Right now, I’m sitting in the Denny’s where I used to work, watching servers who don’t know I cleaned the same tables and did the same sidework only two years ago. The entire staff, from servers to cooks to managers has been replaced since I left. So has the clientele. I do not recognize a single face in here tonight, when I used to know about 40% of the after-10 crowd by name. The things that haven’t changed: employees still eat at tables 32 and 49, and the booths are still brown leather.
Not the point.
The point tonight is weirdness, or rather, how nothing is truly weird since the advent of the Internet.
There’s a customer here tonight, with pink hair and a peace symbol tattoo, wearing a tie-dyed t-shirt with the word “WEIRD.” screen-printed backwards. Now, I’m pretty well-versed in going against the social norm, seeing as I’m a 23-year-old with an flip phone and an illogical resume. Regardless, “going against the social norm” is completely normal behavior for people between the ages of 15 and 30, which essentially makes rebelling . . . normal.
That isn’t earth-shattering to anyone. The paradox of conforming to non-conformism has been philosophized by high school outcasts for decades. So if “normal” is normal (such as no tattoos, traditional jobs, traditional relationships), and “not normal” is normal (tattoos, unique jobs, 21st-century relationships), what in the hell does it mean to be “weird?”
I’m half-tempted to walk over to the girl and ask her how exactly she is different from any other pink-haired, tattooed 21-year-old in Phoenix. Considering that I was a pink-haired, tattooed 21-year-old two years ago, I think the question is fair. Does she abstain from Facebook? Does she have 3 college degrees? Has she been married and divorced? Is there anything about her that is actually unusual?
The reason this hits me tonight is because I read a blog earlier where the gent talked about singing in his house, and being embarrassed to find someone in his living room who thought his actions peculiar. It irritates me that anyone would consider that weird, as I’ve never met a living soul who hasn’t burst out with a song or made odd noises at some point. Hell, I’ve been known to do it in public from time to time.
Years ago, before the internet was commonplace (yes, children, there was a time like that), people thought stuff like that was weird, so they kept it to themselves. However, forums and blogs and other wonderful things came around, and suddenly we discovered that all of the weird little things we kept to ourselves were things that tons of other people also did.
So in this new world of information and cyber-solidarity, what in the world does “weird” actually mean?
Sidenote: the Denny’s soundtrack got a lot better since I worked here.