General Question

Zaku's avatar

What do you make "normal" mean?

Asked by Zaku (24543points) March 9th, 2008

For example, some people seem to closely associate “normal” with “good” or “ok”, and “abnormal” or “weird” or “strange” or even “unusual” with “bad” or “wrong” or “undesirable”.
Others seem to have an opposite counter-reaction, valuing things for not being “normal.”
And, what is or isn’t “normal” also seems entirely up to opinion, even though many people seem to treat “normal” as a universal true thing, even though they aren’t sure what is and isn’t normal, and consult others.
So I’m just polling for viewpoints. I won’t judge, because I’m clear that “normal” is nearly meaningless to me, because no one agrees on its meaning.

So my request is, look at what you think normal means, and what values you give it, positive or negative, and share. Thanks.

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15 Answers

BioTechWarrior's avatar

normal has many different meanings per person but I myself think its means not being extremely different but just a little

Lightlyseared's avatar

“Normal” is usually taken to mean conforms to the ideals of society. Therefore what is or is not “normal” depends upon the society of the time (and place), what is “normal” in one place may not be “normal”. Whether or not you value normal or abnormal depends upon how you view the society in which you find yourself.

kevbo's avatar

To me: Normal is “conventional to most people,” an opposite of “interesting” and a surrender to conformity. Normal is dining at Chili’s or Applebee’s on a Friday night and driving an American sedan. It’s okay to be normal every so often, when you’re not up for making an effort, but I would die inside if I had to live there. Normal indicates a lack of imagination, or perhaps an undervaluing of imagination. Normal is also what people who haven’t accepted diversity pine for.

Normal is uninteresting, which is sometimes okay, but breeds complacency in large doses.

Riser's avatar

Los Angeles, Ca is an interesting anthropological study. It is an environment that is the paradigm of normal and abnormal.

On one hand Los Angeles is an open minded community that embraces the many facets of diversity equally. Its people encourage experimentation toward individuality and are leading the way in progressing politics toward a more unified whole…

In the same breath there are so many “self-professed individuals” that “normality” and “abnormality” have evolved, or replaced themselves.

Mostly this is a result of the surrounding society, however this is not a majority collective but rather a group who have defined their normalcy in ab normalcy, therefore forcefully evolving the application of terms.

Los Angeles encourages abnormality that ultimately results in “complacency.”

It’s all about the paradigm; the patterns that allow anything to become individual – a fad in most cases.

TheHaight's avatar

I once told my friend “your weird” and she shot back “your normal”..... I felt a little insulted because I don’t look at being normal as a good thing. But its okay to have a balance of being “normal” and “abnormal”..

Riser's avatar

This generation more than ever before applies negativity to the word “normal.” which again is what has spawned the “individualism fad.” which then makes it normal. :D ahhhh humanity…

gooch's avatar

It is also a real place. Normal, IL

occ's avatar

Your question made me think of the play The Fantasticks – the main character is a 16 year old girl, and she has this fabulous monologue that ends with “Please, God, PLEASE! Don’t let me be normal!”

Poser's avatar

Normal is situation dependent. It’s the middle of the bell curve. It’s neither good nor bad. It just is.

Zaku's avatar

@Poser: Would you say it is really situation-dependent, or is it more precisely observer-dependent – only existing in the mind of whoever decides (or whatever group agrees) to draw a curve based on some perception?

Poser's avatar

@Zaku—If you plot on a graph a certain characteristic for all people within a group, it will typically plot as a bell curve. Different curves for different characteristics or traits. I guess then you could say it’s both situation and observer-dependent. The bell curve truly does exist for different situations, but it’s the observers who choose to call “normal” those at the top of the curve.

Zaku's avatar

@Poser: Ok. Seems to me that also, the observers choose what to graph, how to pick which examples to include, and how to evaluate each item.

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

normal- pshh… it’s just a setting on a washing machine

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

normal is boring. I seek out folks as friends that qualify as ‘not normal.’ I have a very nice collection of unnormal friends, and I cherish each and every one of them. Sure, I occasionally get a bad apple, but they just remind me that even odd folks can be little shits too.

ponderopus's avatar

“Normal” to me, is a very meaningless term, intended by those who use it to describe something, as a means to purposely substitute an opinion for a truth (Justified True Belief). So, if we look at an abstract example of it’s use: “Oh, that’s just normal.”, I immediately react with the thought (somewhat subconsciously now) normal = implicit excusing of some type of subject’s behavior that the excusing party expects and carries the assumption that you will agree that ____ is, indeed, normal. Typicially Neglected in this type of conversation are discussions and agreements on such things as what the Norm is [for this particular context] the implicit and explicit knowledge both known and shared of and by either party of the conversation, and how much of the known knowledge comprised of truths – absolute and relative – and beliefs, which are quite different. These considerations are those that I strive to entertain each time I’m confronted with “normal.”

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