Thursday, July 07, 2011

Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium: Unwritten Laws

There are many unwritten laws in our society today. How do I know there are laws if they aren't written? I have lived them! Most of these have to do with social etiquette, or personal boundaries. Because they aren't written, we learn them from social situations.

Let me give you an example. A younger distant family member of ours one time went to a church dance. At the dance they had a refreshment table that had plates of cookies, and plates with vegetables and dip. Our family member decided that he enjoyed the vegetable platter so much, that he would pull a chair up to the table so that he could just sit down and eat. When he told me about this, I asked him if other people were eating the vegetables too. I could only imagine him sitting there hovered over the vegetable plate eating away, while people stood around in shock. He said, "Oh, they didn't seem to want any." I think that if I had been there, and seen him eating away, I probably wouldn't have wanted any either. Did anyone ever tell you that you couldn't sit up to the refreshment table? No one ever told me either, and of course it is obvious no one ever told him too. This kind of law, or rule, is something we just instinctively know.

I've written about this before, but another example of unwritten law has to do with our personal space. No one taught me when I was growing up, that I shouldn't stand too close to people when I talked to them. It's just one of the social cues that I picked up on. It's not like you will go to jail if you do it, but it sure can make someone feel uncomfortable if you invade their personal space.

The problem is that because some laws are unwritten, some people don't pick up on the cues, and don't follow them. While it might be totally appalling to you if someone came in to your home and disciplined your kids, to your in-laws it might seem perfectly normal. Unwritten laws are subjective, and sometimes bend to our personal circumstances. Your in-laws, for example, might feel totally justified, as the people that raised your spouse, in disciplining your children. Their unwritten laws are formed from their own paradigm.

And so we have the responsibility to inform people if they have crossed the line of one of our unwritten laws. If someone invades our personal space, or intrudes on our privacy, the only way they will know is if we tell them. I kind of like the response that my brother taught me; "Dude, back out of my bubble." Even though some laws are unwritten, it doesn't mean they have to be unspoken!

Now go check out what the other consortium members have to say about this issue!

Rummuser, Anu, Ashkok, Gaelikka, Grannymar, Conrad, Padmum, Magpie11, and Akanksha, and Martha the Silver Fox


Grannymar said...

"Dude, back out of my bubble." I love it! I might adopt it for the odd occasion when I feel uncomfortable with someone getting too close.

Nene said...

Interesting post. I especially liked your comment, "And so we have the responsibility to inform people if they have crossed the line of one of our unwritten laws." I may have to use this advice this weekend. If I do, I'll post about it. Thanks for your advice.

Rummuser said...

All communities and the larger societies seem to be guided by such unwritten laws to make inter personal relationships and proper behaviour to be at acceptable levels. Some do serve positive purposes, but quite some serve none or only seem to result in negativity.

Maria said...

I am often afraid of hurting someone's feelings, so probably would simply back away a step if I thought someone was in my personal space.

I think I have pretty much a "live and let live" approach to unwritten laws unless they endanger me or my family in some way.