It’s hard on me, this series. Each week I wonder when the well will run dry, when I’ll offer something really dumb. The usual writer neuroses…
Plus I’m a true fan of words, language, diction. I love all of it! Without words there’s no humanity. Words matter! So picking on them… it’s awkward.
I’m not down on words, actually. I frown on some of the ways they get used, especially when people get lazy, using vague generalities.
Hence this week’s word:
The useless word of the week is “NORMAL.”
Google offers multiple definitions:
As an adjective: “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.”
“Synonyms: usual, standard, ordinary, customary, conventional, habitual, accustomed, expected…”
As a noun: “the usual, average, or typical state or condition”
As you can tell, “normal” is rather subjective. It’s meaning depends heavily on the standards and expectations of the people involved. By itself, it means basically nothing.
It depends on circular reasoning. What’s normal? It’s what people decide it is. How do they decide? By the definition of normal. And so it goes.
Normal can be abnormal somewhere else, or at a different time. Homosexuality was abnormal, a mental illness in fact. Then it wasn’t: it became normal! Except for those people who disagree. Which is normal or abnormal itself, depending on who you ask.
What’s abnormal? Well, anything that lies outside normal. See above.
People try to “be normal,” because social approval comes with some really nice perks. Trouble is, it means lots of different things, changing all the time. It’s boundaries are quite fuzzy, not a good sign for a word devoted to nothing but defining the boundaries it doesn’t actually define. Yet people sling this word around all the time, as if it adds something to the conversation. Of course, that’s perfectly normal…
You tell me.