Concept Application Paper Aside from food, water, oxygen and other practical needs, communication with the people around us has proven to be essential for our own well-being. The different types and styles of communication allow ourselves the opportunity to create and build relationships with the people around us. It is also the basis on how we define ourselves through self-image and self-esteem. Through social, inflated, and deflated comparison we shape ourselves into the image in which we feel would satisfy the people around us; how we think others want to see us.
In more cases it is a negative thing as the true soul inside a person is usually too ashamed or scared to reveal themselves to the public. We then force ourselves to shape into an image we feel will please the people around us. Evolved from our life experiences, we set an imaginary guideline in our mind for people to be considered ‘normal’ based on our perception of how society should behave. We automatically isolate anyone who deviates from these “guidelines”; they might include a person from a different culture or someone who simply wants to express themself.
It was our responsibility to investigate how society reacts to an adjustment in the social norm. In this experiment I wore a tank top, board-shorts, and flip-flops in which I enacted in unordinary verbal and non-verbal communication with the people around me. As a male in the American culture, I dress myself according to what I suppose is ‘trendy’ in my sub-culture. By observing a person’s patterns in the way they dress and how they act, it is possible to discover a person’s personality. An identity is created through our manners, appearance, and the environment we associate ourselves around.
We pick and choose how we want others to see us in different situations, so of course no one would ever think of dressing out of their usual pattern for no apparent reason. However, the purpose of the experiment is not to continue to carry on with daily procedures, but to deviate and record reactions and changes in behavior of bystanders. I devised a theory that I would be able to observe two sets of reactions, one from the people whom I share relationships with and random students whom I have never met before.
People who have knowledge about my existence would be able to detect a change in behavior while a stranger would just consider their encounter simply as something out of the ordinary. I chose to wear clothing not typically suited for the weather; Corvallis was reaching mid 40os and I had decided to be dressed in clothes one would wear to the beach. I felt this was an appropriate change in behavior because it would not be following the usual guidelines of the social norm. Everyone had one or two jackets and long pants, setting the basic social code to follow.
However, since I was not abiding to this ‘system’, I was considered an outcast or placed in an out-group of the current social culture. Even if I were not doing an experiment and intentionally dressing this specific way, I would be relaying non-verbal codes to whoever saw me which in their opinion would be interpreted much different than what I may have meant them to be. It would all be a matter of opinion or relational communication between me and the people in the environment. The channels of communication would be through non-verbal/ non-vocal communication.
Other channels would be invalid because I would not be communicating through other means including spoken or written words. However, fewer available channels did not result in any less interaction. In the experiment, it was interesting as the deviation from the social norm sparked two reactions in people whom either allowed this contact to prohibit them from verbally communicating with me or on the contrary, the change actually was a catalyst and started verbal communication as the main topic of discussion.
This occurred in both groups of people whom I was acquaintances with and people I did not know. A friend who had happened to see me first as I left my room was slightly shocked and warned me about the weather. Although their tone wasn’t hostile, more trying to help, the message that I interpreted was “If you’re not going to change clothes you’re going to look really weird wearing that type of clothing and secondly, you’ll be cold for the rest of the time until you decide to change your mind. My reaction to this conversation was close to emotionless because I would have reacted the same and produced similar responses because we interpret any change in behavior as ‘not normal’. Walking to a dining hall outside in public, my first observation was receiving numerous stares from the people passing me. Through my analysis this was a form of intrapersonal communication because I decoded their body language with a certain meaning and message.
By simple gestures of staring and changes in body language, it encoded a message of ‘out casting’ to the receiver solely based on the type of clothing I wore. I am thankful that I was not dramatically influenced by any of the responses and reactions I observed between my friends and the public. My analysis is these responses were forms of communication which easily could have been affected by culture and perception. People’s different interpretations would eventually lead to the shaping and defining of one’s identity through their behavior and appearance based on how they want others to see themselves.
Although it apparent that media has a large influence on choosing how we present our public self, it may seem that the people around us also have a large influence as well. They might include significant others or just ordinary people whom we compare ourselves to in social comparison. This experiment was a great understanding of how some people automatically separate someone just by expressing themselves. Society defines certain things such as fashion or behavior attached with the message, “follow the same guidelines or beware of being put in an out-group. Majority of people will be high-self monitors and follow the norm. Personally, I feel I am this way because of the need to feel belonging to a particular group or something. I learned that it is much harder to express one-self based on our own intuition of being ‘judged’ for what we do. By investigating how society reacted to an adjustment in the social norm, it was evident when I wore different clothing; the results when engaged were rather un-warming incidents of unordinary verbal and non-verbal communication.