I AM DIFFERENT (NORMALLY)
Now before I embark on the litany of reasons why the statement “I am different from the other fellows” sticks in my craw every time I hear it (and boy, do I hear it!) from the androcentric camp (I can only hear it from that side as I am female and even though I have healthy female friendships, there is no context for such a statement), let’s establish how the terms ”different” and ”normal” are defined.
Okay, Webster defines different as: 1. not the same as another or each other; unlike in nature, form, or quality. 2. distinct; separate.
So let’s look at the term ‘’normal,’’ according to Webster (same fellow, smart one was he!), this means: conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. 2. the usual, average, or typical state or condition.
Let me make a disclaimer by stating that you can be normally different, and also different normally, the English grammar is forgiving in that way, and allows you to be both, or either of those; however, generally the most common application and implication of the term “I am different, blah, blah, blah,” is that they are unique in their personality, thinking, and modus di operandi.
Okay, to get the preambles out of the way, let me get a little technical by saying that if they were indeed different, then they would have to join the various other races of what we categorise as ‘’aliens’’ (yeah!) on another planet, because that which is not included in the characteristics of the class of homo sapiens is classified as alien, meaning, something that is foreign to the norm (i.e different).
This is due to the fact that in the interest of scientific record keeping, and to facilitate sociological extrapolation, there is a base genetic composition that describes the general class of homo sapiens. This is further broken down to the division of male and female, distinguished by the distinct cerebral wiring and anatomical configuration.
To the folks that identify as belonging to neither of these two categories, I do declare that biologically you still have the nuclei composition that places you in the human race, you may have a different constitutive combination of chromosomal matter, and it may be more or less of that which delineates males from females. But let’s not get off track here, as this is not a lesson in genetics or genomics, and it is terra infirma for me. So for the purpose of the discussion here, I will stick to the male/ female categories.
I will begin this exposition by making the opening statement that to those of you (male or female) who feel you are ‘’different,’’ this is just your mind playing tricks on you……perhaps after you’ve ingested some mushrooms, took a hit, snorted, or whatever mind altering devices you indulge in to float your boat. And so as to not upset your identity flagpole, and throw you in a state of anomie, I’ll try to break this down gently.
Your ideal or construction of what is ‘’normal’’ is created by the locale within which you vacillate, as there is validity to the old adage: you are a product of your environment. Therefore your worldview is created from the language, ethics, values, culture and traditions that outline the way of understanding and negotiating your environment. Your identity is born of this marriage, and the paradigms, values and customs, embedded in the metaphors which you live, existentially, defines and informs your view of what is considered ‘’normal.” Did I lose you? Take another hit and read it again……………..no, really, don’t do that, that only confuses you more! I’ll explain.
For example, if in your world a person is typically thrown into jail for killing another person, then if you witness another person killing someone, you would expect the killer to have to face the gallows. If this punishment is not duly meted out, then you would be outraged and appalled (case in point is the Ferguson issue) at how their action can evade the ‘’law’’ (the rules in society for normal repercussions to an act).
On the other hand, in other cultures, such as India, there is the practise of suttee, where a woman must prove her devotion to her husband by burning on the funeral pyre when he dies. There is also the situation of euthanasia, also known as mercy killing, which is considered an act of compassion to ease an ailing person’s pain and misery.
These examples show different conceptual frames of normalcy as they relate to the act of killing another person. It follows that these ‘’killers’’ involved would be horrified if they were to be jailed for performing these acts that are considered ‘’normal’’ within their milieu.
So, we’ve established here that (1) normalcy is culturally subjective, and (2) by expecting others to conduct themselves according to our view of ‘’normalcy’’ in various situations, we would be guilty of try to impose our rules and expectations of normal conduct unto others.
Accepting that normalcy is culturally defined then, before hauling off and making demands on someone to accept, understand, and act in the way that you prescribe, in the name of ‘’normal,’’ you may first want to try to understand their perspective. Did I really just say that? I don’t know what the hell I was thinking!! Of course, you cannot see their perspective, because you are blinded by trying to impose your own, which you don’t even have a handle on yet! What I meant to say was, trying to determine which category you fit into, parochial or international, will help your to understand where you stand on the issue.
Here is the deal: if you’ve checked ‘’parochial,’’ and you the person you’re tangling with is in the ‘’international’’ category, then clearly you are out of your league trying to dip into some 31 flavours cool-aid. Let me caution you that you’re in way over your head, and you may want to either:
(1) stay in the local pool
(2) get a crash course in world cultures, or
(3) accept and understand that you will be treading water real hard and fast, so try your best to keep afloat. If you choose option 2 or 3, this endeavour will really challenge your strength of character, and your ability to tap dance (but you fellows already have that down, with all the social shenanigans you practise).
The good news is that you can survive if you learn these two survival tips:
(1) Don’t begin any statement with “I’m different from……” remember that person has seen and experienced more pick-up lines than you’ve counted chickens on the farm.
(2) Don’t ever commit the cardinal sin of saying ‘’well you should do this, because this is what people normally (ah yes, the odious ‘’n’’ word!) do! Remember that this person’s sense of normalcy is so vast and varied, that you will appear to them like the only person sitting on an express train in Shanghai, tapping Morse codes on their basic Nokia dumbphone.
Most importantly though, here is the question I am dying to ask of every smooth-talking, Mr Lover, Lover out there: if you are ‘’different’’ as you claim (and one would make the assumption that if you are, and have the cognisance to recognise that you are, then there is the possibility of certain level of intelligence that would be above average. Being semi-intelligent then, you can follow my reasoning here), why on God’s green earth then would you want the person you are with to behave, think, and act ‘’normal’’? This equation, from where I am sitting, is not adding up, A plus B is kinda coming out to CAB!