The Age of Irony

I admit it: I’m a bit of a narcissist. Has anyone else ever posted something that they were really fond of on Facebook, then thrown a little hissy fit when it hasn’t gotten as many “likes” or comments as you were expecting? Yeah, me neither. The internet does that to us. And the problem is that it’s inescapable. I’m not fishing for feedback here, but I always get annoyed when a post I put a lot of time and effort into fails to get any “likes” or comments. It just makes me feel like nobody ever reads this (which, I’m fairly certain, is wrong, but sure feels that way). So from here on out, I’m going to try a bit of a different tack. I’m going to try being honest about what I actually want. Oh, I’m not going to stop being sarcastic. The one caveat is that since I still don’t know exactly what I want, I don’t exactly how to ask for it. So really, I guess you could say that I expect things to go on more or less as they did before. Sigh. My dreams have gotten increasingly vivid lately. That means that I am not quite acknowledging something that is very important to me, and need to start taking bigger risks. A few nights ago, I spent over an hour rooting around Spotify trying to remember the name of a song I wanted to listen to earlier but hadn’t been able to. When it finally came to me, I felt like I had scratched an itch inside my head. Whenever I fixate on something like this, it means something big is coming. I hope I can handle it, whatever it is.

This might sound strange coming from a dude for whom sarcasm is basically a second language, but I think we misunderstand the purpose of irony, and not just in the way that Alanis Morissette did when she wrote that song that, as every single “funny” person since the mid-90s has pointed out, lacks any real examples of irony. People use irony as a defense mechanism. That’s not how it works. Don’t say something stupid, then say that you were just being sarcastic. If it was a joke, what was funny about it? Ask yourself that the next time you can’t tell if I’m joking. If it sounds too ridiculous to be true, it probably is, but if it sounds even more ridiculous than that, it probably is true. I know that sounds confusing, but it really isn’t. We “funny” people have to walk a fine line. When I told a joke at Christmas dinner that was a bit too subtle, my father asked me to repeat it so that everyone could pretend to find it funny the second time around. I did, and they guffawed at my cleverness. I hate my family.

I think I’m beginning to understand why I dedicated so much time to tracking down that one stupid song (which is this one, in case anyone cares). Have you ever found yourself presented with so many options that you just don’t know where to begin? You know, you walk into a bookstore and see so much stuff you’ve wanted to read for years that you just want to buy everything? Sometimes, I go on a shopping spree, and that can be fun, but I prefer to moderate my approach a little more. It’s nice to not have to spend all of one’s energies at once. Part of the reason I am so cynical is that I am tired of people telling me it’ll all work out in the end. What end is that, death? I’d like shit to work itself out now, thank you very much. I’m not interested in how it all ends so much as what’s going to happen after. I still remember the first night I made quota as a canvasser. It was magical, working itself out so perfectly that I couldn’t have written it any better. They fired me not long after, as I couldn’t repeat the success (well, I almost did on the last night). It was a remarkable story, but not a happy one.

You were thinking of him just now, weren't you?

You were thinking of him just now, weren’t you?

It’s kind of sad that an unsentimental fellow such as myself has to stick up for sentiment. No, I’m not a big softie underneath it all. I do occasionally experience these things you humans call “emotions”, but that’s about it. I’m just sick of people couching what they really mean in several layers of coolness. I was surprised, upon seeing Les Miserables a couple months ago, to learn that some people consider the musical schmaltzy. Really? I just think it’s direct. Characters state their intentions, backstories, and desires just like that since we have a lot of story to unspool and musicals tend to work like that. It’s not shitty just because it’s not Sondheim, and I’m pretty sure that having characters express their feelings in a song because they would sound stupid if spoken aloud is the very heart of musical theater. I am not an expert on the medium, but I think Les Mis is easily one of the best musicals ever produced. Rent isn’t bad either, but sweet Jesus, is “Your Eyes” a godawful song.

Joss Whedon once observed that people tend to communicate better when they have to find nonverbal ways to communicate it. (Bonus points if you can guess what he was commenting on when he said that.) I would like that to change. It might make things easier on everyone if we could just take people at their word when they say they’re not interested, or that they’re happy to see you. I’m tired of wondering whether that person who promised to call me sometime is actually going to call me. And for the sake of bros everywhere, we have to be able to believe guys when they say that they’re just friends, and are totally not gay in any way, shape or form. For that to happen, however, all of the closet cases will have to stop lying to themselves. That could take a while.

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