What does “normal” even mean anymore? I am losing track of the usual meaning and it stresses me. (More)

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Here are Miriam Webster’s definitions of normal:

2 b : conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern normal working hours He had a normal childhood. the effect of normal aging

4 a : of, relating to, or characterized by average intelligence or development IQs within the normal range
4 b : free from mental illness : mentally sound symptoms of paranoia in otherwise normal persons

Normal is being used a lot these days. Trump is not normal. They way he is behaving as president is not normal. Those worried about facisism and authoritarianism keep tweeting about how we should not normalize Trump’s behavior.

So I went out to the porch and asked my son, daughter-in-law and our other roommate, all 35 to 44, what does normal mean. My daughter-in-law, who has a masters degree and is a licensed marriage and family therapist and runs a non-profit addiction counseling center, said: “Trump is a narcissist and what ever your definition of normal is, he is not. I ask my clients what they think normal is and they usually think they are normal. When I ask the if they are happy with their lives, they hesitate.”

The two guys went off on a riff of what does normal mean anyway. Everyone wants to think they are normal and it’s totally personal. They did say that Trump’s behavior as president was unprecedented. They were uncomfortable with “normal” for some very well-argued points. They are all Democratic voters and think that Trump is unprecedented but they are not as tuned into the ramifications of some of his policieas as I am.

The three of them tend to think that the American people won’t let him get too out of bounds. I wish I shared their optimism. I told them that the very idea that we were in “post-factual” territory really freaked me out. How can we solve problems without some facts to examine against which to weigh the solutions? Could the two guys propose solutions at their place of work if they were just making stuff up?

“No way,” they said. “The numbers don’t lie.”

I asked them what would happen if some of the government data was discarded and or fudged at the direction of Trump. They were aghast and open mouthed. I opened my iPad and gave them examples. I asked if they thought this was not normal or unprecedented.

They acknoledged that at this point the actual wording didn’t matter. If I wanted to say this was not normal, they would agree. I am counting on them to persuade their coworkers.


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