Some days, you can’t help but believe in the idea that irony is a living, breathing, cosmic force with a very unusual sense of humor and a personal interest in your life. And if you’re one of the rare people who don’t believe in things like irony or fate, don’t worry, we’re pretty sure that they believe in you.
Bored Panda’s collected some of the finest, most iconic (some might even go as far as to say ‘epic’) ironic moments in the recent history of the internet. So get ready to have a good chuckle as you scroll down. Drop us a comment somewhere below explaining which moments you thought were particularly ironic. And remember to upvote your favorite pics, as well as share the post with your amigos who might be in need of some cheering up. Scroll down for Bored Panda’s informative interview with Albert Katz, Professor Emeritus from Western University, who went into detail about irony, its types, uses, as well as how we process it.
There were a couple of moments with unexpectedly delicious ironic twists that stuck in our heads. The first one was how an empty Nigerian apartment was discovered to hold 43 million dollars (shame on us thinking that every single one of those spam emails from supposed princes was from scammers!). While the second one was how publications like Cosmopolitan can support radically different points of view in different articles.
Bored Panda interviewed Albert Katz, Professor Emeritus of Cognitive, Developmental, and Brain Sciences from Western University’s Department of Psychology. The professor went into detail about the topic of irony.
“In my studies I have found that university-level students have a pretty clear notion of sarcasm, but are actually quite vague about irony,” the professor said. According to him, there are several types of irony, such as the irony of fate in literature. An example of that would be Oedipus unknowingly killing his father and marrying mother.
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Most of us instinctively understand when a situation is ironic. However, it’s far more difficult to explain what exactly irony is using words. Throughout history, there have been hundreds of suggestions on how best to define it. And some of us might even have our own private definitions of what irony is.
The most basic definition of irony will include that it’s a contradiction between what’s expected and what actually happens in real life. When you put it like that, you come to realize that irony really is all about expectations being shattered in a humorous way.
Professor Katz said: “There are several components that usually go into irony, and turning irony into sarcasm. Basically, a central motif is the violation of an expectation. But the context in which that violation occurs may make it humorous or not, or sarcastic or not.”
A thing that a lot of us mix up is verbal irony and sarcasm. Though they’re usually used interchangeably, they’re not the same.
One way to remember the difference is this: sarcasm is primarily used to insult someone or cause them harm. If it hurts your feelings, it’s most likely sarcasm, not irony. Now that’s a piece of trivia that you can really wow your friends with.
Katz agreed with the idea that sarcasm has “a negative usage” when compared to “verbal irony, such as how we use it in everyday speech.”
“One can think of irony used sarcastically (e.g. when saying something framed positively, but intending a negative insulting meaning: when one says “you’re my best friend” just after said friend did something mean). But one can also get irony used in the opposite way, such as saying something that on the surface sounds nasty, but is meant positively (e.g. “You're sooo bad”).”
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“The question of how easy it is to understand or get the point of irony, or sarcasm, is a difficult one," the professor noted. "People differ both in the habitual usage of irony or sarcasm and when dealing with a person who often uses sarcasm, for instance, people sometimes erroneously interpret an ambiguous comment not intended ironically as being ironic, or sarcastic.”
“Also there is research that indicates individual differences in using and understanding irony in general,” Katz explained. “Some people are very literal thinkers and miss the irony presented. Some of my own work indicates that the processing of irony occurs almost immediately during comprehension. One doesn't think about it and at some later point think, oh, was he being ironic when he said X.”
“One thing I do believe is that the processing of irony, or sarcasm, is not based on any one factor, such as a failed expectation, but on a set of computations going on simultaneously,” the professor added.