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The New Normal

Apparently, I am from the old school. Who knew? I’ve always fancied myself as one who kept abreast of modern technologies, current events, social rhythms, and etcetera. I have never denied my chronological age; in fact I enjoy it. I’ve earned every day of it. But, I have never wanted to be one of those guys who finds a chair in the corner and watches the world go by.

Stan Hall

Maybe I am naïve, but I think that it is actually possible to be prevalent and fifty at the same time. But certain things in our society are changing and I must admit that I am having some trouble embracing all of it. 

The point in question is something known as the new normal. This is a phrase that is used more and more to justify…well…some thing that is not normal. So, what exactly does that mean? I thought that we had defined the definition of what normal meant several years ago. It’s in the dictionary. I looked it up myself to be sure that I wasn’t confused about it. The dictionary states it very clearly. It says: according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule or principle. I think that I’ve got it. I thought that I had always had it. But apparently there are those who have a slightly different interpretation of the word. 

Some have redefined and interpreted the word to mean: a behavior, situation or action that one might enjoy or find acceptable (in their mind) and try to integrate that way of thinking to other people’s minds, even though those other people find that behavior, situation or action not to be normal (in it’s original context). So wait, how does that work? 

If I don’t like something that is, and has always been, considered normal, I can just change the definition to fit my situation and call it the new normal? I bet Jeffrey Dahmer wished that he had thought of that concept. I can hear him now…”what?”…. “It’s the new normal.” Oh, okay, why didn’t you say so?” “How could I have been so stupid and closed minded?” And the worst part is that we go along with these excuses for unacceptable behavior, based on a lame statement, as “it is the new normal.” 

It is simply an attempt to excuse what is not normal. It is the same ploy we tried when we got in trouble as kids. Even thought we knew our parents had us dead to right, we would look them straight in the eye, never blinking, and utter those immortal words. “Johnny’s Mom and Dad let him do it, it’s normal.” We knew that it was never going to wash but we put it out there, each time, with a courtroom like statement that even Perry Mason would be proud of. Even after making the statement, we would maintain that gaze for just a moment before dramatically looking down to the ground in an attempt to make them feel guilty for their uninformed and underserved sanctions against you. It may have worked for some of you; it did not for me. Before I finished the final stages of my “eyes to the ground” technique, my Dad would begin a very vocal tirade about how unconcerned he was with Johnny, Johnny’s parents, what Johnny’s parents had let him do, and my overall interpretation of juvenile justice. What he also did was to correct the record that it most definitely was not normal behavior. And, very effectively I might add. 

It’s no different with what we are being asked to accept today as the “new normal.” It isn’t the new normal. It isn’t the old normal. It hasn’t ever been normal. And someone who does something that is not normal should not be able to normalize it by saying that it is. But apparently, our society has softened up a bit, no…a lot, as to what is and is not normal anymore. We live in a world of “Que Sera Sera.” We have become so politically correct, so conscious of offending someone, and God forbid damaging someone’s self -confidence, that we now just let everything go. Nothing is wrong anymore. It’s the new normal. You can do what you want, when you want, and to whom you want without any ramifications because it is the new normal. 

I think that it is okay to say, at some point, “hey, do what you want but don’t try to write it off as normal.” Because…it simply is not. It is far from normal in some cases. Those who think otherwise are only fooling themselves; and the others who go along with this fantasy-based justification are just as bad. If some of the things that we see taking place today actually are the new normal, then our country is in a bad place. Wait, maybe a screwed up country is the new normal. There is plenty of evidence out there to back up the screwed up part of that statement. But normal…I hope not. I’m all for change. But it must be a change that has merit, reason, and substantiation. The change must be fact based and most importantly of all, it has to be change that is better that what we already have. That line of thinking is normal. The “new normal” line of thinking without anything substantive is ludicrous. 

And just for the record, fifty isn’t the new forty, sixty is not the new fifty, and men going bald and shaving their heads of the last remaining hairs they have is not because it is the new style and new normal. They’re shaving their heads because they are going bald. And also…just for the record; balding is in fact normal. Michael Jordan can pull off that polished dome look, most of us cannot. New normal or old normal; just try putting on a hat. It’s perfectly normal. 

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Stan L. Hall is the former (retired) director of the Victim Witness Program for the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office.