Is it Rude to Not Say Hello

My girlfriend and I were just having a debate about a question of etiquette.

She says it’s ok if you see someone on the street that you know you just walk past them without acknowledging them. I say you at least say hello or wave.

She claims that this is how she was raised and it’s a waste of time to talk to someone for a minute. I think it is incredibly rude to ignore someone you know.

I was raised in the midwest(Chicago and Michigan) and she’s from Boston.

So what do you do when you see someone you know and where are you from.

I find your GF’s opinion a bit strange. I will often give a nod or quick comment to a stranger, if we make eye contact, I can’t imagine ignoring a friend or aquaintance unless it’s purposeful, or I couldn’t place them until it was too late.

Not acknowledging someone goes against the very fiber of my being.

I even smile at strangers.

I think it is rude not to acknowledge someone you know on the street. You don’t always have to talk and chat, but you should at least nod or say hello.

Well, there should be at least some kind of acknowledgment of the person!! Depending on how well you know the person, it doesn’t actually even have to include saying hello or waving – even just some raised eyebrows and a smile of acknowledgment would be enough. But there should be something. If I walked by someone on the street and I knew they saw me and they didn’t acknowledge me at all, I would take it as a snub.

I used to work with a guy who would not say hello to me even when I said hello first. I’d get to work and say “Hi Nick, how ya doing?”, and he would not answer or respond, or even look at me. Instead, he’d just start harping on me right away. This happened all the time, and I thought it was very rude. I hated that guy.

I’m with Auntbeast - even strangers will get smile and nod, or maybe a low “howdy”, if we make eye-contact.
Friends get all the time they need, or an apology if I’m in a hurry.


Even here in MA we say hello to people we know. Strangers get a cold stare down though.

The gf and I are leaving for Boston tommorow and she mentioned the rudeness to strangers thing. Whats that all about? And I know it’s not just a “city thing”. Everytime I go to Chicago and ask for directions/bum a smoke/ask to use someone’s cell phone, I’ve always been treated very nicely.

She is wrong and was apparently rasied to be rude. Failing to acknowledge an aquaintance when you meet them is very rude. Even worse when it is a friend who is being slighted. This behavior has a name (it is called ‘cutting’) and is so very rude that it is justification for ending a friendship.

There is no etiquette obligation to acknowledge strangers, BTW, so ignoring people you don’t know isn’t really rude, although it’s certainly not very friendly. Me, I smile and nod to just about anyone I make eye-contact with.

Don’t carry a violin case, do you?

It is def an MA thing. In DC, outside of downtown where the people from Northern VA and Maryland congregate, a “how y’all doing?” Is obigitory, even to drug dealers who will respond in kind.

I have an ex-co-worker who has had some sort of mental/social breakdown. She no longer talks to anyone at work unless she absolutely has to. She’ll veer to the far side of the hallway to impress upon you her desire to have NO CONTACT outside that which she’s forced to partake in.

We call her the Dutchess of Darkness. I can loan the name to your girlfriend if you’d like. :wink:

I have no idea. It just seems to be how we are. I lived in VA for a bit and it was hard to get used to people saying hi to me all the time.

Well, I’m from Boston, and I was raised on the idea that ignoring someone you have met is rude. Of course, my Dad’s from Chicago, so what the hell do I know?

Born and raised in Boston, and apparently raised much better.

I can’t imagine what the benefit of ignoring someone you know would be. Your girlfriend likely expends more effort in pretending not to have seen the person than it would have taken to say hello.

When you meet an acquaintance on the street, a simple greeting is the bare minimum that politeness requires, in my opinon.

I live in Boston, too, and I’ve never seen this. I’ve always exchanged “hellos” with people I know on the street. I’ve almost always gotten a smile and “thank you” from strangers when holding doors open or giving up my seat on the subway. Actually, Boston in general is quite nice.

Then again, my radar might be skewed. I grew up in a bunch of shitty PA farmtowns with big “fuck you” attitudes toward outsiders in general. I’ve found cities to be much more courteous in general.

I think you should break up with your girlfriend, and then when you run into each other six months later just walk past her without acknowledging her, and see what she does.

My niece’s father did that to her.

How does your niece’s father know the OP’s girlfriend?

Okay but seriously, that is rude. I mean unless you’re talking about a situation where it was a terrible breakup and you just can’t stand the person anymore, I can’t think of any reason not to say hello. soul radiation, are you sure your girlfriend wasn’t talking about when you see someone that you know, but don’t like?

She says it is a waste of time to talk to someone for a minute, but how does she lose any time by simply nodding, waving, and/or saying “Hi”?
Would she walk past you? Her mother?
I tend to be on the other end of the spectrum. While I don’t say “Hi” to folks on crowded downtown Chicago sidewalks, I do think it is odd when I am walking in my relatively quiet suburb, and I pass a stranger, and they don’t even make eye contact. Or if I am running on a path, and I pass someone running the other way and they don’t make eye contact, nod, or give a little wave.
Seems to me that it would take more effort to NOT acknowledge another human being, than to simply acknowledge their existence. If a person is unwilling to do even that minimal act of civility, I don’t hold out much hope for your doing anything that actually requires any real effort and/or sacrifice.