“Regular people,” just stop saying it!

It’s one of the most ideological phrases we use. “Regular people.” You hear it all the time, with statements like “I prefer (insert town) over (insert other town) because it’s full of regular people. It’s not uppity.” The problem is that this assumes a couple things, chief among them is the assumption that there are such creatures known as “regular people.” This itself presupposes that there are “irregular” people to contrast with the regular people.

When individuals use this phrase, it’s usually tied into a classist assumption, like the phrase above, that those who have more are not “regular people.” They, in fact, don’t understand the plight of the “working man.” Nor do they understand what it means to live day to day, pay check to pay check. These aren’t the kind of people who will sit on the porch and drink a Bud Light. The working man’s beer. No, they have to have wine. Or microbrews. However, this assumption does more damage to the “regular people” it is trying to bolster than they realize. In actuality, they are reinforcing the structure they find themselves, by taking pride in not being the well off Other, they are asserting that this is the structure they prefer to reside in, and so nothing changes. Likewise, it marks out the more affluent as un-human.

There are no regular people though. Apart from the classist bent, the phrase also presupposes that there is some definition of “regular” that everyone can agree upon, but just as there are no two snowflakes the same, so no two people are. Scratch the suffer of someone’s “normal” life and you’ll find a multitude of unique experiences that have shaped and molded them. Even similar experiences are uniquely different, as the perception of the event varies between people. As much as normative structures may call us to some sort of homogenous identity, and they do a good job of it, it will still fall short.

In short, stop using the phrase “normal people.” We all deserve to be treated better than “normal.”

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