Living without Irony

I found this article so stimulating. Christy Wampole wrote “How to Live without Irony” which appeared in The New York Times last week. I’d love to hear what you think of it.

Yesterday I wrote to our SPACIOUS subscribers about how SPACIOUS is intended to be an anti-irony movement*. We aim to create channels through which you can experience others with wonder, curiosity and delight, foregoing the sarcasm, skepticism and irony that are almost expected in some circles.

Today what I’m wondering about is whether you agree with Wampole’s argument that we live in a time of irony. Do you find that you hide your sincerity and your true self from others by creating a persona that stays protected from the slings and arrows of earnest interaction? I know I’m tempted to sometimes, but when I’ve resisted being what our culture considers normal (i.e. cool, detached, guarding my heart), I’ve found deeper connections and the risk has been entirely worth it.

Would the world really stop spinning if we said to someone, “I am drawn to you,” or “I’ve noticed you?”

One of the saddest sections in any newspaper is the “I Saw You” or “Missed Connections” column. That’s where people go to try to find — like a needle in a haystack — someone they noticed in public but couldn’t bring themselves to talk to (and now regret it).

“You were wearing a blue hat. You smiled at me. I thought I’d faint. I looked away, so you never knew how I felt. I can’t forget you. Where are you now?” one might read. I made that one up, but you get the idea. The connection was ever so minimal; the loss was ever so great.

Risk it people. You don’t have to start with “Will you marry me?” or “I sense that we’ll be best friends forever.” That sort of instant intimacy is dangerous and forced. But something slightly more appropriate for an initial encounter just might yield a friendship or a connection that makes this ironic, sometimes harsh world a little easier to bear, a little more beautiful.

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2 thoughts on “Living without Irony

  1. I find myself so appreciating this post right now as I think through issues of integrity and authenticity in my presentation of self to others. Though I don’t consciously hide myself from others, I do find myself unconsciously being swept up by social norms.
    One simple example was an interaction I had recently with a cashier at a deli. She seemed so unhappy…to the point that I felt concerned. Though I deeply wanted to connect and break the normal pattern of customer to cashier relations, I found it difficult and ultimately took the easy way out. If I had it to do all over I think I would have done absolutely anything differently to break that pattern and choose connection over possible discomfort or awkwardness.

  2. Thanks, Mary. Yes, isn’t that hard? It’s so rare to take the risk. I’m not sure I’ve ever been sorry when I did, but I have definitely had to tolerate some awkwardness or shame, trusting and praying that the person felt noticed or loved even if they didn’t act like it sometimes. Of course often people made it clear that they appreciated it. To me the main thing is to just do it without regard for how they see me. When I’m too fragile to do that (on any given day), I might be less risky. Thanks for your comment and thanks for reading.

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