20 Social Norms That Are Actually Really Messed Up

Life is a rollercoaster of crazy customs and social norms that leave us all scratching our heads and going, “What in the world?!” Seriously, we humans have this knack for coming up with the weirdest rules and traditions, and it’s time we take a hilarious trip through some of the quirkiest ones!

One Redditor asked, “What social norms are pretty  weird if you think about it?” This thread received thousands of insights, and we have listed the top 20 comments for you!

1. Expensive Burials

Crying woman at funeral
Image Credit:
michaeljung via DepositPhotos.com.

First off, funeral costs can be through the roof! You’ve got fancy coffins that look like they belong in a luxury mansion, and don’t even get us started on those burial plots – prime real estate for the afterlife, for sure!

A discerning Reddit user commented, “Paying tens of thousands of dollars to bury corpses in the ground.”

Another replied, “There are actually fairly strict laws about how a human body is to be disposed of. Generally speaking, you can’t simply bury a body in the backyard, even if that’s what the deceased wants.”

2. The Garter Toss

Angry bride isolated.
Image Credit: believeinme via DepositPhotos.com.

One said, “Garter toss is  weird.”

Another person shared similar thoughts and mentioned, “Yeah, we did not do this at my wedding. Really creepy custom. I don’t need to see my coworkers and my husband’s friends clamoring for something that’s just been around my thigh. And I wanted to keep my bouquet, so I tossed the maid of honor’s bouquet instead.”

And let’s talk about the awkwardness of it all: the bride is sitting there while her new husband is practically reaching around under her dress in front of all their family and friends.

3. Trying To Have a Kid

Happy mother with baby in hands
Image Credit: Syda_Productions via DepositPhotos.com.

A Reddit user wrote, “Oh gosh, don’t get me started on this. With my in-laws now, it’s every. God**n. visit. All the time. I do want children (and they know it), but this just makes me want to run away.”

Another added, “Fertility issues, IVF, genetic testing, managing health prior to, sperm counts, daily needles or meds. All day every day makes no sense when a woman ovulates a few days out of a month. I don’t understand why people continue to make this stupid joke.”

Another person agreed to it and said, “I wasn’t getting pregnant for the longest time in my marriage, but I wanted to. That question would make me wanna go hide and cry.”

And let’s talk about the pressure! Oh my gosh, it’s like society expects us to follow this pre-written life script where we date, get married, and then immediately start having kids. But guess what? Life doesn’t always go according to plan. Maybe people want kids, but the timing isn’t right, or maybe they’re still figuring things out!

4. Movies With Friends

A young joyful couple is with their daughter in the cinema, watching an exciting movie.
Image Credit: bbernard/Shutterstock.

Someone commented, “Not going to the cinema by yourself. If I’m going to sit in silence in a dark room while looking forward, why do I need other people there? It’s not a particularly social activity.”

Another replied, “I go to movies by myself a lot! I think people need to get over the stigma of going alone.”

But let’s be real – when you’re at the cinema, you’re sitting in the dark, stuffing your face with popcorn, and not even talking to your friends during the film. So, why can’t you do that alone?

5. The Courteous Act

Portrait of angry furious offended senior person with bob hairdo wear pink shirt scream in conflict isolated on blue color background.
Image Credit: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock.

One shared, “Asking people how they’re doing as a matter of courtesy when you truly don’t care and are hoping they just say “good hbu” in response.”

Someone else added, “You know, you walk out the door. You see someone that you know, and they ask you how you are, and you just have to say that you’re fine, when you’re not really fine, but you just can’t get into it because they would never understand.”

But what if we just cut the charade and asked genuine questions? Like, “Hey, how’s your day going?” and actually listened to what they had to say? Imagine all the connections we could build if we actually cared about how others were doing.

6. Blowing Cake Candles

middle age mature woman holding cake slices stressed and frustrated with hand on head, surprised and angry face
Image Credit: Krakenimages.com via DepositPhotos.com.

It’s a little gross, isn’t it? You’re standing there, spitting all over the cake, and everyone’s supposed to cheer and eat it like it’s the best thing ever. 

This user wrote, “Blowing out candles on a birthday cake.”

One said, “It never occurred to me how weird and gross this is until Covid.”

Another person shared similar thoughts and mentioned, “Even if you can’t see it, particulates of saliva are probably getting all over the cake when anyone does this.”

7. Face in Cake

A woman shoving her face with cake .
Image Credit: Alan Poulson Photography/Shutterstock.

A discerning Reddit user commented, “Pushing someone’s head into a birthday cake. Especially when the person/kid whose head is pushed in the cake has no idea about this “tradition” ahead of time.”

Another person agreed to it and said, “Honestly, this was something I only started seeing a few years ago. When did this become a thing? Have people always done it, and I was so sheltered that I just never saw it? Regardless, it’s just disgusting, and I have no idea why it’s funny to be so mean to someone on their birthday.”

