They guide social behavior because going against any sort of norm is looked upon by other people in a manner that draws attention to the person going against the norm. In general, the attention that people receive for breaking a norm is negative and the person therefore tries to avoid breaking social norms. Norms that I have seen been broken include people walking on the ring side of the sidewalk, as well as people wearing shorts when it’s snowing.
For my social norm breaking experiment, I mowed instead of greeting people with the normal “hello”, “her, or “hi. ” The social norm in American is that when someone approaches you or addresses you, to return the expression in a polite and cooperative manner. It goes back to basic communication and expressing/ acknowledging that there is another person in your presence. Whenever anyone came into my work that day where I am a hostess, I would wait for him or her o greet me and swiftly respond with very convincing cat’s meow and then continue my conversation with the customers.
My experiences ranged through out the day and depended on the way people reacted to me. When people mowed back and me and we were able to laugh about the situation, it was very comfortable and people seemed to feel more at ease around me because they also didn’t take themselves too seriously. On the other hand, there were people who just stared at me or took a defensive/judgmental stance and would either ask why I just did that or start laughing at me. A couple groups, after I took them to their table, started whispering about me when I turned to walk away, but I was still in hearing distance.
These situations definitely made me feel extremely uncomfortable, and honestly there were points that stopped doing it for a while, because of how awkward and embarrassed was. My friends at work, along with my family, just kind of went along with it and pretended nothing weird had just happened. After the initial encounter, I told them what I was doing ND that it was for a social experiment, to which most of them just laughed and said they thought I was just having some fun.
There would not be many social ramifications from this becoming the norm in society. It would just be a different thing that had become normal. I do not think that society would be better off or worse off due to this kind of shifting of behavior. If only I started behaving this way from then on, I would probably lose some respect from people and it would make for some very uncomfortable circumstances.