Irony Deficit

Recent surveys show that the
appreciation of irony has fallen
sharply in Britain over the
last decade

The older age groups, in particular, show a disturbing trend towards taking everything literally, and adults as old as ninety could not distinguish between irony, sarcasm, and cynicism. Researchers have blamed overexposure to television as a primary cause of this deficit in ironic sensibility. Teenagers questioned in one survey complained that older people often seemed “stupid” and unable to grasp conversational subtleties.

Senior researcher Bill Toulast remarked that the lack of anything beyond superficial stereotype and conventional piety, in the mass media, contributes to an atrophying of the neocortex in most of the population. A politician commented: “This is very worrying. We will consider making practical irony a mandatory part of the school curriculum, alongside competitive sports.”