“Nobody goes there anymore.”

Was thinking about irony recently.  Not dramatic irony or humorous irony used in storytelling or joke telling.  I love that shit.  But I was thinking about irony as a way of life – a way of walking through the world with a sort of disdain for the norm, for the mass-appeal, and for the manners and modes which the majority stamps “approved.”  You know what I mean, I think, and when I speak of those who embrace this ironic approach to things, you know WHO I mean – from the tiresome friend who sarcastically (and, potentially, with great wit) tears down virtually everything that would dare to be sincere, to the more harmless baseball fan who leaves the price tag hanging from his brand new cap.

This ironic approach can sometimes arise from a noble place – the desire to be original, to be true to oneself, rather than blindly embracing what others tell you to like or want or be.  But it seems to me that irony is not truly an original response to this desire, nor an expression of individuality.  It’s as derivative of the norm as sheeplike acceptance.  If you’re a New Yorker you might love the Yankees because that’s what New Yorkers do; or, if you embrace the ironic approach, you might hate the Yankees because it’s the opposite of what New Yorkers do.  Either way your mode is determined by the norm.

Now, we can spiral down the rabbit hole here, because you can argue that we don’t really CHOOSE to like anything, but instead that we like or don’t like the Yankees (or anything else) because of something in our past or our genes that influences us in ways we can barely sense, and if we have to choose some reason to like or hate the Yankees, then the embrace or rejection of the norm is as good a reason as any.  And I might counter that this apparently compelling argument would, if taken to its extreme, completely abnegate (even annihilate) free will.  And I, for one, can’t go that far.

Regardless, whether there is some YOU in your choices or whether they’re just the inevitable result of your biology and history, it seems more fun and fascinating (at least to me) to free them from dependency on society’s norms, and to explore their myriad sources.  And if the YOU in you (or the medley of influences on you) turns to irony or sincerity in any given moment, so be it.  There’s plenty of room (and need) for both.

“Nobody goes there anymore.  It’s too crowded.”
~Yogi Berra

3 Responses to ““Nobody goes there anymore.””

  1. Charlie Says:

    Ideally we’d weigh the value and rightness of a norm and react accordingly; in the absence of that you’ll have a higher batting average by reflexively rejecting norms than by reflexively accepting them.

    I’d venture to say most of the idiocy and atrocity in human history can be more or less traced to groupthink. I’ll stick with the skeptics.

  2. Charlie Says:

    p.s. skeptic ≠ joyless, sarcastic complainant. A free thinker can find happiness in truth and humor in everything else.

  3. tb Says:

    Thoughtful words from a free thinker. Thanks Charlie.

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