Do You Wish Everyone Was Sincere All the Time?

Sometimes we find it wearisome that everybody is so ironic. We feel like saying — stop saying everything in quotes. Don’t say ” ” Doctor Who is such a great show” “. Just say it was a great show, or don’t. We wish, on other words, for a world in which all communication was sincere.

Be careful what you wish for. Tigers eating you are perfectly sincere. So are tapeworms eating you from the inside. So, in a certain way of thinking about it, are liars. A tiger pretending to be a bunch of grass in order to pounce and eat you is sincere. He is just tricking you. In a sense even the internal voices within us that stifle our lives through repeating various half-truths that others would like us to believe are sincere. Coca Cola sincerely wants you to think its product “adds life” even though, in reality, it makes their stockholders money by killing you.

Irony is the weapon against deadly sincerity, the kind that kills us outright, and the kind that burrows into our minds and eats us up from within. There are at least three musical instruments playing all the time in contemporary culture — irony, fake sincerity (bullshit), and prosaic speech.

When we want a world free of irony we have to be careful that we also want a world free of irony’s duelling and dancing partner — sincerity that is setting out to devour us.

Would we wish for a world in which no one was ironic, because nobody was trying to hurt us with their sincerity, and we didn’t have to defend ourselves ever, because everybody loved us perfectly all the time.

Sure. Who wouldn’t want that?


7 thoughts on “Do You Wish Everyone Was Sincere All the Time?

  1. The law seems to consider irony as not a particularly valid method of communication. I’ve watched The Wire, so I guess I know a thing or two about how stuff works and in my experience people in court rooms rarely make jokes as a way of establishing what they mean. It’s all very earnest or sometimes even sombre.

    There’s a scene in My Cousin Vinny (I’ve also seen that) where the main dude in it (Vinny’s cousin) who thinks he is being interrogated by the police for shoplifting a tin of tuna realises that he’s actually being interrogated for murder. He says “I shot the clerk? I shot the clerk?” The policeman later quotes him without the emphasis in court, making him look a bit guilty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEqd-RVIz5g

    Maybe that doesn’t really show anything about irony because he’s not being ironic. Or maybe it doesn’t because it’s a comedy film. What about this though: you constantly have to sign legal waivers, contracts and consent forms if you want to use the internet (or have a job). Why are they all so humourless? If they were amusing, people might actually read them and that should be a responsibility of the authors. I presume it’s because everyone thinks the law is too earnest for humour.

    Unless you’re a Supreme Court judge, when you’re allowed a little bit: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2335613

  2. I don’t think being ironic (which sounds more like sarcasm than irony) is the thing that’s stopping them from pouncing on me and if they were to be sincere they would then pounce on me.

    It just seems a strange justification for ‘Don’t talk about X or they’ll kill us’

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