This was an interesting chapter. It made me reflect on the concept of greetings.
A greeting basically marks the beginning of any relationship.
By removing that ability, I will never again be able to hold a substantial relationship.
In other words, … never greeting anyone in your lifetime means never making any friends.
It’s the same as giving up all the friends you’ve made or would make in an entire lifetime.
I had always loathe greetings and goodbyes phrases. There was a phase in my life when I thought they were a waste of time, repetitive, redundant, and unnecessarily creates future expectations. For example, I enter a classroom and see a friend, and I have to say “hi” or “good morning”. If I do it once, then firstly, there’s an expectation that when we part that day we have to say the goodbyes. Secondly, it creates an expectation for both parties that the next day/time I see them again, I have to greet them, and repeat that pattern the next time. Consequently, if either party don’t maintain that pattern, there will be feelings of guilt or awkardness.
Alternatively, I can choose not to greet, then I’m seen as anti-social because I’m not meeting those expectations (though really, at that phase I just wanted meaningful conversations, not just conversations involving repeating stock-standard phrases/topics).
Then there’s the issue of effort: should it be or should it not be that you have to actively and consciously maintain your relationships with your friends?
I say it is redundant because if I enter a classroom, generally speaking, the other person would notice. Why is it necessary that we have an expectation that we must ‘verbally’ acknowledge each person’s arrival/existence, everytime? Is not eye contact sufficient? (in today’s society, it generally isn’t, because of the expectation of a verbal greeting)
I say it is repetitive because pretty much it is a stock-standard phrase with not much variation.
I still loathe greetings etc, for the reasons above, but not as much as before. That is because I recognise some of the beneficial purposes that it fulfills.
So, it was surprising to consider the hypothetical situation of the removal of greetings in this chapter.
I think the primary reason why the loss of the ability to greet equals never making any friends has to do with the fact that greetings are expected in our social interactions. If you imagine a society that does not expect people to greet others in social interactions/situations, then arguably, Michiru’s loss of greeting would have no effective impact on her ability to make friends or maintain relationships. I mean, just consider her interactions with her family, or your own interactions with your family. Do you have to actively say ‘good morning’ everytime you wake up and see them? If not, does your relationship with them deteriorate because you didn’t do so? Clearly, there is a different expectation in families.
Therefore, I say greetings are social constructs. It is ONE way to facilitate social interaction. But is not in my opinion the best way do achieve that purpose. What is the true value in something that anyone can say in a stock-standard way?