That wouldn’t be ironic.

August 8, 2009

DO you remember when Alanis Morissette released a certain single in the mid 90’s how suddenly everything was ‘ironic’? People would incorrectly use it to describe things that they found unpleasant, things that disappointed them and events unexpected. Eventually radio played the song to death and it slowly tumbled its way out of the charts. The usage of ironic slowly disappeared from the popular lexicon to be replaced with the vapid “It’s the 90’s!” That fucking catchphrase was used to justify anything that people did both good and bad. From cheating on your spouse to your love for leather clad midgets in gimp masks, it was okay because it was the 90s! It to waned in popularity along with the dime-a-dozen talk shows where guests and audience members chanted it like a mantra.

A little over a year ago I noticed a marked increase in the use of the word ‘random’. Initially it was used correctly to describe things “having no specific pattern, purpose, or objective.” I found it curious that people were using this particular adjective so much as it suggested that a lot of people were becoming conscious of the chaos that occurred in everyday life. What was the reason for this sudden awakening? Maybe the start of the current economic malaise? Or am I going way to deep and it was just another meme; like a Rick Astley or Journey song?

As time progressed, random has became like ironic before it, used incorrectly to describe things that are ‘weird’, unique, unpleasant and unknown and also as an awkward substitution where it makes sense logically but sounds unnatural. A query of random on Twitter returned the following results that serve as great examples of awkward overuse and nonsense:

“lol the best parties imo have the most random collection of people”

“i don’t listen to all oldies music. My music taste is rly random but I like it.”

In both messages above, it’s pretty obvious that the writers are substituting random for eclectic. This one might be Apple’s fault confusing people because when they selecting shuffle on an iPod it is akin to randomizing your play list.

“LOL I know Im random like that because costco is my freaking hero.”

“Joe Jonas is Leo, just like me..(Ha,im random.”

“I am pretty random.”

Random uses of nonsense. The first woman’s profile leads me to think that she’s married with children. To be that, shall we say, ‘seasoned’ and sound so retarded is pathetic. What type of Frag-lish will her kids speak? They’ll have conversations with each other that sound like Cocteau Twins songs. The second and third are similar in there complete lack of meaning. Is the girl in the second Tweet saying that she’s ‘unique’ or ‘cool’? Let me clue you in on something sister, if you are in your mid-twenties as your profile seems to suggest, pining for a Jonas brother makes you neither. It’s just wack like those faded unicorn posters that are undoubtedly taped to the basement wall in her parents’ house where you lay your head in-between shifts of partying and working at the local GetGo.

“Don’t you just love the random text message from a total stranger?”

I think you’ve got the idea.

Have I become a cranky old codger? That old, sad man hunched over the end of the bar leering at the hip happening kids and their new fangled slang? Hell no! I love it; probably more than a suburban basement kid, speaking with friends in what sound like tongues to his out of touch, voyeur parents. I can see myself as an 80 year old excited by some new networked device, describing it to my wife as dope; telling the grandkids to not be ill to each other and teasing them with gwap.

It has been evident for some time that the Newspeak that Orwell developed as a fiction device was becoming a reality; just listen to any political speech from the Regan era on. Both Dumbya before and Obama now are masters of it. Who can forget the presidential debates where nothing was said? No, this is different. It is not an expansion of the language but is instead a contraction where words become meaningless.

Hopefully it’s just a trend. That wouldn’t be ironic.


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