Ironoia, according to Ian Bogost, is a modern disease that prevents us from taking anything seriously. It also prevents us from taking responsibility for the things we do and speak about.

By mocking, ridiculing, or generally putting a layer of irony on top of almost anything, ironoia has grown to become the self-distancing method of choice for many. Just fire up Twitter and you’ll get an immediate sense of what I mean. But it’s not only a social media phenomenon. We all have that hilarious friend that somehow finds a way to make fun of anything. And maybe, at times, we can even observe ourselves finding joy in firing up an ironic comment on one thing or another.

That layer of irony is often a great way of hiding. When we don’t feel quite comfortable to openly commit to a stance, it’s easy to stick to ironic – and leave it to our audience to figure out whether we actually mean it.

Irony, of course, is also a great way of making an audience think deeper. Of having their laugh stop mid-sentence to review their views from an unexpected contrarian perspective. But like any good drug that widens your perspective, irony, when overdosed, makes you loose sight of reality. Loose connection. Loose ground. When you use irony to hide rather than highlight, it’s a good sign of overdose.

Use it to highlight, not to hide.

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Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz


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