I’m Fine= Something is Wrong
Q: “Hey man, are you okay?”
A: “Ya, I’m fine”
Q: “How are you doing?”
A: “I’m fine.”
Q: “Is everything alright with us right now?”
A: “Yes everything is fine.”
Dictionary.com’s first definition of the word fine is “of superior or best quality”. On the contrary, the word fine in today’s hyper-connected society has a whole meaning. When you ask a friend how they are doing, the absolute worst reply you can get is “fine”. All this really says is that there is definitely something wrong. You can read into the response one of two ways. It can be taken as your friend does not want to talk about it at all, or conversely, they want you to inquire further and give them an opportunity to vent about why they are fine.
I am not sure how this word’s meaning has made such a drastic transition in the modern context of texting and other modes of communication, but it most definitely has. Tone of my best friends made me aware of this shift in meaning, and once I pondered it I saw the real issue. The problem with today’s touch screen junkie generation is the conflict between one’s need for genuine human interaction and the tremendously impersonal platform on which we all choose to do the majority of our communicating – texting. Do not get me wrong; texting is a beautiful, revolutionary invention that allows us to maintain communication and relationships with people who are time zones and continents away with just a few taps on a screen. However, it reinforces the misperception that a simple text can communicate the wide range and depth of human emotions that are communicated during a face-to-face conversation.
Fine, obviously nothing is fine when you see this term pop up in the middle of a conversation or text. Our ability to trust and communicate our full range of emotions is something that we each can work on. So next time someone asks you how you are doing think, do not reply with the nearly insulting term fine. Instead, try some honesty by simply saying, “ I am not in the mood to talk about it right now but thank you for asking because I know you care.” When you respond with the word fine you are not being honest and you are also sending an f mixed signals to the other person.
Regardless of the platform we choose, our words have power. Each word we speak is for a reason. As Peter Parker’s deceased Uncle said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” So next time you are texting, talking or communicating with someone in any way, remember to be intentional with the words choose.