My Experiment

October 26, 2011
Custom User Avatar
More by this author
Because folkways are typically expected behavior, society seems to be extremely surprised when these social conventions are broken. In my experiment, I broke the social norm of sleeping at home. I went to the Town Center mall, dressed in pajamas and slippers, holding a Pillow Pet, and slept in the beds throughout the mall. I had my boyfriend take notes of peoples’ reactions as I napped. I mapped out a route before hand. First, I went to Brookstone. Then after I was escorted out, I proceeded to nap in many beds in various department stores, like Sears and Nordstrom. I had certainly anticipated some extreme reactions. I expected customers of the stores to give my boyfriend and I strange looks or even question my activity. I knew employees of the stores would attempt to wake me up (despite my feigned deep sleep) and maybe even call security. Going into it, I felt excited. I am not a particularly shy person, and I tend to break social norms on a regular basis because I think it is funny. However, I was a little nervous. I was mainly worried that I could get in trouble with the mall security.

I went to the mall for approximately two hours. In that time, I slept in three beds in three different stores. I went into Brookstone and lied on the Tempur-Pedic bed at the back of the store. Though it was difficult to actually fall asleep due to the noise, I beguiled people in the store into believing I was really sleeping. Some people simply ignored me. However, there were a select few who made comments. One woman stared at me for a few minutes. Then, she asked my boyfriend if I was “okay”. He reassured her, but she still seemed very puzzled. A young boy walked up to me, poked me in the face a few times, and screamed, “Are you dead?” It was extremely difficult not to break out laughing, but I kept my cool. After about twenty minutes of feigned sleep, an employee yelled at me to leave. I continued to “sleep” until he threatened to call security. Then, I went to Sears and proceeded to “sleep” in one of the beds upstairs. A gaggle of teenage girls walked by, gave me weird looks, and giggled to themselves. A middle-aged woman exclaimed loudly to her husband, “Oh my god! Is that a homeless person?” Several other people walked by laughing, pointing, and making rude comments. Soon, an employee woke me up and told me I must leave the store immediately. They told me not to come back. This did not deter me, however. I continued my experiment at a new store, Nordstrom. Once again, I went to the level with the beds and set up camp in a particularly humongous bed. I received very similar reactions to the previous two stores. Some walked by without so much as a glance, but most gave me strange looks. One teenager asked my boyfriend what we were doing, which is understandable, as it must have looked odd. He simply responded, “She is taking a nap.” Soon enough, an employee screamed at me and escorted me out of the store.

Overall, I believe this was a successful experiment. Though the majority of the reactions were expected, I was surprised by the number of people that simply ignored my presence. Perhaps society has become too individualistic; those people were too consumed by their own lives to notice the strange situations going on around them. Through this assignment, I was able to understand the feeling of being ostracized from society. I strayed from the norm of society and felt a sense of deviance that I would not understand had I not broken a folkway.

Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

Site Feedback