Hi, I’m Normal.

August 30, 2018

In the wake of the prime ministerial version of musical chairs, we thought we would help everyone return to neutral by celebrating ‘normal’. Normal gets a bad rap, doesn’t it? Marylin Monroe famously said, ‘normal is boring,” and Ziad Abdelnour laments about the time he tried to be ‘normal’, describing it as ‘the worst two minutes of my life’.


Yet normal, and boring, play important functions in our social order. Emile Durkheim, the grandfather of modern sociology spent his life researching the strain and social pressure that occurs in periods of social ‘normlessness’.


He referred to the state as ‘anomie’, and it is defined as where society offers very little by way of moral guidance in terms of social and ethical standards that are common among the group. As a freedom loving people, it can be difficult to imagine how social controls could ever be a good thing, but there is a dark side to normlessness that Durkheim discovered and it takes the form of unrest, alienation, and uncertainty.


The research of Durkheim and the researchers who carried on his theory found a strong correlation between normlessness and rates of interpersonal violence and suicide. Normal, it seems, helps us to all behave better.


In layman’s terms, I think what Durkheim is saying is: that is the leadership spill, re-spill, resignations and reshuffles have awoken some primal violence in you…there is science explaining why that may be so…however, it is no excuse to act on it…it is just important to realise that those shifting sands may be providing background stress that will need to be balanced. This is also not surprising.


All things in nature strive for equilibrium – for their normal. Medicine is founded largely on the principle of ‘homeostasis’ which is an optimal state of normal.


Sure, no one created positive social change, advancement in science or the redistribution of political power through normal, through striving to maintain the status quo. The existentialist Camus observed,


“Nobody realises that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”


This observation begs the question as to why anyone would do that when it is easier to just stay weird? It is probably testimony to the beauty and quiet repose that lives in normal.


This week we toast to all things beige. To normal!

One Response to “Hi, I’m Normal.”

  • Enzo says:

    Love your essays, what is order? Order to me is waiting in a queue instead of barging thru,order is using a pedestrian crossing reasonably expecting trafficto stop for you,order is getting a faulty product and being reimbursed,,order is having an appointment with the…. (fill in)…and ..(fill in)…sees you at the appinted time…
    Etc…etc…in the end life is order out of chaos that eventually returns to chaos

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