Tailgating (Deviant Assignment)

As human beings and people of this Earth, we encounter social events or activities each and everyday. Unless you live underneath a rock, it is virtually impossible to avoid at least having one social encounter in one day. As soon as someone walks outside their house they are now considered to be in a social environment in which they interact with other people. The reason why we as humans don’t really tend to realize that we do have “social lives” (even though some people believe its just determined on how many times they go out in a week) is because we are just so used to it by now, that it doesn’t even cross our minds anymore that we are interacting with people each and everyday whether we like it or not. The reason for this is because of social norms, or rules that are developed for appropriate behavior based on specific values. These norms have somewhat brainwashed people and if somebody were to act out of these norms people start to feel uncomfortable or even angry with the person doing the deviant act.

My deviant act was associated with the social act of driving. Driving a vehicle requires a person to be skilled with a motor vehicle, to know the rules of the road and also to be able to communicate with others. With driving come many different stereotypes that can be associated with multiple different races just like the majority of other activities. A stereotype is a simplified perception people have of an entire category of people. Another unfortunate thing about driving is that prejudices and discrimination occurs on many different occasions. Examples: A white middle aged woman is driving and is caught at a stop light when an African-American man just walks by on the cross-walk. The woman looks at the man and immediately rolls up her windows and locks the door. This is an example of a prejudice or negative attitude toward an entire group of people. Now, that same African-American man is now driving down the street later in the day and a cop pulls him over. The black man wasn’t speeding or anything but the cop pulled him over just because the man was black in a majority white neighborhood. This is an example of discrimination, the unfair treatment of people based on prejudice. But my deviant act doesn’t consist of anything to do with race (the division of peole based on physical characteristics) or ethnicity (the classification of people who share a common cultural, linguistic or ancestral heritage), what I did was simply the act of “tailgating” a persons car.

“Tailgating” is when you drive very close to the person in front of you almost bumper to bumper. It is not illegal but by the way some people reacted it was as if I had committed a crime just by the way they looked at me. I committed this deviant act on Thursday July, 21 2011 at approximately 2 in the afternoon. I took into account that if I were to do this act at either 8 in the morning or 5 in the afternoon there would be more tailgaters because people would either be in a hurry to get to work or to get home from work. I drove around for about 45 min all in the area of 143rd street and LaGrange avenue in Orland Park. I drove mostly down side streets because it is more unlikely for a person to tailgate in a neighborhood than on a busy street. I followed 3 different cars on separate occasions all the way until they reached their houses in the neighborhood. All 3 of them gave me dirty looks and kept constantly looking in their rearview mirror. 2 of the 3 stuck their hands out the window and flicked me an inappropriate gesture (symbols we make using our bodies) with their hand. On another separate occasion one man kept breaking to try and get me to either back off of him or to hit him. Ultimately, I followed 7 different people and every single one of them had the same type of reaction. They were either really angry with the fact that I was driving so close to them or they were really worried that I was going to hit them.

One of the reasons why I did this deviant act was because I always hated it when someone tailgated me when I was driving. There is something about it that just makes a person feel uncomfortable because it is out of the norm for someone to be driving like that. I feel like people think it’s a violation to be driving like that and personally I don’t recommend tailgating either because there are people that aren’t afraid to put on the breaks like one of the guys that I encountered and you could end up hitting them and seriously injuring either yourself or others. All in all, I learned that when you break a social norm, like tailgating for example, people start to feel uncomfortable and start to look at you differently and start acting out of their character.