Someone recently asked an online community, “What social norms are pretty weird if you think about it?” I hadn’t really pondered it before, but there are quite a few. Here is what the forum members put on their list.
1. Drinking Milk
There are a couple of concerns brought up about milk. First, consuming milk from other animals is accepted as entirely normal, but mention drinking human milk by a non-infant, and you are crazy.
Second, We are the only mammals to drink another mammal’s milk and to continue doing so after weaning. Someone states, “If it was normal, then most of the world wouldn’t be lactose intolerant adults like all other mammals are.”
2. Asking When You Don’t Care
What is up with the societal norm of asking people how they are doing when we have no genuine desire to entertain what they’re confessing? —At the same time, replying to the question that we are fine when we are not.
3. Encouraging Alcohol Use
Alcohol is a poison with no positive benefits or outcomes, yet society has an entire culture revolving around it being “Social.” A user confesses to being the guy encouraging it, “Go on, just one more!’ Or I’ve bought shots for people who have said no, which then pressures them to drink it.” Misery loves company.
4. Forcing Hugs
Numerous parents agree that forcing their children to hug relatives or friends is not a social norm they conform to. Despite when grandma insists on kisses on the cheek. These parents are teaching consent and allowing their children to decide.
Considering that most cases of childhood sexual abuse involve a family member or close family friend, you would think more people would agree to let this practice go.
5. Blood Is Thicker Than Water
The idea that we need to maintain relationships with toxic people just because their family is a societal norm people find extremely weird. Someone sarcastically quotes, “You’ll regret it when they are gone,” before adding, “NO.” Family is who you make it.
6. Working to 65 to Live For 10 Years
I can’t help but think of my father with this reality. He worked so hard, saving and preparing for retirement. Less than a couple of years into retirement, he was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and went downhill quickly. He could never enjoy the fruits of his labor, and it’s a sad thought how many others suffer this fate.
7. Women’s Shoes
Countless forum members agree that high heels and other women’s shoes are absurd, uncomfortable, and bad for their feet and backs. So why do we continue to encourage them as necessary? The pointy ones are the worst. I will never understand how women walk in them.
8. Asking About Baby Making
Asking family and friends if they are trying for a baby is a strange social norm. While some people believe it is natural to inquire about it, others feel it is insensitive and personal. “I wasn’t getting pregnant for the longest time in my marriage, but I wanted to,” admits one. “That question would make me wanna go hide and cry.”
9. Saying the Pledge of Allegiance in School
Patriotism or love for your country is one thing, but requiring kids to recite the Pledge of Allegiance brainwashes all our children. Forcing them to “pledge allegiance” to a flag every day is weird when you stop and critically think about it.
10. Expensive Education
Several people believe that education should be entirely free across the board. “It makes zero sense that a country would impoverish its people rather than invest in a strong, educated, healthy population.
The ONLY reason that university costs money is to perpetuate social stratification.”
“Governments don’t want a population capable of critical thinking; they want obedient workers, people just smart enough to run the machines and just dumb enough to passively accept their situation.” — George Carlin.
This one made me laugh out loud, “Balloons. Here’s a plastic sack of my breath. Happy birthday.” Someone points out they are made from latex or rubber, but the gist is the same.
12. Fairy Tale Weddings
Big, extravagant, fairy-tale weddings are a massive waste of time, money, and emotional stress. Some suggest it’s ok if you have all the money world, but the reality is that many couples start their lives together by accruing debt for their “Big day.”
13. The Garter Toss
The tradition of tossing the garter at weddings is something many believe to be weird. Do you? A woman admits, “We did not do this at my wedding. Really creepy custom. I don’t need to see my coworkers and husband’s friends clamoring for something that’s just been around my thigh.”
14. Birthday Cake Shenanigans
There are a couple of social norms surrounding birthday cakes that this forum questions. After COVID, many are left wondering why we ever accepted blowing out birthday candles before—also, the tradition of unexpectedly shoving people’s faces into cakes.
While Americans acknowledge this seems to be a newer trend with kids’ birthdays for internet clout, one says, “It’s extremely common in the Mexican culture. Take it from me, an expert in having my face smashed onto a cake as a kid.”
About 1/3 of the world’s male population is circumcised — meaning that most countries do not employ this practice that one calls “Forced genital mutilation, and people act like it’s normal.”
Religious reasons are the driving factor behind the procedure, and some cite hygiene. But the latter is unnecessary, according to one who states, “The hygiene part of it isn’t a logical argument either. Women naturally have folds, too.” Many believe men should be given a choice.
16. Tipping Culture
Americans are one of the only cultures that don’t pay their servers a living wage and instead rely on the public to tip for services rendered. The expectation of tipping as a substitute for paying employees a higher wage is a terrible societal norm.
17. Wearing a Tie
“I can’t think of a single reason for ties being the standard for business attire other than it’s a reminder to everyone in the room that you could be easily strangled at any time,” shares one who “Was once pulled over a desk by my tie.” others agree and note that cops only where clip-on ties for this matter.
The speakerphone is meant for you to use in the privacy of your own home or office, not walking around in public or on public transportation. As a server, I remember not being tipped because I had to ask patrons to get off their speakerphones. Somehow, I was the one in the wrong. People playing their music without headphones is another thing society is embracing as “the norm,” and it sucks!
19. Singing Happy Birthday
I’m having flashbacks of working at Olive Garden with this one, and it is so true: “Everybody hates being sung happy birthday, and everybody hates singing happy birthday, so what are we doing here?” The number of times people would cower in their booth and cover their faces while I sang on a busy Friday night because their family insisted on it is too many to count.
20. Greeting and Holiday Cards
YES! I am not the only one who finds it ridiculous to buy a six-to-ten dollar card that someone will open with the hopes of money, read over, and likely never look at again. Go to the Dollar Store for them.
A cynic suggests, “Hallmark cards are an all-too-common phenomenon of capitalism replacing a genuinely heartfelt gesture with a store-bought, mass-produced one — and in so doing, removing its meaning altogether.”
21. Having Listening Devices in Homes
For all of the concerns about microchips and Big Brother, it’s a strange phenomenon that society has accepted putting listening devices such as Alexa and Google Home in their houses. Someone adds, “And cameras! We’ve literally invited 1984 into our homes. It was not forced upon us by a government.”
22. Funeral Expense
The reality of people paying “Tens of thousands of dollars to bury corpses in the ground” is a societal norm that is weird when you think about it. A user points out that burying them in the ground would be a better resolution.
“We are paying to embalm corpses so they are preserved for a long time in wooden or metal boxes, using valuable space. Modern embalming techniques can preserve a corpse for a long time.” It would be better to bury them in the ground and let them decompose.
23. Open Casket Funerals
Open casket funerals are another societal norm many find uncomfortable and weird. “I know it helps some people with closure, but I’d rather not. Everyone was so scandalized when I refused to go up and view our dead aunt’s body. I’ll miss her, but I don’t want to look at a corpse.”
24. Pharmaceutical Commercials
Prescription drug commercials are ridiculous. It’s like, “Hey, do you have eczema? Itchy skin got you down? You don’t have to live with it because now we have a pill for that. Side effects may include everything far worse than itchy skin with a side of death.” It’s wrong. It’s so wrong.
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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and spirituality.