Rules are Made to be…?

by Sally Applin

In the past day or so, I’ve been wondering what constitutes a “trend.” I write about “trends” but how do I define them? I sort of see them as the activities of the first few cows that will inspire the herd to follow suit. That’s the best I can do at the moment.

There seems to be a more serious trend going on that I’d like to write about–and that is the trend to break rules. As a society we have laws and policies to help us function in a group together. Criminals are the ones who break the rules.

Trendsetters break rules of expected behavior. What they do is what everyone else is not doing–but it doesn’t necessarily make them criminals.

In the New York Times there was a recent article about the NFL and sweatbands. Sweatbands used to be worn on the wrist. Their function was to be used to mop up sweat off the brow. Sweatbands were worn on both wrists so they’d be handy. Players in the NFL have moved sweatbands up the arm and made them skinnier. They are now worn around the elbow or bicep to accentuate muscle definition. They are no longer used to mop up sweat, but the wearer thinks they benefit him by making him look good.

I can think of another trend that did that: extracting equity against the perceived projected appreciation of a property. It made mortgage companies look good in terms of profit, it made individuals look wealthier. It was the “bicep band” of finance.

Football players have a job to do and they know their game–whether or not they choose to wear a “bicep band” isn’t going to affect every other person in the country. It might affect their self-confidence which impacts how they play, and to some extent that will impact their team and maybe their pay, but it is contained within the realm of football.

Financial people on the other hand, did know better. They knew that they were putting on “bicep” bands that affected every homeowner. The realm wasn’t a stadium, it was a basic human need for housing. They knew that they were breaking the rules that help society function, and they were shameless about it. 

Football players know the rules of football and they use them. There are referees to be certain that in every game the rules of football are followed. If a player doesn’t follow the rules, chances are they aren’t going to have a long career in football. The team will suffer.

Financial people didn’t care about following the rules. There weren’t any active referees monitoring them and they felt confident to make up the rules to suit themselves.

If the people that are supposed to be upstanding and adhere to a code, can’t or won’t, then how do we remain a society and how does our culture shift? It isn’t my intent to sound melodramatic, but I think there is a big difference between the trend of “bicep bands” and the trend of flagrantly hacking the established moral compass.

Trend: I’m sad to say it, but I think the trend of “rule breaking” is growing.

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

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