I don’t want to be normal. I don’t want to always fit in, cow down or blend in. But in the great diverse nation of America normal is what’s being insisted on in schools, workplaces and communities. So who decides what is normal? Normal is what the culture in a society says it is based on the majority consensus. Society’s influences plays a huge part. Where do most of these influences come from? Besides religious beliefs they primarily come from marketing and the media. Some of the most pervasive and influential ads come from the pharmaceutical companies. They make you reevaluate your physical and mental health by asking if you ever feel down, laugh too long, go to the bathroom too frequently or get a headache from stress. Then they show you the solution in the form of their pill or liquid that will bring you back to “normal”.
Of course if symptoms lasts for more than a month or so you probably should seek a doctor’s advice but if it’s just a reaction to a crisis or upset and lasts just a day or two you could probably just use coping skills. And, they are not the only marketing schemes meant to bring you the ability to fit in with society. Manufacturing industries, cosmetic companies and fine jewelry also promote a “keeping up with the Joneses” solution by purchasing their cutting edge products.
I have always questioned why things are the way they are, and it just concerns me what influences the society I live in to make the rules of conformity for “normal” because it influences city ordinances, government guidelines and even education. The criteria to access benefits in your community is based on what that society perceives your needs are according to their perception of normal.
Public schools try to be a little more flexible with things like clothing and hairstyles. But any individualism like tattoos, too many earrings, hair colors or anything else that they deem distracting to other “normal” students is forbidden. The workplace is worse because it is usually up to the management and their perceptions of normal as to the expectations of self-identity. Noncompliance could cost you your job.
Personally, I’m not comfortable with conflict and the stress it creates. I think most people feel this way and so we comply. Unless you are filthy rich, and eccentric, bucking the system of normal is too high of a risk and too easy to be ostracized. However, I believe we have more power than we know we do. The influence of marketing and media are based on profits. If they are pulling the strings of influence we have the ability to cut those strings. Not all marketing and media are negative though. Some ads can be very informative in ways that promote further research that otherwise would have been ignored. We can promote those marketing and media efforts and ignore or refuse to buy things that promise to fix us so that we “fit in”. We can live by example and become the individual accepting diversity and even promote it. We can produce a consumer demand from that more diverse culture. We have always had the power over big business but sometimes it can be too easy to be lulled by their persuasive melody.