Series – The concept of “Normal” – What is it?

Recently, while pondering over the idea of what the society dictates for others to follow, Marie Lianne and myself were discussing the idea of what “normal” means in the society. The concept of normal applies to most of the things in our daily lives, even when we do not use that word. If people consider something to be acceptable by the majority, it seems like a normal thing to do, or a normal phenomenon. If there is anything that many people would consider irregular, or not a naturally recurring phenomenon that can be accepted easily, people consider it to be something far from normal.

Guy riding a very small tricycle - is this normal? - Picture by Marie Lianne for the "The concept of "normal"" SeriesLook at the picture in this paragraph for a very gentle example. Would you consider what the guy in the picture is doing a “normal” thing that guys his age and size do? I do, because I would want to do that and more myself. How about you? What do you consider normal about this picture? What do you consider abnormal about this picture?

This is the first in a series of articles revolving around the concept of normality, and what “normal” is considered to be. Today, this article will briefly focus on thoughts that revolve around the meaning of the word “Normal.”

Does the word “normal” have an acceptable, normal meaning?

What does it mean to be “normal“? What classifies as being normal? Do we consider things as being normal if they are acceptable by the majority in the society? Throughout recorded history, and today in our daily lives, we run across people staring at one another if they notice something being done, in any form, that is usually not done, or that is usually not done by them. People will get surprised by those who talk to themselves, and people will also get surprised if they do different things. How does one define what is normal? Are there any requirements that can help classify something as being “normal” or “abnormal“? Do you have a set of rules you think about when you look at any phenomenon in this world?

Standing on the side of a street, you can easily look in any direction and start labeling things as being normal or abnormal. You may consider things to be all right, regular, acceptable, typical, and even “nice!“, and you will still probably be circling around the concept of considering something normal. People do things in order to be accepted into the society, among their friends, into specific groups and in social circles. In such cases, is the focus on doing something normal, or is the focus on doing something that is acceptable by others and maybe yourself?

Is “normal” absolute or relative relative?

One of the most important phenomenons that happen on a regular basis, and that get analyzed and discussed in terms of considering it a normal or an abnormal thing is the concept of having sex under different conditions. Having sex if you are under 18 years old is not considered a widespread and acceptably normal thing in the United States, even if it is a growing trend. The reason for this could be the laws that prohibit some sexual acts for individuals who are under 18 years of age. At the same time, having sex in Switzerland if you are 16 or older is considered normal, because the laws there allow it. Does that mean if a 17 a year old person has sex in Switzerland on a Monday, the society thinks that person and their act should be considered normal and acceptable?

If that same 17 year old has sex in the United states on the same day while that person is still 17 years old, the majority of the public society in the United States thinks that such an act should be abnormal and not acceptable. How is the same act, among the same people, considered normal in one location, and abnormal in another? Morality is usually not a big placard in this aspect, as people usually cite the different laws, explained more below, as the basis for considering something as being bad.

Travel agencies could offer summer trip discounts to Switzerland for teenagers who will be celebrating their 16th birthday during the summer. Would that be normal? Or would that be abnormal?

Is “normal” dependent on the current laws?

Competing with the idea of having sex in terms of something that is considered acceptable and normal in abnormal forms is the idea of drinking alcohol. Less than 80 years ago, it was considered abnormal, illegal, and an immoral act, to drink any alcohol in the United States. Today, drinking is legal, and considered normal by the majority during the Prohibition Era. Al Capone, one of America’s most famous gangster in history, gained fame from the public and caused fear among everyone by doing one main thing: smuggling and selling alcohol. The entire police system at the time revolved around eradicating this non-normal act of pushing and pulling people into alcohol.

That same beer, that the public feared, that the cops and the country told everyone to stay away from, that the country considered an abnormal element in any life, that America went to war against the most famous gangsters in this country’s recent history for during the 30’s, that the mob went to fight to sell in order to make illegal money, is now legal, normal, and on sale for all people over 21 years old all over the country. How can one non-normal thing, that made the society label certain people as being “bad” simply because those “bad” people did the non-normal thing of drinking that non-normal thing, be considered normal today? The human brain still responds in a similar fashion to alcohol as it did in the last 80 years. So what changed? Did something not normal become normal because the law allowed it?

Thousands of people were arrested for drinking alcohol and for selling alcohol during the 30’s. Is it fair to see people before suffer for something that today we allow legally and normally? What changed?

What is normal for you? Stay tuned for more non-normal series!

It can become very complex to differentiate the reasons as to why something may be considered normal and acceptable, two words which are usually use interchangeably to describe the same thing. It is normal to wear a jacket on a rainy day, but it is not normal to wear a t-shirt in the snow. The previous sentence itself is an example of how the concept of “normal” affects our perception of that very word: is normal something that majority of the people do on a massive scale, or is normal something that should be done according to the values of certain societies?

This series will cover these points and more, in order to figure out and share with everyone, and myself, the meaning of the word “Normal“, and how our views on the concept of something being or not being normal affects us, and how such concepts are affected by us also.

Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or thoughts. :)

Thank you for reading.

What is this series about? – The concept of “Normal” info

The concept of “normal” is going to be reviewed, analyzed, discussed, and hopefully eaten with an appetizer through these series. I am creating this series with Marie to discuss this topic in greater length. What is normal? What is abnormal? You, me, Marianne, and everyone else are going to think about it and discuss it together. How does that word, “normal”, affect you? How do you use it? How important do you think it is? How important should it be? Join us, and let us see whether this word and concept called “normal” is a blessing, is nothing, or is a disease that should be avoided!

Marie can be found on her blog “Sweet Tea and a Cloudy Sky“, on her @Marielianne twitter, and her Marie Lianne Facebook.