A discussion regarding norms is almost unavoidable when it comes to sociology. The possibilities of the discussion seem to be endless in regards to what topic brought it up. Someone could have been speaking of a co-worker who walks around the office barefoot or maybe they saw a tourist acting in a way that seemed so odd and out of place. In class we had discussed the unfortunate example of when the plane crashed in the mountains and the passengers had to resort to cannibalism to survive. I believe this is a perfect example of norms and how they can change in the blink of an eye to fit a specific situation.
This idea became abundantly clear to me this afternoon while in the nail salon. For those of you who have never had a manicure before, it is an extremely relaxing and enjoyable experience but at the same time it can be a very personal one as well. Basically you sit at a table across from a person whom you have never met and they cut, clean, file, and paint your nails; all the while they are holding your hands. I wondered in how many situations this would be acceptable. If this random person came up to me in the street and did the exact same thing would I be ok with it? Probably not, in fact I would think they were nuts. This realization became even more apparent when, at the end of the manicure you sit and wait for your freshly painted nails to dry, the same person who has been holding your hands for the past half hour begins to give you a back massage. One is rarely ever asked or even warned about the massage. Most of the time they have begun before you even know it is happening. That being said however, I can honestly say that I have never once heard someone turn down the massage.
Why is it ok for a perfect stranger to hold your hands and give you a massage in a nail salon, but completely inappropriate in just about every other situation? The only thing I can think of is the fact that from situation to situation norms change. They can change with time, place, person, and culture. What is normal in one instance might not be so in another.
This is an awareness that I hope to keep with me in the future. I believe it will help me to take the time to understand why people act the way they do in certain situations and hopefully because of this, I will not jump to conclusions because something does not seem “normal” to me.