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Why Some Folkways Should be Broken

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Culture, norms, mores, and folkways all tie in together. Culture entails a lot. “Culture is the language, beliefs, values, norms, behaviors, and even material objects that characterize a group and are passed from one generation to the next” (Henslin 2017). Cultures can be completely different from others and can have a very strong difference in beliefs, values, and norms. What someone does in one country can be very frowned upon in another country. Norms are what’s looked at as the right thing to do or the right way to act. Norms tie into culture because it all depends on what someone’s culture is to determine what the norm is. Mores are just like norms, except they’re the norms that are strictly enforced because they are thought essential to core values (Henslin 2017). Folkways are a lot less serious and are said to be norms that are not strictly enforced (Henslin 2017). I’m going to break three different folkways and those folkways are chewing gum obnoxiously, not holding the door open for someone who’s right behind me, and drinking out of the milk carton. Typically when you don’t do the common thing to do, people will get annoyed and sometimes give dirty looks or make sly comments. Basically people will try to let you know that you should have done something else like hold the door open or said thank you after they did something for you.

The first folkway that I broke was chewing gum obnoxiously. I specifically chose this folkway to break because it’s one of my biggest pet peeves. Chewing gum is similar to chewing food, you typically try to chew quietly and with your mouth closed because that’s the table manners you learned as a kid. The first person I decided to test this on was a Caucasian male who is of similar age. I chewed my gum obnoxiously for a while until he finally said “can you not”. He was more out spoken than the next two people I tested this on. For my second person I tested it on someone who I know is shyer than other people. When I started chewing the gum loudly she looked at me and raised her eyebrows and then laughed it off. She took an approach that wasn’t as harsh as the male. The third person I tested this on was an elderly woman who was maybe in her sixties. I chose to test it on someone older because I tend to think that older people stick to norms more so than younger people. When I was chomping my gum around her all she did was stare me down. It was a mean dirty look type stare, but she didn’t say anything to me.

The next folkway that I broke was not holding a door open for someone. Again I chose this folkway because I typically always hold the door open for people and I get irritated when others don’t do it for me. Holding the door open for someone is such a common norm that I feel like people should follow, but that doesn’t always happen. The first person I tested this on was a teenage girl. To open the door that this was tested on, you need a finger print that’s entered into the system to get inside. I entered mine and then let the door close behind me even though someone else was going to be coming in. The person knew that I saw then so when she opened the door she said “thanks” sarcastically and then laughed about it. The second person I tested this on was someone at a food place. He looked like he was maybe in his thirties and didn’t seem to mind when I didn’t hold the door open. I didn’t notice any stares, comments, or sighs under his breath. The last person I tested this on was an older man at a different restaurant. He actually seemed surprised when I didn’t keep the door held open, because he said “kids” to the person he was with. I think it’s a respect thing to hold the door open for elderly people.

The last folkway that I decided to break was drinking milk out of the gallon. The reason I chose to break this folkway is because it’s always been a respect aspect to not drink out of the gallon. I decided to do this, but I bought my own gallon of milk because I find it gross and disrespectful. I live with forty other girls so this was pretty easy to do. The first person that I did this in front of was a girl in her twenties and she had been staring at me until I made eye contact with her. Then she told me how that’s disgusting and disrespectful because other people have to drink from that. She wasn’t wrong, it is gross for someone to drink out of a gallon that other people drink from, but it was my own milk. I of course told her that it had been milk that I purchased myself, but that was her reaction at first. The next person who walked in when I was drinking the milk out of the gallon was another teenage girl and when she saw me she said “dude are you serious”. Again the response I got indicated that the person was grossed out by what I was doing and thought it was disrespectful. The last person that saw me doing this was a person who cooks in our kitchen. She’s in charge of our food and food supplies so when she saw me drinking the milk out of the gallon she got pretty mad. She started yelling and said that I had to go buy another gallon and to never do that again.

When I broke my folkways I expected a lot of what happened. It’s because I know when things are annoying or disrespectful to do because I was raised to be polite and respectful. By doing these mini social experiments, I learned what it means to have something be a folkway. I also learned overall what norms and mores are. I always knew that certain examples fell under different categories, but I didn’t know what they were called. I wasn’t surprised by what I found. Like I said these things were expected, because that’s what I would have done if someone had broken those folkways to me. As humans, we conform because it’s what’s expected of us. We don’t want to not fit in or be considered incompliant with what’s expected of us.

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