"Good. How are you?"
"I'm fine, thanks."
I'm sure you've had this exact conversation, or a similar one, on a regular basis.
I'd venture to guess that it is one of the most common conversations.
I was thinking about this and I came to the conclusion that there is no feeling behind the words. Sure, maybe saying hi is heartfelt, but when someone asks how are you do you really think they care? OBVIOUSLY YOU DON'T BECAUSE THEN YOU'D PROBABLY SAY SOMETHING OTHER THAN GOOD OR FINE!! But you do say that, because its expected. Even if you're having a terrible day, you say I'm good, thanks. And out of habit, you ask how are you in return. They respond in the same way you did. All of this happens in just a few seconds. There is no emotion connected to the conversation and then you continue walking in the direction you were headed. [keep in mind you probably didn't actually stop in the first place.] You probably go on to forget about the person who just interrupted your original thought process.
I find this a difficult conversation because I'm usually not just good or fine, but theres no time to elaborate. Usually when I try to expand my answer I end up talking really fast to fit it all in. Then I remember they don't care. Then I cut it short and I sound like an idiot whose just making awkward noises.
Sometimes, however, people say "What's up?" DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED!
It's all just silly. If you don't have this conversation with people, you come off as a Scrooge. And if you do, then you're simply just saying emotionless words.