Saturday, 30 June 2012

Back to normal

We all like to think that we never worry about being "normal", that we just do our own thing, however weird or unusual it might be. I mean, who wants to be "normal"?

Not true of course. The fact is that we're always striving to be normal, whether we're aware of it or not. We may all want to do our own thing, but we don't want to be seen as a total loony. Nor do we want to be seen as undignified, embarrassing or vulgar. In private we have a very precise image of an appropriate public persona and we stick to it meticulously.

We don't go around

Sobbing with grief and misery
Laughing hysterically
Talking to ourselves*
Wearing pyjamas, wedding dresses or pink polka-dot suits
Ranting about the state of the world
Picking our nose or farting
Pointing at fat people
Smashing car windows

Dignity is very important to us. We don't want to be viewed as a figure of fun, an emotional wreck, or someone hopelessly out-of-control. We want to appear sensible, mature, responsible - in a word, dignified. And what is being dignified but acting normally, behaving in a way that other sensible, mature individuals would expect us to?

The occasional lack of dignity in suitable circumstances is fair enough - at a funeral or a party or a divorce hearing. But we soon put a stop to it and reassert our everyday decorum. We'll happily defend the idea of eccentricity but actually most of us steer well clear of it. We may think Grayson Perry's fabulous but we're not going to greet our own neighbours dressed as a small girl with a lollipop.

We're all more normal than we like to think we are.

* The less said about that the better 

24 comments:

speccy said...

Thankfully, 'normal'has a broad range :)

Rummuser said...

Normal is a relative term. I have a young lady friend who thinks that I look grand when I wear jeans and checked shirts and says that she feels more comfortable with me when I wear that combination. My friends who I meet regularly at the garden, all closer to my age, think that I look comic. I indulge both. But I am not normal by any yardstick any way.

Nick said...

Speccy - In theory normal is something quite specific, but in practice as you say it has a broad range because everybody has a different idea of what "normal" means.

Ramana - As I said to Speccy. I guess the Indian norm is probably jeans and checked shirts, but that's not how your garden friends would define it.

Scarlet Blue said...

I believe I may have lost all dignity since the FGES competition...?
Sx

Scarlet Blue said...

...ticks box...
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet - It's impossible to have any dignity while wearing the elfshorts. Unless you're an elf of course.

What do you mean, ticks box? You mean you're surreptitiously trying to be normal? And trying to avoid pointing at fat people?

Scarlet Blue said...

Follow up comments box ticking malarky thingy wotsit....
Sx

Scarlet Blue said...

Is it just me and you left in the Blogosphere, Mr Nick...
Should I switch my avatar a couple of times to prevent your comments box from looking like an Andy Warhol fanatic has pasted recurring images all done the screen?
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet - Oh, the follow-up comments box. I hardly ever use those. I heart Marilyn, she can pop up as often as she likes. Or you could substitute Penelope Cruz. Or Sally Phillips. Or Victoria Cohen. All very congenial.

You're right, the blogosphere has mysteriously emptied. Everyone's got better things to do. Like stuff themselves with chocolate cake. Or cut their toenails.

Suburbia said...

Striving to be normal here!

kylie said...

i'm feeling both abnormal and alone in the blogosphere right now but i see there are in fact more abnormal blogging people than just me

glad you are better old boy
xx

Nick said...

Suburbia - I have an image of a Dalek: "Normalise, normalise, normalise...."

Kylie - Oh, you mustn't feel abnormal and alone. You're just fine the way you are. I shall come and visit you right now.

Old boy? How very dare you.

Cheerful Monk said...

In fact I don't think about it very much. I figure I'm normal for someone of my type. It's just that my type seems to be rare. :)

Nick said...

Monk - That's a brilliant formula. I must remember that.

Jenny Woolf said...

I agree. Isn't it true also that people have different definitions of what "norm" they're trying to conform to. Pyjamas and wedding dresses probably don't conform to anyone's norm, but smashing car windows does conform to the norm in a particular group, I suspect.

Nick said...

Jenny - Indeed, the norm varies from group to group. And if your group smashes car windows, then you'll feel obliged to smash a few in order to feel normal.

Wisewebwoman said...

I recommend this Youtube Nick for a good laugh at "normal".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUXJvP-pvNc

XO
WWW

Nick said...

www - She's very funny. What's really interesting is how the audience are not sure whether to laugh or not. Should they laugh at a disabled person? Should they laugh at her jokes about disability? They're too uptight about disability to just go with the flow.

John Gray said...

well written and interesting that man!

Nick said...

John - I could say the same about your own blog. Which is always splendidly eccentric, wayward and unpredictable....

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

OH and I pride ourselves on being a little eccentric, but you're right - we still worry that we might overstep the mark and be seen as total loonies!

I do laugh hysterically though. I think it's good for you!

Nick said...

Jay - I often laugh hysterically as well. But not usually in public.

blackwatertown said...

There's no shortage of people wearing pyjamas out and about.

Re dignity - I don't equate it with a desire to fit in or appear normal. The one redeeming feature of an eccentric may be their obvious dignity.

And as Morrisey points out - "there is no such thing in life as normal."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjxIq9wzavk

Nick said...

Paul - You're right, dignity is not always a nod to normality. Like those who keep their dignity by defying a tyrannical political regime and refusing to knuckle under.