#42 – The New Normal

You like to think of yourself as normal, no?

But what is it to be normal?  How is normal defined?  What is it, to be normal?

Here’s a definition of the word.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/normal

The definition of normal, and what it means for something or someone to be normal seems pretty straightforward.

But if you dig into what it is to be normal as it applies to you, and to me, and to people, perhaps it becomes a little harder to define.

I think about a lot of things – if you’ve been following along that has been made abundantly clear.

I have theories about many of the things I think.

Descartes famously said ‘I think, therefore I am.’  (Read about Descartes here if you are interested https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Descartes) If that is true then I am the am-iest person that exists.  I think, therefore I am driven to distraction.  I think, therefore I am crazy.

descartes[1]
Thinking….

But whatever, I think about things.  And I was thinking recently about what it means for people to be normal, and about norms, and about normalcy.

The definition of normal as it applies to things other than people is easy to see.  If normal means the average or the mean in mathematics or statistics or science it is a helpful and useful definition.  Statistical and empirical evidence is how we should and do (sometimes) decide what is true or not true, and what a course of action should be taken.

But when applied to people, what is normal?  Think about normal, and what you think normal is.  Are you normal?

If the measurement of what is considered normal as it apples to people is used, really all that can be determined is what the average is or what the most amount of people do.

But who is doing the measuring?  What group is being measured?  And if you do not fit within those averages, are you normal?

What if it’s normal to have 2 kids and you do not have 2 kids.  Are you normal?  What if it’s normal to be of a certain religion, or a certain political group, or a certain race but you are not of those groups.  Are you normal?

I suppose it may not matter.  If you are not of the average and not considered normal, then so what?  Who wants to be ‘normal,’ anyway?

Here in the USA we pride ourselves on our individuality, and that probably applies to most of the people around the world.  We are, or like to think of ourselves as different or important or special.  And maybe that’s true.

But when I think about the antitheses of normal, what do you get?  Abnormal.  Deviant, as in deviation from the norm, or what is normal.   And those words and definitions may be straightforward on their surface.

But those words, when applied to people, have a negative connotation.  Do you want to be called, or considered by those words?  If you think of yourself as special, or different, or an individual from the norm, do you want to be called abnormal?  If you are not normal, are you a deviant?  Probably not.

So which is it?  Do you want to be normal?  Or do you want to be an individual?

Why should that matter?  Does it?  I think it does.  You may be saying to yourself, so what, I don’t care if others do not consider me normal.  I’m me, I’m an individual and I don’t care what others think.

If you think that, you are one of two things.  You are either a very confident and strong willed person, and if that is the case, congratulations.

But I don’t believe you.  So then the other thing you are is fooling yourself.

That’s not to say that you can’t be or can’t consider yourself different or special.  But what I think is that you don’t want to be called out on it, or have your individuality or the way you are or think or what you represent used against you.

From the time we are children we notice and comment and even ridicule others for there difference and for their deviation from what is considered normal.  Maybe you specifically do not do that.  But people do that.  Groups do that.  We do it, we as a mass and a society have decided what normal is.  And if you think ‘we’ do not use the what we’ve decided ‘normal’ is against those we do not consider ‘normal’ then you haven’t been paying attention, either to the issues of the day or to anything historically.

I agree.  Who cares what is normal.  Except when what is considered normal is imposed on others.

That’s the theory.  That’s what is wrong with us, we the collective we.  We want to be normal, and we want others to be normal, and we impose what we’ve decided to be normal on others.  ‘We’ve’ spent years, centuries, millennia imposing what we think or want to be normal onto others we consider abnormal or deviating from that norm.  And ‘we’ impose it by shaming or by law, but mostly though violence.

So it’s not a specific issue that is the problem and that’s why we cannot solve our problems.  It’s not religion or race or sexual identity or anything else specifically that causes us so much difficulty.

It’s the imposition of normalcy onto those who are not considered normal.  But what it is to be normal cannot and will never be defined, as it applies to people.

What is normal for the world may not apply to specific counties.  What is normal in those countries may not apply to specific groups within that country.  What is normal in specific groups may not be normal to your family.  What is normal to your family may not be normal to you.

Normal, as it applies to us, is meaningless.  Yet we want it and we use it.

If everyone is an individual and wants to be treated as such, then let’s do that.  Stop imposing your normal on other people.  And stop being afraid to deviate from the norm.

If everyone is an individual, is anyone?  If anyone is special, is anyone?  Is that’s what normal is?

I’m a deviant.  I actively try to go against the norm, because I think the norm, or a least the imposition of it, is stupid.

But I’m not confident enough to not feel shame or uncomfortable about that deviation.  I’ve been shamed, and I make myself feel bad about it.

I’m an individual.  I also want to be normal.  But I don’t know and cannot define what that is.  And that’s my problem.

Far be it from me to challenge Descartes.  But maybe he had it backwards.

I am, therefore I think.  I don’t have any control over it.  Maybe that’s what my problem is, too.

SPONGEBOB TRYS TO BE NORMAL

 

 

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3 thoughts on “#42 – The New Normal”

  1. Just “catching up” on my reading of your blogs. Found this one interesting and concerning. I agree totally about the weirdness of what humans do in classification of “normal/abnormal” and all the subsequent consequences that you mentioned. And yep it happens to all of us – from both sides – but I try to catch myself on it. Wondering if (originally) there was some evolutionary advantage to doing that but we sure DON’T NEED IT anymore!!!
    I can totally relate to “I am, therefore I think”. I can’t stop thinking either – about everything. And I’m sorry that you feel uncomfortable about it. I don’t think it’s a problem. I find you to be an extremely interesting person when you share who you are and your thinking.

  2. Rather deep and thought-provoking. Your individuality could be your normal and I would rather think than worry about status quo and yet I too have that struggle. Keep being you, keep sharing, and keep trying to believe in yourself as unique and special; you are that for others even if you haven’t discovered that feeling.

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