So, we all know that sociology is the science of assigning fancy names to things that everyone has already noticed but thought unworthy of naming.
For example, take Post-Purchase Rationalization. This phenomenon is defined by Wikipedia as a “cognitive bias whereby someone who purchases an expensive product or service overlooks any faults or defects in order to justify their purchase.” Also known as Buyer’s Stockholm Syndrome (really?), this epidemic has apparently afflicted secretly remorseful shoppers everywhere.
I mean, duh. Anyone leaving Whole Foods with his or her reusable bag slightly heavier experiences some degree of Post-Purchase Rationalization. As in: I don’t feel guilty. I’m GLAD I spent $14.99 on raw sprouted macadamia nut butter. It is so natural, no animals came anywhere near it, and I am desperately lacking in omegas. I can’t wait to carve into it with the bejeweled knife I bought at Anthropologie and spread it on some gluten-free soy crisps. Also I’m saving the earth with this reusable bag.
But enough about PPR. I would like to turn the focus to a different sociological phenomenon, which is so eloquently dubbed Pluralistic Ignorance. It is best illustrated by an example:
At the end of class, a professor asks if anyone is confused about her dense, rambling and disorganized lecture on the irregular conjugations of ser in the past perfect subjunctive, and she gets crickets in response. Despite the silence, which seems to indicate collective and complete understanding, however, everyone is confused. But since everyone thinks everyone else is on top of their shit, no one speaks up.
Get it? It’s basically when everyone does something because everyone thinks everyone else wants to be doing it, but really no one wants to be doing it.
Keep this in mind while I start talking about something else now.
I couldn’t even begin to give you an accurate estimate of the number of times I have found myself on some dark, sweaty dance floor, lost in a sea of gyrating body parts.
Because everybody loves to grind.
Especially this guy Tim (false name, never know), a golfer from Yale, who began to grind with me one fateful night at Princeton. He was kinda cute and freckly, so when he pressed his front against my back and started to bend his knees and sway to the beat, I figured what the hell. So I got low… like in that rap song! Ya know??
Eighteen seconds later, my thighs were screaming. That was to be expected – the price of the grind, if you will. But then something unexpected happened. With his hands on my hips – I suppose that’s our modern take on “leading” – and with his left foot as our anchor, he started to maneuver our bodies into a rather dizzying, continuous pivot.
We grinded (ground?) in circles.
He might have intended to keep circling, round and round, chasing ever-elusive tails, for hours… eternities, for all I know… had I not started making desperate, wild hand gestures and exaggerated grimaces at some friends nearby. The universal signal for “grab my arm and pull me away from this hellish wall-sit-meets-merry-go-round.”