Norms are the foundation of morality in our 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 an integral aspect 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 assumed “needs” of society.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 reflect 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 if I do not stop texting her. 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.
This experiment gave me an insight of the importance of social norms and the way our society function. When I broke the norm, the responses that I received range from silence to absolute anger and disorientated and my friend thought something was definitely wrong. The results that my experiment received truly demonstrate why texting an individual constantly throughout the day about your daily actions are not the normal way in which individuals in society communicate.
I also realized that even if communicating with another person during face-face conversation 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 or even friends I would not say out everything loud like ” I am use my computer, ” I am opening the fridge”, ” I am turning on the television” or even ” I am walking to the bedroom”. Giving people a play-by-play details and action that consist of our daily activities forces them to feel uncomfortable, aggravated, irritated, concern or indignat. 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”.