Violating a Social Norm and the Observable Result

People’s characteristics and behaviors become known to those around us depending on how we act, speak, and relate to others. Given this perspective, we often form opinions based on the foregoing statement. Speaking out, for instance, especially to close peers usually creates relationships by letting others know how to approach, act, and have meaningful conversations when they are around us. I have always been known to be an open character, social, outspoken, and not hesitant to take the lead in speaking my mind when discussing over an issue with colleagues at any given time.


I planned to act quietly for one week, stop the tendency of being an active member of the class, suddenly become secretive in all that I do, spend most of the time in isolation and act as somebody deep in thoughts most of the time. Peer verbal communication would be limited as much as possible, and instead give preferences to written communication as if I were deaf and could not speak. I would have animated conversations to myself in public at times, act confused- at times sit in other classmates chairs and wait to be reminded to go to my place. My interactive processes would be limited to signaling language and act somebody having stress and needs urgent help.

Social norms guides daily code of conduct and determine how one behaves in certain situations. They are often strictly enforced, and offenders usually are rebuked for their conduct. I anticipate whispers from friends questioning my newfound state of affairs and most importantly a strategy to inquire into the problems plaguing my thoughts. I also expect to be yelled at when I sit in others chairs and be told nasty things.


Indeed, much of the human behavior is determined by the social norms. Though unwritten, these norms are embedded in people’s thoughts and deeply influence people’s reactions on those who violate them. Within a day, classmates noticed the behavior change and quite a number had difficulties putting up with the strange behaviors. The reactions received from peers were wide-ranging in scope and strength. Losing personality by violating social norms may fun because one gets to know whether others are concerned or not in dire circumstances. I felt different, an outcast, and seemingly very weird in doing things against the natural order. I met outright hostility when and scorn for avoiding peers, speaking alone and putting my conversations to paper. Several classmates actually concluded that I had developed mental problem. Others reported my case to the school management for immediate help. My relationship with others became frosty and I had to tell them that this was an experiment after the whole exercise.


Social norms are certainly products of given culture and as such, awareness of the local norms is imperative for the proper functioning of a given group of individuals. Sudden change of behaviors is totally unwelcome and has the possibility of destroying relationships if not well managed. Society uniqueness is defined by norms. Once engendered into the functioning of a given society, the concept ethnocentrism comes in, and any deviation is strongly resisted. Ethnocentrism often prompts the society to guard jealously the revered norms and constantly compare and keeps an eye on those in violation. Any deviation is considered inferior. Almost everyone looked at me with suspicion and could not bear constant reminders over simple issues. In as much as it may be fun to pick up unorthodox behaviors, we must always seek and uphold the importance of social norms by recognizing the positive role they play in determining our day today interactions.  

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