Don’t be different, Part 1: Don’t be less than average

i-am-dumHumans, as a species, just don’t like people who aren’t average. We don’t like people that have more than us and we REALLY don’t like people that don’t have what most of us have. Being an outlier when it comes to society carries some pretty drastic consequences. With the invention of the internet, these consequences are now viral.

People of Walmart is a humor site dedicated to sharing photos of Walmart shoppers that are somehow unusual. Maybe they’re ugly. Maybe they’re poorly dressed. Maybe they’re poor. They are somehow not average-looking people wearing average-looking clothes doing average-people things.

While the site is intended for humor, it really serves to reinforce that people who don’t do average things are not only not welcome in society, but used for entertainment. The photos are, for the most part, taken without the person’s knowledge or consent. The posted pictures illicit all kinds of comments and reposts, all agreeing that this person doesn’t deserve to walk around looking not average and deserves to be punished for it.

The “offenses” most people commit include being overweight, wearing clothes that don’t fit, wearing clothes that aren’t off of the rack, wearing clothes that aren’t popular with their age group, being ugly, being too sexual or other things of that nature. They aren’t hurting anyone by doing what they do. They aren’t violating any laws or threatening anyone else. They are simply not being average people and that has to be punished. Swiftly.

But this isn’t the only way that being below average can cause offense. America, being a driven and goal-oriented society, has certain milestones that it demands people to reach and heavily criticizes those that don’t. Going to college is a big one.

Sometimes college won’t help an individual with their career path, sometimes a person doesn’t do well in a college-type atmosphere. But there is still an impression given to children as well as the rest of society, that college is not only something you should do but something that you need to do in order to be successful. People that opt not to go to college a lot of times have to or feel that they have to explain why they didn’t go.

Another is a prestigious job. We look down on minimum wage workers, sanitation workers, janitors and other undesirable employs. The thought is that if you hold a below average career, you are lacking intelligence, drive, education, or some other mystery item that is keeping you from becoming on par with your generation.

Women sometimes face backlash for their reproductive decisions. In the US on average, 2 children are born to every woman. But this number includes people like the Duggars and other famous families that give birth to more children than a sports team and women that don’t have children at all. The extremes will garner both scorn, questions, and a steady reminder that what you did with your body is not average and therefore weird and not permissible.

When it comes down to it, everyone should be free to choose their own destinies, regardless of what is normal or average. No one deserves to be boxed into decisions because they’re afraid of the societal backlash against it. You only get once chance at living and you have to do it for yourself.

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