When this assignment was assigned, I was dreading it. I am typically shy by nature, but I have already had to do this once before in a previous sociology class. We had to violate five social norms of eating in the cougar eat. The experience was not as bad as I expected, and the people that were around me were actually very nice. One experience in particular blew me away. I went up to a perfect stranger and asked him if he would mind me having a bite of everything on his plate. I expected him to look at me like I was crazy, but he kindly smiled at me and offered me his sandwhich. I was even more embarrased and quickly explained that I was doing this for a class and that I really didn’t want a bite of his sandwhich. In relaying that experience to some friends they said that he was probably an exception because he was a guy, I am at BYU, and that I probably asked too nicely. So, in order to see if I could have a different experience, I attempted this same act on a girl, in the food court of the mall, without smiling.
I went up to a girl sitting by herself at the food court at University Mall and very abruptly asked if I could have a bite of her pizza. The girl looked like she was in her late teen years. She gave me the strangest look, and before I could say anything else she grabbed her food and quickly walked away, looking back over her shoulder to make sure that I wasn’t following her!
This experience was much different than my first attempt. It was so embarrassing for me to violate this norm. I felt so uncomfortable and left the mall immediately after. The girl probably thought I was not all mentally there. It is amazing the power of norms, and how these norms really do dictate our decisions and actions. This is not a norm that I wish to violate again.