Questioning what is considered normal behavior

William T. Robinson, Jr.

Civilized cultures, races, and classes have accepted expectations of what they consider normal or expected modes of acceptable behavior, which the masses should exhibit in a defined community. These behaviors are based on the studies and observances of established standards or usual practices of the populace in a given group or environment. Acceptable and expected behaviors are often defined and heralded by social scientists, psychologists and those who often benefit most from engineering human behavior.

Anyone deviating from what is considered the accepted mode of behavior (including practices and modes of thinking) is considered atypical or abnormal. Adhering to normal and socially acceptable guidelines literally relegates us to a monolithic society that borders on ‘one size fits all.’ But in reality what is considered normal can be contentious when one manifests natural constraints deviating from the generally accepted populace. All too often, those not following what is considered normal are subjected to ridicule or penalized.

Often, what many people feel is normal for them is not considered normal by the accepted social establishment. There are genetic and environmental factors that often make what is established as normal dependent on the individual. Behaviors or actions that one may exhibit that are not harmful to themselves or the public can be different and contentious as well as atypical or abnormal to others—but not the person themselves.

We should take a closer look at defining or acknowledging what is considered normal in a multitude of circumstances, taking in the reality or experiences of affected individuals—simply saying that what is normal for you may not be normal for me. Therefore, don’t be so fast to impose your expectations of what you feel is right onto someone else based on what you have been taught as normal. In fact, what is considered normal varies dependent on cultures, locations, and groups.

‘Normal’ is a word that for the most part, subconsciously promotes conformity. It colors those not going along with it as defiant and atypical. Resisting practices considered ‘normal’ sometimes relegates a person to being a maverick, troublemaker, or just plain defiant—even to being cast as a pariah.

We need to understand that normalcy is contingent on a person’s subjective behaviors and views rather than what is average, usual, and standard among a designated group. Not being considered normal isn’t always an insult or a reason to feel inadequate. Normal patterns adhered to by the masses can be misleading and erroneous. Being able to break from a group’s calculated perception of what is normal and define your own view based on self-analysis can promote self-empowerment.

The truth of the matter is that historically discriminate and inhumane treatment was commonplace and accepted as normal behavior by a segment of the population in the South. This abusive and inhumane treatment was even indoctrinated in laws that kept people of color disenfranchised or in subservient roles. What we perceive as normal can be open to interpretation and in some cases a violation of some peoples’ basic human rights.

What may be considered normal should always be up to interpretation and not always accepted as established behavior to be followed by all. Normalcy has been used at times as a constraint to justify treacherously insidious miscarriages of justice. Those defining normalcy are often in a position to control the actions of others, whether for good or bad.

Hopefully, we will arrive to a point where what is normal for one person or group is not always considered normal for everyone, and that it is acceptable and okay. Contrary to what some people think, normal is not a practice or view that is etched in stone and incontestably followed by all—even if you personally don’t feel or view something the way others do.