broke the tacit rule of standing the opposite way in an elevator, facing the
crowd of people. When people get into an elevator, the normal way to stand
would be facing the doors. That’s just the norm. Or if your standing with your
friends or family maybe you’ll face them if you want to talk to them, but the
social norm is to face the front of the elevator.
When I was thinking of doing this, I imagined it being very
uncomfortable and awkward. People would probably avoid eye contact with me, and
I would them, or some might give me a weird look. Maybe someone would even say
something to me. I can imagine someone asking me why I was standing toward
them, or why I was looking at them. Thankfully, I had a better reaction than
I was with my friend Savannah and I
told her what I was planning on doing prior to entering the elevator. When I
got on the elevator, I stood in front of the buttons facing the five others
that got on the elevator with me and my friend. I giggled uncomfortably while
looking at the other people that occupied the elevator. Nobody made eye contact
with me, which is what I thought would happen. Two people got off the elevator
so I took that opportunity to move and stand in front of the elevator doors
facing the people. This would be more noticeably different. My friend stood in
the corner laughing to herself while I tried to stay composed. One man looked
at his shoes, another man watched the numbers rise as we went up the floors,
and the woman standing directly in front of me smiled then looked at my friend.
Nobody seemed uncomfortable and weirded out by the fact that I was facing them.
I began to feel a little uncomfortable so I started laughing (because that’s
how I cope with feelings of embarrassment). The woman standing in front of me
asked me what I was laughing at because she wanted to laugh too. I just replied
with, oh nothing. The doors opened and I moved aside to let everyone off the
elevator. The woman told me to have a good day and I said you too.
What I thought would be a very
uncomfortable situation was not as bad as I imagined. Maybe things would be
different if I were in an office building elevator that had more people in it,
but I was in an apartment building elevator and it just seemed casual. Also, if
I were by myself maybe it would have been different. I want to do it again just
out of sheer curiosity of how people would react.
It’s a known social norm to stand
facing the front of the elevator, not to the passengers, as it’s known not to
push all the buttons or act obnoxious or stand too close to someone if there’s
space. We as people generally like to fit in, to blend into the crowd. We also
don’t like to make others or ourselves uncomfortable, that’s why we follow this
unspoken list of rules of how to behave. Cultural/social norms make life easier
and more comfortable. Of course, there are people who don’t follow a lot of
social norms, like artists. I think they benefit from being rule breakers and
doing things that are considered “abnormal.” Of course, there could be repercussions
to breaking social norms, so if you do so, you must be prepared to deal with
the possible negative reactions. So, we will continue to follow these rules if
we want to be considered “normal” and stay comfortable.