Friday, August 5, 2011

Isn't It Ironic, Don't You Think?

Just the other day, I was watching a video in which someone explained that he uses the word gay to mean stupid because he is "an ironic liberal." I am not linking anyone to this video, as the arguments it contained were ridiculous (not gay -- ironically or otherwise -- because arguments are not attracted to other arguments of any sort or gender, assuming that arguments even have genders, which I doubt).

Let's clear a few things up:

1) Irony is "the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning." Thus, using gay as stupid would imply that the concepts of homosexuality and intelligence were in any way related. This is incredibly untrue. Thus, there is no capacity for the use of the term gay to mean stupid and achieve irony. I would say sorry,but it would have to be ironically, because I in no way apologize for the meaning of these words.

2) As the word gay refers either to homosexuality or happiness (setting aside all overlaps thereof which would be puns and not ironic), the only way to achieve irony using this word would be to use it to refer to things that were either heterosexual or sad (including any overlaps thereof, which would not be puns or ironic). Thus, if I referred to two heterosexuals of the opposite gender kissing as gay, that might be construed as ironic, but more likely we would consider that annoying and ridiculous, and I'd look like a prat.

Ironic does not refer to things that are frustrating, accidentally offensive, or just don't make any sense. I'm sorry, that catchall, quick fix only works on people who don't know what the word means. I'd like to think most of us do.
Remember the song "Ironic" by Alanis Morisette? (Which I will link to, because it's a nice song.) Of course, the real irony of that song is how much of the song is not really ironic. But we know that now.

So, please, people of the internet, stop misusing the word ironic or assuming it's a quick cover for being a prat. You're damaging the English language, misinforming people about the meaning of words, and frustrating the people who know what that word actually means. And because you're making a fool of yourself. There's that too.

Are you a fan of irony?