Saturday, November 19, 2011

Opening the gate to Normal Land

Lately I have been soaked in this thought about what does it really mean when we say that something is 'normal'. Are people really trying to imply this is how it should be? Why is it so rewarding to be normal for some people? Is this like an ultimate ride into conformity land!

I grew up with this idea that if I think someone is weird then there must be some other person who definitely finds me weird. There is still no doubt in my mind about it. It sounds so obvious to me that well, here is this person I really don't enjoy being with because I find that person weird so how weird would I be to someone else? There is no context in my head to this thought because I cannot possibly predict what feature or bug in me is going to make me feel weird to someone, so I just never think about it. But in the same way that I feel liberated by this idea, I have seen that some people find it extraordinarily difficult to deal with the fact that anyone can find them weird. Then begins an exercise into finding reflections off other people & trying to look good in their mirrors of opinion. This sucks. I find this sort of an exercise extremely distracting & can't possibly imagine doing it myself.

But some people do. I don't necessarily think that they are abnormal or weird, but they have a different point of view which I don't or I won't share. They believe in fitting in entirely. But for anyone who has exercised even a bit in their life can tell us that there is a limit to which we can stretch our bodies, but there is no such tangible limit to stretching our minds. This puts us at a complete loss, because once we are convinced by some idea we just kind of get sucked into it. We start slipping into that thought pool & can only get out of it if we have the adequate will power to face the limits of that thought.

So being normal, or watching people scorn other people for being abnormal or weird is perfectly acceptable for most of us, because we have already been sucked into this quicksand of normality addiction. There is different normal for different people, so how could we possibly imagine what a general idea of normality is? For a serial killer who has no moral burden over his actions against his victims, killing can be a perfectly normal state of mind. Maybe that's why TV series like Dexter are so successful, because it puts us into a totally different realm of a concept we (non-serial killers) can so easily believe to be absurd.

So this whole normal business leads to a big bunch of dissatisfaction amongst the lots of us. I have seen so many people get consumed by being accepted that they totally forget about who they really are. I was like that once, trying to live up to the expectations of other people around me, but somehow the tide reversed in my favor. I could easily detach & forgot all about it as I grew up. Good for me.

Take a hippo for example, because it is a really huge example & it is easy to pay attention to big bulky things than a small pin lying on the floor. If some person tells us that when it rains & there is mud all around, he likes to roll in it & enjoy the feeling. This may not be a perfectly normal activity to expect from a sane person, but from a hippo's point of view - well it will definitely find it cool. It will join that person in rolling in the mud & maybe both of them would have a really great time. Just rolling & getting dirty in the mud slush.

So this whole business of preferential normality, or in english, my normal is different from your normal,  leads us to this really boring conclusion about how cults or groups are formed. People who think something is normal for them & find other people who do it too, will find each other & will come together to share their normality. For them perhaps, if they aren't so open minded, will find other people's normal to be really obnoxious & something to stay away from. The tragedy here is that a lot of people wish to impose their view of normal on a lot of other people. Would a mother obsessed with cleanliness & perhaps having OCD for keeping things clean, force a hippo out of the mud? It will sit on her to begin with, just to protest.

History is filled with such examples of people imposing normality on others, colonisation perhaps, religion definitely, philosophy for sure, political ideology & all those pretentious things people tend to believe when they think they know it all, or worse - they know better.

That just shows perhaps how difficult a political idea like democracy can get, which  can become an ultimate exercise in conformity. What most people believe is good for all, is the law & the rest who don't believe it to be good are, well just the abnormal minority. That's why it must always be fun for politicians who get to steer the majority opinion in their favour by not usually putting up great solutions for society's problems in front of the people, but just a thought which most of the electorate will believe to be in their favour. That's it, & the rest is taken care of on the election day.

So how do we deal with this normal bug? How we as a species deal with something so basic & fundamental to our thought process, & change it into an unpleasant experience of being open? I know it is possible & it makes finalizing judgments rather difficult. It takes a whole lot of time to take a stand for or against something when we are being too open about it. Open may not always translate to making the right / contextually appropriate choices. Only in hindsight can we say if being open was really the right way of doing it & there couldn't have been another equally efficient alternative solution. Being open is like being in a constant state of motion & some people tend to get motion sick.

Because, being open may not be everybody's normal.

1 comment:

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