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Sometimes you'll run across a cynic who doesn't understand why people greet each other with "How are you?".
Well, it's just one more of the many things that cynics aren't smart enough to understand.
The obvious first point is that it expresses interpersonal concern and thus reinforces the human community. You can't say that that's a bad thing.
But taking it further, it gives both parties an opportunity for a boost.
"How are you?"
"Great, man, really good. How's yourself?"
"Terrific! Life is good..."
Now, it just might be that one or both of these guys might have been having a real bad, unlucky day. They might be ready to just check out of life and drink for a couple days.
But social convention just drove them to admit that it ain't all bad, and you can be sure that both of them leave the encounters feeling a little better.
You can't say that that's a bad thing, either.
I"ll bet that cashiers who have to assert out loud that they are fine or better, hundreds of times a day, come out as happier people than they might if they were in another kind of job. Maybe there are therapy opportunities here.