I was out in our hangar watching some helos take off, and one of our civilian contractors was approaching. I began walking toward him, and when we were about 10 - 12 feet apart, I mumbled some gibberish - not even real words. Sure enough, as we passed each other, he said "good, how about you?" AND NEVER EVEN SLOWED DOWN OR LOOKED BACK.
FASCINATING. I LOVE IT. I highly recommend that you try it out.