But wait, why are we even doing this in the first place? Is it some ancient tradition passed down from cavemen times? Maybe it’s a secret plot by the cake industry to boost their sales and buy two cakes. You never know, right?

8. Expensive Weddings

Cheerful young couple in love having fun outdoors
Image Credit: Satura_ via DepositPhotos.com.

Someone commented, “Fairy tale weddings. Huge money and stress for an over-choreographed one-day party.”

Another person pitched in to say, “And it’s all just a show to impress other people. I mean, if you have the money, by all means, have the biggest wedding you want, but the amount of people who put themselves in debt at the beginning of their marriage is insane.”

Nowadays, we’ve turned weddings into a competition, where everyone’s trying to outdo each other with their wedding extravaganzas. It’s a never-ending race to have the most jaw-dropping, Instagram-worthy wedding of the century.

9. Balloons

Beautiful woman is hiding behind red balloons and looking aside secretly.
Image Credit: Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock.

A Reddit user wrote, “Balloons. Here’s a plastic sack of my breath. Happy birthday.”

Another added, “You’re reminding me of a story someone posted on Reddit in which someone was going around after a kid’s birthday party trying to open the balloons so they could inhale the helium (they were not helium) and only getting a lungful of “stale dad breath.””

But in the end, balloons are just one of those weird social norms we’ve embraced without questioning why.

10. Bow Ties

Closeup photo of cool aged man open mouth indicate fingers empty space black friday prices wear specs mint shirt suspenders bow tie isolated bright pink pastel color background.
Image Credit: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock.

One shared, “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.”

Someone else added, “I don’t understand why men have to wear suits and long pants with long sleeve shirts plus ties no matter how hot the weather is. That’s torture!”

And let’s not forget the discomfort of wearing a tie all day. It’s like a fashion accessory is slowly strangling us. And what about the summer heat? Wearing a tie in sweltering weather should be considered a form of torture!

11. The Work-retirement Culture

Mean Boss in Office
Image Credit: eric1513 via DepositPhotos.com.

So, you’re fresh out of school, and suddenly, you’re thrown into the workforce. You’re expected to slog away at a job for, like, forever until you reach retirement. But wait a minute, why do we have to work for so long before we get to enjoy the good stuff? 

One wrote, “A woman at my work retired at like 67 to take care of her newborn grandchild when the mom went back to work. A few months in, she got brain cancer and died shortly after. Work, save, plan, save more, retire and die before you can enjoy the savings. Brutal way to go.”

Another replied, “My old boss was about that old and never even got to retire despite planning to do so within a couple of years. Leaving for work Friday, it’s all “See you next week!” business as usual, come in Monday to find out he died over the weekend of either a stroke or brain aneurysm. The man dedicated his whole life to his work, and for what?”

12. Speakerphones

woman smiling at phone in her hand
Image Credit: marinademeshko via DepositPhotos.com.

One said, “I feel like too many people talk on speakerphone. Do you remember when conversations were private?”

Another person pitched in to say, “Can’t remember the last time I was at a highway rest stop where I DIDN’T hear some random guy having a full-on phone conversation while on the can. Being on the speakerphone while on public transit is also annoying to everyone around you.”

But you know what’s even weirder? It’s become so common that no one even bats an eye anymore!

13. The ‘Happy Birthday Song

Unhappy birthday guy with stubble feeling sad and disappointed because nobody came to celebrate his anniversary, blowing party horn all alone, confetti flying around him.
Image Credit: Cast Of Thousands/Shutterstock.

A Reddit user wrote, “Everybody hates being sung happy birthday, and everybody hates singing happy birthday, so what the heck are we doing here?”

Birthdays are about making people feel special and loved on their big day. It’s about creating memories and sharing moments of joy. And sure, those are beautiful intentions, no doubt. But couldn’t we come up with a more natural way to do it?

14. Tipping

The hand of the waitress takes the tip. The waiter girl receives a tip from the client at the hotel bar. A bartender woman is happy to receive a tip at work. The concept of service.
Image Credit: lunopark/Shutterstock.

Okay, picture this: you’re at a restaurant, and you’ve just finished a delicious meal. You’ve already paid for the food, but hold up-, now you’re supposed to cough up even more cash for the server? Um, excuse me, isn’t that what the menu prices are for?

Someone commented, “The expectation of tipping for certain jobs, as a substitute for paying employees a higher wage.”

Another added, “Tipping is such a buzz kill. I lived in Australia last year and they don’t tip. They actually pay their employees a living wage. It was fantastic….”

15. Hugging Family Members You Don’t Know Well

Photo of young girl disgusted dislike bad smell negative
Image Credit: deagreez1 via DepositPhotos.com.

One shared, “Forcing or encouraging a child to hug a family member that has known them since their birth, but the child doesn’t have any sort of bond with said family member.”

