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Norm!

The phrase every reporter seems to know.

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The New Normal is the new comedy from Glee’s Ryan Murphy,” relays Paste magazine. “The New Normal is two dads,” says the website of the Houston Chronicle. “If gay is the new normal,” asks the Times of London, “where does that leave straight?” “Gay is the new normal,” restates Details, flatly. “Transgender is the new normal,” sniffs Catholic Insight. Baltimore’s City Paper and the Chicago Reader stake their own claims: “Black is the new normal,” says one. “Nerdy is the new normal,” says the other.

The Orange County Register interjects to mention how it once read that Julianne Moore has said that “cosmetic surgery is the new normal.” “HPV,” says Glamour. “It really is the new normal.” (“Self-absorbed is the new normal,” mutters Jezebel.) “For waxing, 12 years old is the ‘new normal,’ ” says Today. “Puberty before age 10,” the New York Times wonders, “a new normal?”

“The old ‘creepy’ is the new normal,” says Buzzfeed.

Newsweek wants to talk about the big picture. “Since the financial panic of 2008, ‘the new normal’ has become conventional wisdom,” it explains. “That phrase has caught on, even if people disagree about what it means,” agrees The Economist.

“The new normal is serial disasters: economic and ecological,” broods The Nation, and the Huffington Post ticks off examples: “Heavy rains, deep snowfalls, monster floods and killing droughts.” “A drier ‘new normal’ is forcing US farmers to dig deeper wells,” reports the Christian Science Monitor. “The new normal is bleak,” sighs the Times’ Opinionator blog. Outside the Beltway nods. “The new normal sucks.”

“‘The new normal’ is the new vexing news-speak for matters that are rotten,” notes Counterpunch, the radical newsletter. “Mark how ‘the new normal’ only refers to degeneration and deterioration—political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, and so on.” A press release by Lake Superior State University joins the dissent. “Often, hosts on TV news channels use the phrase shortly before introducing some self-help guru who gives glib advice to the unemployed and other people having financial difficulties.”

“Uncertainty is the new normal,” says USA Today, repurposing a sentiment from a self-help book called Credibility: How Leaders Gain It and Lose It, Why People Demand It. “The old order has been so shaken that it has become impossible to describe exactly what the present or future holds.” Nevertheless, guesses are ventured:

“Twelve hour workdays,” says HuffPo.

“The 24 hour work day,” says Marie Claire.

“Continuous stimulation,” says Newsweek.

“Specialty coffee,” says a book about coffee.

“Sleeplessness,” says Playboy.

“The new normal is old hat,” declares The Wall Street Journal. “Goodbye arugula, hello macaroni and cheese.”

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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