Isn’t It Ironic?

One of the memorable sequences from the movie Reality Bites was when the main character, played by Winona Ryder, is asked to define irony. Stymied, she finally blurts, “I know it when I see it!”

A few years later, Alanis Morrissette would have a hit with “The Ironic Song”, though many people commented correctly that some of her examples weren’t ironic, they just sucked. says “The essential feature of irony is the indirect presentation of a contradiction between an action or expression and the context in which it occurs.” Wikipedia quotes the American Heritage Dictionary that irony is not “unfortunate coincidences or surprising disappointments that ’suggest no particular lessons about human vanity or folly.’”

This all leaves me wondering. Last week I commented to a friend that I was feeling ground down by the ongoing viruses in the family, as well as the menial childcare tasks like changing poopy diapers. A few days later, Baby Guppy had to go to the emergency room, and was prescribed an antibiotic that caused diarrhea. As I wrote earlier, it likely was a virus, so the antibiotic was probably not necessary.

So which, if any, of these is ironic? I think the new virus and increase in soiled diapers are ironic; I learned that I didn’t have things so bad beforehand. The probably-useless antibiotic, though? I think that one likely just sucks.

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