Picture this: your friend and you are watching a sitcom, and a sassy sidekick walks into a room, carrying a four-tiered wedding cake.
He trips, falls, and face-plants into the cake.
Your friend doubles over with laughter and says, "It's so ridiculous! So ironic!"
Well, quick, what do you do?
Do you laugh along with the laugh track and let this grievous misinterpretation of irony go?
Or, do you throw caution to the wind and explain the true meaning of irony?
If you're me, you choose the latter.
Unfortunately, irony has been completely misunderstood.
We tend to throw out that term
whenever we see something funny or coincidental.
And while many examples of true irony can be funny,
that is not the driving factor of being ironic.
A situation is only ironic if what happens
is the exact opposite of what was expected.
If you expect A, but get B,
then you have irony.
Let's take the slap-stick cake situation as an example.
When someone walks in precariously balancing something
that shouldn't be carried alone,
trips, falls, and makes a mess,
it is funny, but it's not ironic.
In fact, you probably expect someone
who is single-handedly carrying a huge cake to trip.
When he does, reality align with expectations, and so that is not irony.
But what if the sassy sidekick walked in wearing a gold medal that he'd won at the cake walking event at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996?
What if that sidekick was a professional cake carrier?
Then, maybe there would have been a reasonable expectation that he would have been more skilled when carrying a ridiculously large cake.
Then, when that reasonable expectation was not met by the tripping sidekick, irony would have been exemplified.
A senior citizen texting and blogging.
The common and reasonable expectation of more mature men and women is that they don't like or know technology, that they have a hard time turning on a computer, or that they have the old brick cell phones from the 1980s.
One should not expect them to be connected, high-tech, or savvy enough to text or to be blogging, which must seem like some sort of newfangled thing that "back in my day," they never had.
So when Granny pulls out her smart phone to post pictures of her dentures or her grandkids, irony ensues.
Reasonable expectations of the situation are not met.
That is irony.
So while the cake dropper might not be ironic, there are all kinds of situations in life that are.