March 12, 2001
"Breaking the Norms"
It is 9:00 PM on a Sunday night. Televisions all across America tune into MTV. Millions of viewers will now spend the next thirty minutes watching a television program titled "Jackass". While watching this program, the viewers will observe everything from people eating hard boiled eggs in an attempt to purposely vomit, to a man testing out various self defense devices on himself. Next week viewers will tune into the same program to see the same kinds of stunts performed. The reason that America watches these kinds of programs, and the participants in them perform these stunts, are because "norms" are being broken. A norm is something that is generally accepted by a society as the right thing to do, or the way things are supposed to be. For example, a norm would be to enter an elevator and stand facing the front for the duration of the trip. Breaking that norm would be to enter the elevator and face the back for the duration of the trip. It is not what is expected. Different norms exist in different societies, and when these norms are broken within these societies people pay attention, because it is not an occurrence observed on a regular basis.
For our class project, each student was asked to break a norm that exists in our society and record the reactions of observers and results of the experiment. The norm I chose to break was the idea of driving normally-the belief that cars should be driven by pushing the gas pedal and moving in a forward motion, not a reverse motion.
The implement needed for this task was simply a car. I awoke at approximately 12:45 PM on Saturday March 9, 2001. I immediately showered and got dressed. After doing so I got the keys to my parents' car, and backed out of my driveway. Since my house is in the middle of my street, I drove to the end of my street as I normally would, then pulled into a neighbor's driveway. I then proceeded to back out of the neighbor's...