Writing | Literature

People Don’t Understand What Irony Actually Is

A minor literary rant.

Sean Kernan
5 min readSep 21, 2022

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I’ll give you an example.

I went to the beach with a good friend here in Florida.

He’s this naturally jacked dude, with bizarre genetics that make him look like a bodybuilder after doing three pushups. He also has pale skin and burns as easily as an Irish Albino.

He put on 80-proof sunscreen several times, trying his best to avoid exposure. At one point, he looked like he was encased in some type of white clay. People were giving him strange stares.

Yet despite caking himself in sunscreen, he was still burnt to a crisp in the end. He said, “Wow. After all that, I’m still burned. That’s ironic.”

I love the guy — but it wasn’t ironic.

It was unfortunate.

There are a lot of repeat offenders on the subject. Everything that happens is ironic.

In 2010, Dictionary.com said that “irony” was the most misused term in the English language.

I’m not entirely sure why the misuse bothers me. I will say that life as a writer makes you more nitpicky. You start to understand why English teachers are so type-A and pedantic.

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Sean Kernan

Writer and writing instructor. Always on the hunt for a good story. That guy from Quora. Writing out of Tampa, Florida.