About a month ago I was scrolling through the Instagram feed of one of my favorite bloggers, Gala Darling, and saw this photo of a New York Times editorial, How to Live Without Irony by Christy Wampole, Assistant Professor of French and Italian at Princeton University.
Christy leads off with, “If irony is the ethos of our age — and it is — then the hipster is our archetype of ironic living.”
I live in Seattle, and not too far from Portland. You might think I’d find myself surrounded by people who treat living itself as blasé. But while I’m friends with plenty of people who like to take photographs of their feet, they’re not shoulder shrugging, unenthused, or ungrateful. If anything, I’m starting to see more and more people be willing to open up and be vulnerable and not rely on their facial hair to define them.
Maybe that’s because of the kind of people I choose to share my life with. I don’t have time for haters. I unfollow people on Twitter if they’re overly sarcastic or negative. Not that I don’t appreciate sharp wit and occasional sarcasm, but I have my limits.
Maybe it’s because I’m older. I’m not a 25 year-old indie record store employee. I have my own problems with “the man,” but it’s more about our country being less than Scandanavia in terms of quality of life, healthcare, gun control, and maternity leave.
Maybe it’s because lack of authenticity bores the hell out of me. I hate small talk. I hate mindless ranting. I want to spend time with real people talking about how they feel about real things.
“Irony is the most self-defensive mode, as it allows a person to dodge responsibility for his or her choices, aesthetic and otherwise. To live ironically is to hide in public.”
It seems like the time for distancing ourselves is over. I’m not saying we should avoid buying t-shirts with funny slogans or giving a Silence of the Lambs as Golden Book print as a birthday gift to certain people. I’m not even saying that we have to talk about real stuff all the time. I’m saying that we need to embrace our emotions and own how we feel. Love what we love because we love it, fight for something we believe in because it’s important to us, and know that it’s okay to be impressed or excited.
We need to reclaim our childlike sense of wonder.
Having a two-year-old and a husband who appreciates and points out beauty in the world around him has changed the way I experience life. But I think it’s harder for people who don’t have this constant, living, breathing push to stop and take it all in. To really feel something.
2013 is right around the corner. I’d like to challenge you to think about what you can do next year to “feel” more. Maybe act on some of the positive feelings that you usually keep to yourself. Tell someone how much they mean to you. Embrace what it means to be passionate about something. Shout it out from the rooftops, or at least tell your co-workers.
We all have a limited amount of time in this world. There’s no sense wasting it with indifference or hiding behind a mask of cynicism.