I confess to feelings of rage when people try to bolster their argument by adopting an unwarranted tone of certainty. Such as, “It was the wrong thing to do. Period.” I’ve seen this tactic used in arguments all across the spectrum of importance, from movie reviews to global warming. Admittedly, it’s a little disarming at first when I hear it. I kind of think for just a moment, “Well, he seems awfully certain.” Then I realize I disagree with them and that doing so doesn’t make me an idiot.
I confess to a realization that enjoying things ironically has gone entirely too far. This idea first hit me when we took a vacation in New York City last year and I saw people whose clothes seemed ridiculous until you got to their facial hair. Then last week, I was at a play and the only beer served from the tap was Pabst Blue Ribbon. I kind of laughed because I had heard so much about it being a hipster beer, and ordered one because it was cheap and I didn’t want a soda. It was godawful.
And goddammit, that was a tipping point. Wear t-shirts with wolves howling at the moon or oil change franchise polos. Wear rainbow belts with funny belt buckles. Wear ridiculous sunglasses. Spend the better part of an hour scuplting your facial hair so you look like a civil war hero or a vaudeville villain. But for the love of God, don’t drink beer because “I know, isn’t it hiLARious?”
Where does it stop? How about if with that beer, we eat terrible tasting food because the chain’s commercials are ridiculous. And after we’ve finished our ironic meal we go see an idiotic movie so we can laugh at the people who actually wanted to see it because they thought they might like it. Once we’ve finished the movie that was terrible in an awesome way, we can go home with our spouse and have ironic sex. Is that really much more absurd than “enjoying” awful beer?
I confess that what bugs me so much about all this irony is the cowardice of it. I realize a lot of people are doing things ironically because they’re making a statement of how it’s ridiculous to care so much about some of the choices we make. At least I hope they’re making some sort of statement. But I think what’s happening more often is people are sheltering themselves from making choices that show their actual preferences. It seems like they’re feigning a lack of interest in the things they’re ironic about, but to be ironic about things seems to take just as much thought as being genuine. And if people really didn’t care about all these things they’re being so ironic about, why are they making so many choices that make them stand out?
I confess that it’s a little silly to rail against all this irony in a confession from an agnostic that’s not really confessing anything.