40+FAB Blog

When is it normal?

Did you hear the joke about the passenger who tapped the taxi driver on the shoulder to ask a question? The driver was startled, shouts and runs the car off the road. He turns round to the passenger and says, don’t ever do that again, I have been driving a funeral van for 25 years and this is my first day on the job as a taxi driver.

Who defines the standard of normal? There are many helpful guidelines that we know to be factual and some we know to be true which determine our frame of reference to what society agrees to be normal.

The main determinant to normal seems to be what people agree it is. A test was conducted where a fire was simulated in an office. Loads of smoke was pumped into the building and the fire alarm was set off. Several staff members were briefed to carry on as normal, and a new staff who was unaware was asked to resume on that day.
The outcome was that each time the test was conducted with a different new staff member, most of them carried on as normal because they saw the other staff members did too, even though they knew that smoke and a fire alarm meant evacuate the building.

Another determinant of normal is what we are used to and have practised for so long in our own space. Just like the new taxi driver was not expecting interaction from his passenger. It had become normal to him to drive bodies that did not move.

Our civilisation is on the verge of defining normal again, but we should be careful to balance what is truth, what we are used to and what majority agree on to get our own sense of normality.