Someone else added, “I always tell kids whose parents tell them to hug me that they don’t have to and offer them a fist bump instead.”

And let’s not forget the “go on, give Aunt Susan a hug” pressure from well-meaning family members. But guess what? Kids have their own feelings and boundaries, and they shouldn’t be forced into uncomfortable situations.

16. Being Nice When Your Family Doesn’t Deserve It

Older serious middle aged dad man wearing a cardigan looking down his nose over his glasses making eye contact directly at camera.
Image Credit: Ana Anderson/Shutterstock.

We’ve got this unwritten rule that says family should always stick together, no matter what. But hold up, does that mean we must tolerate bad behavior and toxic relationships just because we share some genes? 

A discerning Reddit user commented, “People expect you to get along with family (parents, siblings) even if they treat you badly.”

Another replied, “Exactly, my older brother would beat me daily, call me racist slurs, body shamed me, etc. And whenever he would say something about me, I would stay silent. At one point, he was saying something along the lines of “The reason you don’t have friends is because you look like a pig.” (My parents were right next to us when he said that) 

So I simply replied, “At least I don’t have the same body type as a bowling pin”. My parents instantly heard that and started lecturing me about how I have to get along with my brother. The whole time that happened, my brother had this disgusting smirk on his face. The minute my parents left, I punched that revolting smirk right off that nasty cow. We got into a full-on fistfight. I won the fight. But I know I’ll never win my parents’ love.”

17. Texting Rules

Portrait of astonished girl blogger use her cellphone
Image Credit: deagreez1 via DepositPhotos.com.

So, you’re texting your friend, and suddenly, you agonize over how long to wait before replying. Is it too soon? Too late? Should you play it cool and wait for hours like you’ve got a busy life, or should you respond ASAP like you’re super eager to chat? Ugh, it’s like a texting mind game! 

A Reddit user wrote, “All these random “rules” about texting people. Texting is supposed to be a medium to talk to people, and they can respond at their own convenience.

Instead, it’s turned into a puzzle of deciphering how long messages should be, how long I should wait before replying, do I double text them or not, did they read my message, why did they leave me on read, the list goes on and on…”

Another person agreed to it and said, “Same here. Way too many rules to “abide” by. If the other person really cares, then they probably aren’t worth talking to”

18. Listening Devices Being Everywhere

Angry girl screaming on the phone
Image Credit: Srtajihan via DepositPhotos.com

Virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant have become our personal spies, hanging out in our homes, waiting for the magic word to wake up and offer their oh-so-helpful advice. But wait a minute, should we really trust AI with all our deepest secrets? 

One said, “Having listening devices hooked up to the internet in most homes.”

Someone else added, “Or having “hey Siri” activated so your phone is listening to you every moment it’s turned on.”

19. Women’s Products

Photo portrait of mature handsome man arguing irritated face annoyed raise palm wear trendy green garment isolated on blue color background.
Image Credit: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock.

A user wrote, “Women’s shoes. I am a man, btw but I had this argument with my wife; I told her women’s shoes were impractical and uncomfortable; many of them, like heels, are very bad, but flat ones are also just as awful and just dam right pointless. Eventually, when I explained that most Men’s shoes they are comfortable and robust and a little bit of rain doesn’t soak them, she suddenly went, ‘yea, they are s***’ but said that’s what we wear. Literally, a social construction for women to wear s*** shoes.”

Another added, “It’s like this with women’s clothing and accessories in general. Women’s clothes are made with thin fabric that wears through quickly, wallets fall apart after a year and latches on purses frequently break. It’s why we go shopping so often.”

Someone commented, “I’m a dude, but I absolutely want to make a women’s clothing company called Pockets. Why does nothing have a pocket? They’re super useful!”

Now, we are not saying you should all ditch fashion altogether and live in a world of practicality. Fashion can be fun and expressive, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good. But can’t we find a better balance between style and comfort? How about having clothes with pockets, shoes that don’t murder our feet, and sizes that actually make sense?

20. The Bicycle Bars

quirky woman riding on a bike with a basket
Image Credit: deagreez1 via DepositPhotos.com.

A discerning Reddit user commented, “Why do men get the higher bar on the bicycle when they take more damage from hitting it?”

Another replied, “For real, I was so upset when I finally mastered riding a bike, and I was awarded with one that it easy to rack myself with. Like what the heck society lmao.”

Biking should be comfortable and safe for everyone. But can’t we find a more sensible and inclusive way to design bikes?

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Image Credit: True Touch Lifestyle/Shutterstock.

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Old Man in a hat as a cowboy.
Image Credit: Thomas Mucha/Shutterstock.

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woman trying to scam older couple.
Image Credit: lisafx via DepositPhotos.com.

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Woman as a driver eats and drinks during the car ride and is therefore careless and distracted.
Image Credit: Dan Race/Shutterstock.

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Image Credit: Lemon Tree Images/Shutterstock.

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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.