Cluttered Box

The Awkward “You Alright?” and My Issues With It

I get it, we live in a fast-paced world where no one has time to sit and listen to someone else’s problems/happiness. So why oh why does everyone I meet ask me if I’m alright? If you don’t want to know, why do you ask? The insincerity and  forced manners instilled into us make these questions a necessity, however it is time to break from this mould if you seriously could not care less about the person you are addressing – because, yes, one can easily tell a sincere greeting from an  insincere one…

“You alright?” and “You OK?” are two of the most common phrases in the UK. We are taught that we must greet each other with respect and care about what the next person has to say. These forceful manners have come about like this:

From “How are you?” we have gone onto “Are you alright?”, from which we land on the simple yet useless question “You alright?”

Now if we were in the Victorian era, greeting an acquaintance with enthusiasm and respect were a given. Even in the 1960’s, we were stifling the need to just abruptly end conversation and move on with important things, but the millennium has brought along a whirlwind of change. It is acceptable to ask this non-question as a greeting and appear completely socially acceptable.

My problem with “You alright?” are the following:

  • It is not a proper question
  • It implies that the person addressed does not appear to be alright
  • It acts as a statement and a question, so mostly people don’t expect an answer

In conclusion, if you don’t want to know how someone is, don’t feel obliged to ask. It is awkward for you and it is awkward for them. Acquaintances are hardly going to stand in the middle of the mall and tell you their personal problems. Sometimes it is best to let it go and move on…

2 thoughts on “The Awkward “You Alright?” and My Issues With It

  1. I come from Italy and when I moved to London, two years ago, I was totally unaware that “you alright” was used a simple greeting and every time I tried to answer, the other person had already left. I considered this rude and, extremely offended, I started not answering whenever someone asked me” You alright?” and, with my surprise, it was totally ok. So Now I simply ignore the question which, anyway, is not even a question.
    I really enjoyed your article, I totally agree with you 🙂


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