When we think of people drinking water, we regularly see them use a glass, water bottle, or mason jar. But what about from a mayonnaise container? While our culture likes to be environmentally friendly, I find that using any means necessary to do so would shock some people. So, I decided for my deviance from social norms I would drink water from a mayonnaise container instead of drinking water from a proper water bottle. My roommates and I were pretty much empty on our current mayonnaise container and then the idea came to me from thinking about how weird it would be using a mayonnaise container as a lunch box or as a food container for something like spaghetti and store it in the vet offices refrigerator on campus. After going over the idea for a couple of days I decided that using it as a water bottle would supply a nice mix of confusing reactions from others and casual execution on my part.
The setting that I decided to have everything take place was on an early morning rowing sports club practice. There is a nice mix of races and an average age ranging between 18 to 22. Many of the members are what I would consider friends with how close we get to know each other and some I just have not been introduced to yet. I got everything ready the night before, cleaned the mayonnaise container properly, of course, and just acted like it was any regular day. I kept my new water bottle in my drawstring bag and had it planned exactly when I was going to pull it out to drink from. Everyone that is on the rowing team meets up in the boathouse in Dover after a bit of a drive from campus. We all drop our things off inside and then get ready for our morning stretch and exercise before getting the boats down to the docks. This was my chance, enough people around to get views and yet could make a quick escape into practice outside if it got too hairy. As I was dropping my stuff off along with everyone else, I grabbed my water out of my bag and took a considerably long sip from it. The awkward top made for a nice pause for some to get a look, with the Hellman’s label out in front it was obvious that it was no ordinary water bottle. The first looks I got were of just confusion, smiles and some people that were not too distracted dropping their things off got a quick mumbling and snickering to their close friends. The first person to say anything was one of my close friends in the club that asked me if it was a mayonnaise container. I responded with a recycle and reuse comment to get back a “fair enough” from her. There was the look of cringe from the guys that were mumbling to each other after seeing it, making it obvious when one did a full 180 with his head and back to look at my new water bottle. The temptation to put the water bottle right away with some slight embarrassment after taking a sip was my first reaction but that little bit of extra views was what I felt enough to get a feel of how different people viewed the event.
The responses I received were what I would find to be normal, I would find myself not able to help but to give a good glance at the new water bottle and then think of how different yet environmentally friendly it was. I still see myself doing that when I see people bring mason jars to class with a metal straw attached. The responses I noticed were probably due to a fact that I was already new and pretty shy in the sports club and having me do anything that was an attention grabber was asking for some reaction out of the norm.
With deviance being a deviation or intentional action that is to what you know to be out of the cultural and social norm that can include something that is folkways to something more serious like mores or even codified law, I found myself having deviance feeling from the regular folkway social norm of fitting in that I was regularly accustomed to. The responses that people give to each other to either positive or negatively reinforce that behavior is an informal sanction. Sanctions are the way people enforce social norms and rules with rewards and punishments for everyone’s actions. There are positive sanctions that work as positively reinforcing behavior in someone and then negative sanctions that work as the opposite along with both having formal and informal means of execution to them. The mix of positive and negative informal sanctions that I noticed was everywhere. The positive being the smiles and a kind of appreciation people have towards others for being different and then the negative being the snickering and mumbling to each other in a kind of slight shunning behavior. This experiment to me has shed light on how easily and often people have their kinds of informal positive and negative sanctions that are used every day and throughout their lives while evolving to their experiences in life and changes in cultural and social norms.
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