Violate A Social Norm Assignment

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Social norms act as standards for behavior, with deviation often resulting in negative attention. Thus, individuals endeavor to abide by social norms to prevent unwelcome scrutiny. Instances of norm violations include walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk and wearing shorts during snowy weather.

For my social norm breaking experiment, instead of saying “hello”, “hi”, or “hey”, I decided to mow at people. In America, it is customary to respond politely and cooperatively when someone approaches or speaks to you. This practice is rooted in basic communication and the acknowledgment of another person’s presence. As a hostess at my workplace, whenever a customer entered, I waited for them to greet me, after which I responded with a convincing meow before continuing our conversation.

My experiences throughout the day were different based on people’s reactions. Positive responses and shared laughter created a comfortable atmosphere, where others felt at ease by not taking themselves too seriously. However, some individuals stared or took a defensive/judgmental stance. They would question my actions or even laugh at me. Leading groups to their tables, I overheard them whispering about me as I walked away, still able to hear.

These situations made me feel extremely uneasy, to the extent that I temporarily refrained from engaging in them due to the discomfort they caused. Surprisingly, both my colleagues and family members seemed oblivious to the strangeness of it all. Once I clarified that it was merely a social experiment after the initial incident, most of them responded by laughing and assuming I was simply messing around.

If this behavior were to become the societal standard, it would simply be a new normal with unlikely significant positive or negative consequences. Nevertheless, exclusively adopting this behavior may lead to loss of respect and uncomfortable situations.

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