Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Irony or Coincidence?

There seems to be a disconnect in the way the average person uses the words irony and coincidence.  Truthfully, the word irony is used more and more to describe quite often what is a mere coincidence.  Is it that people truly do not understand the difference or is it that we are trying to sound much more intelligent that we really are?  The irony is probably that we think we are intelligent and the misuse of the word ironically proves that we have no clue what we are talking about. 

Case and point: the word irony by definition is the incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs whereas, coincidence is a sequence of events that although accidental, seems to have been planned or arranged.  It is a coincidence that you run into the guy you ditched at the bar the night before in your grocery store, but it is ironic that people insist on using the term military intelligence, two seemingly incongruent terms.  The funny thing is that no matter how often it is explained, most still insist on using the word irony to describe a simple coincidence.

The best example is of course is the Alanis Morissette song, “Ironic”. The funny thing about this song is that every example she sings about is more coincidence than irony.  It is the sequence of events that makes them coincidences: the death row pardon a minute too late; rain on your wedding day; ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife, meeting the man of your dreams only to then meet his beautiful wife.  The irony is that she sings about these events being ironic when they are in fact mere coincidences albeit unfortunate ones.  To quote the anonymous blogger at Drag Reduction, “Ms. Morissette gives numerous examples…none of which are ironic. Isn’t that ironic? Yes. Yes it is.”  Couldn't have said it better myself.

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