By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — When did “hey” become the casual greeting of choice? Gradually, it’s been replacing “hello,” “good morning,” “bye” and even “hi.”
When you’ve already greeted someone for the day at the office, for instance, it doesn’t seem appropriate to say “Hi” when you see him or her a few minutes later in the break room, at the water cooler, or strolling off to another meeting. But “hey” always seems okay.
It’s casual, friendly in a noncommittal mode ... a neutral way of acknowledging the presence of another creature in your environment.
It can be the equivalent of a poke on Facebook, when you don’t have the time, energy or inclination for any kind of real communication.
Maybe we need an online “hey” option: something between “poke” and “like,” for people who aren’t willing or ready to commit to liking but feel a little too strongly to leave it at a poke.
Of course, “hey” can offer a lot of room for emotional expansion and self-expression, and it’s all right there in the official Merriam-Webster/Dictionary.com definition for hey: “Used to attract attention, to express surprise, interest, or annoyance, or to elicit agreement.”
Depending on your inflection, “hey” could be a protest, an expression of approval, excitement, even coy seduction.
Of course, without the real-time, face-time, or even the voice inflections or facial expressions in a Skype or phone call, you’ll need some help to get your real message across via e-mail, text or tweet.
If you aren’t into emoticons, you can experiment with punctuation.
Try the alarmed or enthusiastic “Hey!”
Take it to the next level with “Hey!!” Or get extreme with “HEY!!!!!!”
Retreat to shy befuzzlement with “Hey?” Or the even more timid “hey....?”
Go old school with a retro variation on the Fonz’s cool, self-confident, or even flirtatious, “Heeeyyyyy!”
Say “hey” with music: “Hey, Jude,” “Hey, hey, hey” advice to “Mrs. Robinson,” “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “Hey, Soul Sister” or “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.”
Of course, some prefer the safety of taking refuge in the neutral DMZ of hey.
But others of us will always be seekers, working to discover where hey came from, probing why hey is here and wondering if it can boldly go where no hey has gone before.
C’mon. Let’s go on a “hey” ride.
Explore international variations. When in Canada, substitute “Eh?”
Legendary Sioux warrior Crazy Horse famously issued the war cry, “Hoka Hey,” which is variously translated by urbandictionary.com as “clear the path,” or “to live life in such as way that one has done all that one should upon one’s last day, so it is indeed a good day to die.”
Do some online research at cool sites like www.ancient-hebrew.org, where you’ll discover hey is the word for a Hebrew letter meaning “behold, look, breath and sigh.” The site even has some graphics (much cooler than emoticons, by the way) showing the evolution of the symbol for the letter hey, which started, in ancient times, with a little stick figure guy with both arms raised. Some mystic traditions have it that “Hey” represents the divine breath, revelation, ancient humanity’s greeting for God, or the word for the God principal itself. Or, given the divine breath concept, maybe it was God’s word in the beginning: a divine greeting and acknowledgment to creation itself.
Maybe it all started with a “hey,” not a big bang.
Hey, it’s something to think about, eh?
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at email@example.com; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to www.lcsun-news.com and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.