Norms are the foundation of morality in society. According to Business dictionary, norms are informal guideline about what is considered normal (what is correct or incorrect) social behavior in a particular group or social unit.
Norms form the basis of collective expectations that members of a community have from each other, and play a key part in social control and social order by exerting a pressure on the individual to conform. In short, “The way we do things around here.” Norms reflect a consensus and a common value developed through socialization. . Norms contribute to the functioning of the social system and develop to meet certain assumed “needs” of the system.
I conducted an experiment of breaking social norms for 2 days. I choose to break the norm by using text messages where I could communicate with individuals about the current activities that I would be doing throughout the day. I had to step out of my comfort zone in order to get this experiment done because I know the impact it would had on myself. I contacted a friend earlier in the day first by sending a “hello” I thought she would have reply but she did not.
On the second day I started to bombard her phone with tons of messages stating what I was doing such as “I am going to eat my dinner,” “I am going to shower” sending her random pictures of quotes and so on. She was annoyed, irritated and disgruntle to the point where she break her silence and replied that she was going to block me. However, I continue to bombard her with more messages after I got that reply. It lead to a point where she called my mother complaining and asking her what happened to my phone, if it was stolen, or if something was wrong with me. However, I told my mother to play along because I was just doing an experiment. I enjoyed doing this norm breaking experiment and I was satisfied with my results.
I have learnt how important social norms are to the way our society function. When social norms are broken, the responses that I received range from silence to absolute anger and disapproval and my friend thought something was definitely wrong. The results that my experiment received truly exemplified why texting an individual constantly throughout the day about your everyday action is not the normal way in which individuals in society communicate. I also realized that even if communicating with another person face-face we should not voice our actions every time we did something. For example, if I am home and in the presence of my family members I would not say out everything loud like ” I am going down stairs, ” I am opening the fridge”, ” I am turning on the television” or even ” I am walking”. Giving people play-by-play action of what you are doing can cause them to feel annoyed, confused, concern or angry.
Hence, this is why it is socially not normal to over share yourself through communication. As a functionalist, Émile Durkheim’s perspective on society, he discern the necessary of interconnectivities of all of its members and elements. According to Durkheim, society is greater than the sum of its parts.
He asserted that individual behavior was not the same as collective behavior, and that studying collective behavior was quite different from studying an individual’s actions. Durkheim called the communal beliefs, morals, norms and attitudes of a society the collective conscience. He realized that understanding what causes individuals to act in similar and predictable ways. He stated that, “If I do not commit to the society, if in your conduct of dressing I do not conform to the customs observed in my country and in my class, the ridicule I provoke, the social isolation in which I am kept, produce, in an attenuated form, the same effects as punishment”.