Day 126: (Intentionally) break a social norm

January 7, 2011 § 2 Comments

In Sociology 101 as a college freshman, I was given the typical “break a social norm” assignment. Too insecure to actually embarrass myself in public, I made up a fake story about sitting down at other people’s tables in a mall food court and turned that in. I earned an A on the paper, but have ever since felt guilty that I didn’t actually do it.

So when I boarded one of the cars on the L this afternoon and found it empty except for a sleeping middle aged man, I decided this was my chance to make things right (or wrong, depending on how you look at it).

He had a thick mustache, was overweight and was wearing a puffy Bears coat. I sat down in the seat next to him, but he didn’t move. I wanted to look nonchalant when he finally woke up, so I pulled out a book and crossed my legs.

I kept peeking over at him, but he was out cold. The train went two more stops before another person got on the car. A larger crowd boarded on the following stop, and even more at the one after that.

When he finally woke up, the train car was so full that it looked like I had just grabbed an open seat. A few stops later he had to get off, and I was left alone.

Is it still considered breaking a social norm if it lacks the ‘social’ aspect?

 

P.S. – Thanks to everyone for the awesome article ideas. I am already looking into them and digging up sources!

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