Norm Breaking

Good Essays
A norm is simply a rule that society has chosen to follow. They are almost always based

on the values that that society holds dear, but do not always make sense when considered from

a logical viewpoint. There are always consequences for breaking norms and they can be good or

bad and formal, official, or informal, unofficial.

The norm that I am breaking is “waiting in a checkout line in a grocery store.” Normally you join a line at the end and wait your turn. This is based on a desire that everyone be fair to

each other, even in the simplest of circumstances. Basically this norm is a natural extension of

the “golden rule” that almost everyone I know grew up with; Do unto others as you would have

them do unto you.

I went to a busy Smith’s store that I never visit and bought a few groceries. But instead

of getting in a line at the back, I just cut up as far as I could to the front of the line. I only tried

this once as I wanted to avoid any formal, negative consequences. I tried this at a few gas

stations as well to get a more diverse group of results. Once I was asked to move to the back of

the line, I obliged to see the contrast between, before I broke the norm, when I was breaking

the norm, and after I had broken the norm but wasn’t breaking it anymore.

People reacted by giving me dirty looks, coughing, and asking me to move to the back

of the line. The people that I cut in front were universally annoyed with me to say the least.

The cashiers, when they noticed, politely asked me to move to the back of the line. However

one of the gas station clerks was anything but polite and asked me if I “had a problem.” The

reactions were also determined somewhat by age and social status. The older a person was or

the “higher” the class they portrayed or belonged to, the more open they were with their non-

verbal reaction. The older people were less likely to verbally critique my actions, but it felt like

the “upper” class was a little more vocal when they

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