We live in a cynical age.
You’ve probably noticed it. I don’t know how you could avoid it. It’s everywhere.
It’s in every person who feels jaded by life, by the church or by their jobs.
It’s in every person who’s lost faith in people, in “the system” or in God.
It’s in every one of the myriad of spoof movies that are spewn upon audiences each year.
It’s in every hipster whose wardrobe is made up of the most outdated, mismatched items in the thrift store.
I’ve got plenty of cynicism in me. But I’m working on it. Because I think it might be killing my generation.
The _____ Generation
What word defines my generation?
My grandparents were called the “Great Generation.”
My parents were the Baby Boomer Generation.
But they don’t have a name for us. So they called us “X,” one of the dumbest terms ever coined by sociologists.
I think they should call us the Ironic Generation.
Irony, probably the most important word today in today’s new generation. I love irony, as the dictionary defines it:
irony: to express something other than and especially the opposite of a literal meaning.
But the truly ironic thing is that the word is losing its real meaning. It’s just a word that’s taken the place of “cynicism.”
I know I pick on hipsters a lot. But it’s not without cause. I think many of them embody the worst cynicism that pervades my generation. Take hipster fashion for instance. All of the outdated, mismatched clothes, the mutton chops, non-prescription eyeglasses, and Pabst Blue Ribbon are meticulously crafted for to maximize one desired effect:
Do you laugh at how your parents were dressed in old photos? Then just get some of those clothes from the thrift store and wear them “ironically.” Drink crappy beer “ironically.” Do everything “ironically” while laughing at people who did all those things sincerely.
Hipster 2: “I know, I just like drinking it because it’s so hilariously awful.”
Hipster 1: “Well done, sir. Who in their right mind would actually drink this and think it’s good? Pass me another.”
Hipster 2: “Nice tube top, by the way. It goes great with those tiny basketball shorts.”
That’s not irony. That’s just snark. That’s just trying to draw attention to your cynical assumption that your distinguished and refined tastes are too cool for this planet. The only thing ironic about hipsters is how much sheer, sincere effort they put into being “ironic” and pretending to not give a crap. If hipsters really didn’t give a crap, they’d just go to Kohl’s and buy some Levis and polo shirts like those of us who sincerely don’t care.
I’m tired of your irony, hipsters. You’ve become a parody of yourselves. Now that’s ironic.
A Sincere Generation
Here’s the thing. I think my generation is so caught up in the supposed irony of our whole existence, that we aren’t spending a whole lot of time or effort doing anything sincerely. Everything that a person can sincerely value, someone in my generation is treating like kitsch. Patriotism? Ironic. Religion? Ironic. Gender? Ironic. Love? Ironic…probably.
Making fun of things isn’t productive.
Being ironic doesn’t make the world more beautiful or creative.
Being cynical doesn’t solve problems.
The irony of my generation will be looked at by our grandkids as another stupid, meaningless fad. We need to drop the act and stop calling our cynicism “irony” or “creativity.” If all we leave behind is a pile of irony, parodies, riffs, spoofs and snark then our generation will not be remembered.
If we are so caught up with the absurdity of things, then maybe we should spend half of our “ironic” efforts actually creating things that are sincere…
…Unless we’re just afraid that our sincere efforts will be imitated “ironically” by the next generation.
What do you think? Are you sick of irony, or is it the greatest invention of our time?