In my world, ‘Hey’ attracts attention (‘Hey look at that’), expresses annoyance (‘Hey stop that!), shows surprise (‘Hey what’s going on here?’) or signals interest (‘Hey nice shoes!’).
So how do you feel when someone you don’t know emails or messages you out of the blue with the greeting ‘Hey’?
It annoys me. Why? Because I think it shows a lack of judgement and a lack of respect. Even if they use my name and say ‘Hey Linda’ it grates. It just feels like they’re trying to be my friend too soon. Trying to bounce their way into my attention, like a young puppy. Yes, puppies are cute. But I’m not thinking of doing business or networking with them!
There are lots of people bemoaning the lack of etiquette and the loss of our language; they’ve been doing this for years. We had a similar debate when we shifted from ‘Dear’ to ‘Hi’, reserving ‘Dear’ for only the most formal of correspondence.
I know that language is constantly evolving – it’s not dying, it’s just changing and that’s inevitable. And each group has its own social norms around language – variations are natural. However when one variation is at complete odds with another’s that can cause misunderstandings and potential friction.