Social Norms

Kathy Jackson writes a piece that I think is one of the most overlooked(and very important)aspects of self defense.

It is crucially important that each of us think about “The Rules” of society and actively think about breaking them. I don’t mean in an act of rebellion,(although that might be OK too) but a part of our mental training to deal with potential and or imminent. danger..

I am positive most people think that they will become the mama bear or the great protector and will do whatever it takes when the wolf comes knocking and surly no social norm will stop them, but the evidence does not bare that out.

Usually, in high stress situations we revert back to what we know. Often not being able to think at all. We have to actually think about and do(either by the act or visualizing) that which we hope to do in an emergency.

One day while walking in the mall with my 14 year old, one of the guys at a kiosk asked me if I would like a sample of something. I looked him in the eyes, smiled sightly, said no thank you and kept walking. I never paused or stopped for one second. My daughter thought I was being rude. When I questioned her about what exactly did I do that was rude, her answer was, “Well, it wasn’t that you did anything rude, but you probably hurt his feeling.”

Now, he was not a bad guy and had I chose to stop and chat no one was in danger, but the point is my daughter was so concerned and embarrassed that I didn’t stop. Not because I was actually rude, but because the perception she had in her head(likely one I put in there years ago) about not stopping and talking to someone, even someone you don’t want to talk to.

That is the exact behavior that could get you in trouble if you are, say in a parking lot and someone you don’t want to talk to approaches you and you stay at talk.

Please take the time to read her entire article and take the time to see where your own adherence to social rules might need to be evaluated and possibly reprogrammed.

As a side note, Kathy brings up Caleb Giddings who has an article up on his site about the colors of awareness or alertness. I have spoke to Kathy about this many times. I have not only stated that I do not live in yellow all the time, but that it isn’t even a goal of mine. Caleb brings up some good points that I think tie in well with Kathy’s article.

17 thoughts on “Social Norms

  1. “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker touches on this quite a bit – about how we often endanger ourselves by not wanting to “offend” someone. It also goes into all the ways that criminals try to make us feel obligated to talk to them, etc. Very interesting stuff that definitely changed my outlook.

  2. Shopping at any of the big box stores that give out free food samples is a good way to practice ignoring people who talk at you to get your attention. Notice I said AT, not TO.

    Just like with a criminal asking a question in a parking lot, don’t respond to them. You can let him know you heard him, but by not responding you are sending a signal that you are NOT going to interact with him. If he continues advancing, break a few more societal rules like “no yelling” by asking him, loudly, “WHAT DO YOU WANT! I DON’T KNOW YOU! ARE YOU TRYING TO MUG ME! SOMEBODY CALL THE POLICE! NOW!!!” . If he keeps coming after that, you know what his intent is.

    Good articles, both of them. I remember when that attempted mugging Kathy talked about happened. He was quick thinking in throwing the coffee, and it gave him enough time that when the perp ducked to avoid the coffee, Caleb was able to have the gun out when the perp faced forward again. Just before he did an immediate 180 and split. No shots fired.

  3. Great post! I just wish people would be aware of their surroundings and reprogram themselves to realize the social norm is no longer the norm.

  4. Good points, and since I’m a grouchy old man, most of them don’t even try! 🙂 But you ARE correct… Hind brain and rote muscle memory are what we revert to in crisis mode.

  5. Seems to me, with the condition the country is in today,we had all be in condition yellow. It used to be if you lived in a nice neighborhood you could feel “safe”. Not any longer. I live in a small town…about 3000 people. The nearest large town is over 130 miles away. Yet, we have been experiencing many breakins…business as well as residential. What makes that even more odd, aside from the fact we never had that problem before is the fact that those doing the breakins are from out of state! Regarding this “rule” thing…I don’t know about the rest of you but while I am not on a true condition yellow all the time I am aware of what is going on around me. One reason is I am one of those that are eternally inquisitive. I believe a large part of this not wanting to break the rules thing is how we were trained or taught from little on. Today in schools kids are what I would consider being brainwashed as far as being aware and even more important is this idiotic thing of not offending anyone. Much less fighting back on a bully. There was a time when folks had to be provide their own defense and many of those times if not all required lethal force. Yet, back then people were polite to thier neighbors. All one has to do is look at the mob scenes on black friday at wal-mart….so much for being polite…. I dunno…..maybe I’m just odd…..but if I go into a restaurant I will not sit with my back to a door. If I have left my vehicle parked in a shopping mall…or even on a street I take a quick glance at the back seat before getting in. No…I do not lock my vehicle most of the time. If I do have to get into it in a hurry I don’t want to mess around with unlocking it. Nothing in it for anyone to take anyways. Leastways nothing of much value. Along with that, I try to park in a way that all I have to do is pull away….no backing up or chances of being parked in. And….I listen….I want to pick up on any noise that is not normal to the environment I am in. Especially in back of me. It’s my feeling once one gets used to doing these things they become automatic.

  6. When I used to work in clubs while between real jobs, I often noticed that women would smile at guys that actually frightened them, leading the guys to think they were interested, instead of intimidated. I have been told it was a reflexive action that women do. I always thought learning to maintain a “Poker Face” in public would be a good idea to avoid encouraging encounters you aren’t interested in, and not answering when approached should send a clear signal that you aren’t interested or willing to be drawn in.

    • I don’t know about a smile verses a poker face. For me it is more about a mindset. A determination not to allow yourself to be violated.

  7. Pingback: Alertness tips | Cornered Cat

  8. Thanks for that link to Kathy’s article. I found it very useful, particularly the business about:

    This reminds me of something that happened to me once. I was just leaving a large bookstore downtown and not paying much attention to people. Just as I passed a taller man he said, “Can you give me some change?” or something to that effect (“positioning”?). I said, “No,” and continued on. Then he shouted at me, “Hey, goddamn it I am talking to you!” That I suspect was the “interview”. The funny thing though, was that instead of the intended effect, what I actually did was an instant 180 degree turn and started walking toward him with an angry look on my face. I was amused at how fast he got out of there.

    I’m not a kung fu master or anything, And he probably outweighed me by 30 lbs. I’m just not inclined to put up with crap. I think I’m not too trained in social norms either, not enough to avoid thinking about them anyway.

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