Welcome to Normal

A road map to Normal.


Did you know that there are some people who think loading toilet paper with the feed coming from underneath—rather than the clearly superior over-the-top approach—is normal? Having interacted with a few of these curious folks, I can tell you that they’re perfectly nice, well-intentioned individuals who, like the rest of us, want to do their bathroom business effectively and efficiently. But for whatever reason, they operate under the erroneous assumption that their topsy-turvy TP method is not only appropriate, but actually typical!


When we run into differences like this—diverse philosophies on mundane activities to which a single solution seemed obvious—it’s a reminder that we live in a strange and fascinating world, a landscape populated by Others who engage the commonplaces of life in the most unlikely of ways. What seems “normal” to them can feel utterly alien to you and me.


In this time of political division and strife, we here at Slate feel it’s important to embrace difference—to revel in it rather than run from it. And so, we present you with the Normal blog. For the month of October, our writers will investigate a host of everyday activities, presenting their best cases for what is—or should be—normal, and reporting on the reasoning (however flawed) of those who do it differently. Our subjects will emerge from bathrooms and bedrooms, from offices and the internet. We’ll consider smartphone organization, dentist chair etiquette, grocery store strategy, and everything in between. And while we are not pretending to scientific rigor (where’s the fun in that?), we aim to present as rich and illuminating a picture of quotidian human endeavor as we can.


We hope you’ll join us on this journey, and we encourage you to voice your own view of normal in the polls featured on each post and collected below. And a word of advice: If you find yourself challenged by the sudden realization that your way is not the only, or even the most popular, way, allow the experience to be one of wonder rather that fear. After all, it’s boring at the top of the bell curve—life’s more fun when you’re a little bit weird.

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Cereal Is the Most Normal Thing You Can Eat. But Do You Eat It Correctly?

Bras Are the Demons of the Laundry Pile—so Wash Them as Infrequently as Possible!


Make Eyes at Your Dentist—It’s Normal!

Lots of Us Listen to Podcasts Faster Than “Normal.” Join Us!

Pets Aren’t the Same as Children—but They Certainly Feel Like It

Drifting Off With Your Honey Is the Best Part of Partnered Life

Microsoft Word Is the Only Word Processor for People Serious About Words

The Key to Ending Inbox Anxiety Is One Simple Word: Delete

Pain Is Silly! Be Prepared With Your Own Mini-Pharmacy

We’re Not Animals! Washing With a Soap Applicator Should Be Normal.

Undershirts Are a Proud American Tradition

A Uniform Approach to Daily Fashion Should Become the Norm

How Much Fridge Organization Strategy Is Normal?

Do You Clip Koopons or Cyoopons?

How to Conquer the Grocery Store

Having an Aspirational Home Library Is Totally Normal

Trick-or-Treating After 13 Isn’t Normal!

An Intriguing, Totally Not Recommended Method for Clearing Your Earwax

One Man Considers the Joy—and Heartbreak—of Squirrel Love