An end to irony or: How I learned to love sincerity.

As visitors to this blog, I assume that you are a) interested in the happenings of Media and Reserve Services, b) trying to find the hours or c) here by accident. But as long as you are here, and reading this, I want to suggest something that might make your life better. In this era of eschatological uncertainty (you know—like apocalyptic stuff) and high anxiety, we too often seek out distractions, whether it be the internet (most often), TV (fairly often), magazines (less often), or contact with people in the real world (almost never).

 

How did it get this way and are distractions appropriate responses to the craziness of the real world? To answer these questions, I want to discuss our misuse of the term “irony.”

 

Now you are probably going to say, “Come on, Alex. What do you have to say that David Foster Wallace and/or Chuck Klosterman haven’t said before, better, and did we already say better?”And I would respond, “You are right. I can talk the talk, but it is probably stolen verbatim from someone wiser than I.”And since we both recognize this, we can move on without having to go into too many details.

 

Merriam Webster defines irony as: “the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really think especially in order to be funny.”You and everyone you know has a favorite book or TV show that they claim they watch “ironically.”“Why would I, an educated young liberal dare to watch the complete series of Gossip Girl?”Why, because it is great. When I was younger I wrapped everything I said in seventy-seven layers of irony. No one could understand if I was being sincere. It was a defense mechanism, and a crappy one at that. What I have come to realize is that I like a lot of things that on paper I should not. And at the end of the day, who cares? We all need distractions. This is the difference between hipsters and pop culture lovers. Hipsters do things “ironically,”meaning they do things they would do anyway but have the added bonus of making fun of it to their friends. Ain’t life an infinite jest (get it? Foster Wallace reference, boom!). Pop culture lovers love the same things that hipsters love, sincerely. Both are fine. One is not better than the other, especially since both groups love the same things sincerely for the same reasons: A) because it is entertaining and B) it serves the purpose of distracting people from real things like jobs, taxes, picking up cat litter, etc.

 

This is my revolution. To end the misuse of the term irony. Stop saying you are watching a movie or playing a game ironically. You are just supporting the Alanis Morissette misuse of words. You are doing something that you either sincerely enjoy (so go enjoy it, unless it is bad like not wearing deodorant or murder) or you are doing something you sincerely dislike (which you should stop doing, unless it is you know, like paying attention to your kids or recycling or whatever…). Go ahead, watch Gossip Girl AND Pretty Little Liars, you 320 lb linebacker. Or go ahead, watch Dirty Jobs AND Mythbusters, you Tri-Delt. It is OK. It will all be OK.

 

Sincerely,

Alex