Anything but normal

I don’t think ‘the new normal’ is a helpful turn of phrase. An important feature of normality is that we know what to do when confronted with it. We do normal things. We do them with a casual confidence that we know what is going to happen as a result. I may be alone in this but my sense of casual confidence is fleeting at the very best. My sense of confusion and anxiety is pretty durable, however.

All of this is new. It is not normal. It is thoroughly abnormal. That’s why we talk about it, describe it and compare our experiences of it constantly. That is why our media digest is full to the brim with coverage and commentary. If it was normal, we wouldn’t bother. We would ignore it.

The seemingly endless diet of speculation can be tiring. It is, though, better than the appearance of certainty. That is starting to feel really toxic. Whilst neither modes are particularly helpful, it is important to treat anyone offering certainty with utmost suspicion – they are not to be trusted.

We are left with discovery as a survival tool. Discovering what seems to work, discovering what appears to explain what is happening and rediscovering a modest and practical confidence in what to do next from those discoveries. In professional life, for me, this involves experimenting as a means of figuring things out. For some, a more radical expedition, enforced or chosen, may be more appropriate. Not sure I have the wearwithal for that yet.

I realise that waiting to see is part of the world we live in and will be for a long time. I am optimistic (with due modesty) that discovery will make the waiting easier and will aid the seeing as well.

3 thoughts on “Anything but normal

  1. Barry Sampson

    I do know what you mean, but I’m less concerned about it. In practice I take the words “new normal” as a gentler way of saying “you’d better get used to the fact that nothing is ever going to be like it was before, but we really don’t know what it will be like”.

    I think it’s really important that we have a short form way of acknowledging that change is happening and also that we don’t know what the end point is. I suppose the advantage of “the new normal” is that it gives the reassuring suggestion that at some point we will reach a point of equilibrium even if we are unable to describe it.

    1. Yes. Good point. There is a helpful journalistic shorthand to the phrase and a useful saving of editorial effort. I wonder though that equilibrium is yet reached – I still sense much uncertainty and change afoot.

      1. Barry Sampson

        I agree 100%. Although I’m okay with the term “new normal” I think there is some considerable distance still to travel before we get there.

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