Social norms and their effects are often nebulous. To feel how powerful even insignificant social norms can be, try breaking one. Pick a social norm that seems inconsequential to you and break it. Consider the following options:
- Look up (at the sky or ceiling) all the time
- Say “hello” to everyone
- When people ask how you are doing, tell them about your whole day
- Wear your clothes backwards
- Don’t take your coat, hat and gloves off while you are inside
- Violate people’s personal space
- Whisper when you talk
- Talk to strangers
- Face the back of the elevator
- Push buttons to floors you’re not going to
- Don’t get off
- Don’t get on – tell people you’ll wait for the next one
Classroom Behavior (if you are in a face-to-face class):
- Make constant eye contact with the instructor
- Talk and then raise your hand
- Eat soup with a fork
- Eat steak with a knife and spoon
- Eat with your hands
You get the idea… feel free to come up with your own social norm to break!
This assignment can be a lot of fun. It can also feel awkward and uncomfortable when you feel how deeply ingrained norms are and how uncomfortable people can be with someone not adhering to them.
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