The socio-cultural norms define how we need to behave in various social settings. We learn most of these tacit rules while growing up. The cultural values, religious expectations, and social practices define our etiquette, especially in social gatherings. Some of these norms are so entrenched that when one fails to observe them, he or she may be considered mentally abnormal. I had an experience in the elevator that made me learn a lot about the consequences of breaking some of these tacit rules. It happened when I visited a local restaurant and had to use an elevator.
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The Expected Behavior
When in an elevator, one is expected to be calm. When one is in the midst of strangers, it is normal to say hi and ask for assistance when it is needed. One should avoid being pushy in the elevator and any erratic behavior that may agitate others within the elevator should be avoided as much as possible. When getting out of the elevator, one should allow those who are nearest to the door to leave first.
What I Did that Did Not Conform To Expected Behavior?
On this day, I got into the elevator and started singing and dancing. I found three ladies and a gentleman in the elevator. I did not utter a single word to any of them, but kept singing, dancing, and smiling at them. Just before leaving, I shook hands with all of them and rushed out.
How People around Me Reacted?
The people around me were visibly shocked and amused by my actions. They looked at me inquisitively and made deliberate efforts to avoid being close to me. It was evident that they were not certain about my state of mind. One specific girl went as far as hiding behind the gentleman, only stealing glimpses at me and smiling when she was sure I was looking the other way. I noticed that they were in relief when I finally left. While in the restaurant, I noticed that two ladies who were with me in the elevator deliberately avoided sitting anywhere near me. The avoided making eye contact with me but they ensured that they monitored my movements.
My Own Reaction
I knew I was acting in an abnormal way, and I personally felt amused. I smiled as a read fear in the eyes of some of the people who were with me in the elevator. I felt sorry for the young woman who felt threatened but at the time amused by my acts. I tried to remain calm during the entire time.
What I Have Learned?
The incident in the elevator made me learn a lot about how cultural rules work and why we should follow them. In most of the cases, these rules are not made in writing. They are expected to be part of us based on our upbringing and the social environment in which we live. These rules are meant to ensure that there is order in the society. They define our etiquette, especially how we need to relate with others. When one fails to follow these basic rules, people tend to develop a feeling that he or she is mentally abnormal. In many cases, people may not stop one from breaking these simple tacit rules, especially if they do not feel their social sphere is threatened. However, they take note of such behavior and tend to avoid such people as much as possible. Normal behavior earns people respect, but that cannot be the case if one drifts away from the socio-cultural expectations. The decision of the two ladies to avoid me indicates that they were convinced I was mentally retarded. Although I behaved in a normal way once I entered the restaurant, the memory of my actions in the elevator made them develop a negative perception towards me. While others who had not seen me in the elevator appeared comfortable sitting near me, the two were worried about my presence. I realized that the first impression that one creates may lasts.