And in 1995, she wrote a song called 'Ironic'
The word ‘ironic’ means something has happened in the exact opposite way than what is expected. Things that are ironic are, say, a fire station being burnt to the ground, or a Nazi war criminal discovering the joys of kosher food, or Simon Cowell financing an experimental music project with Patti Smith. These things are ironic because it’s the opposite of what you would expect, this is not the same thing as when something happens that is just inconvenient or crappy.
This is different to when something happens that sucks a bit. Take, for example, every single line of Alanis Morissette’s 1995 song, ‘Ironic’.
Morissette sings that irony is ‘like rain on your wedding day’ or ‘it’s a free ride, once you’ve already paid’ or ‘it’s the good advice that you just didn’t take’ These things are not in any way ironic – they just suck, or were caused by the individual’s own stupidity.
The Jon Stewart Show once aired a clip of George Bush from back in 2000, having a discussion with a woman about baloney sandwiches. For some reason that isn’t entirely clear, they are talking about the fact that Bush says he eats baloney sandwiches everyday. When the woman asks him ‘don’t you find that ironic? Bush guffaws, then responds to the woman ‘I find you ironic!’ then smirks at his own joke and shoves the rest of the baloney sandwich that he was eating at the time into his mouth.
Clearly from this comment, we see that George Bush thinks that the word ‘ironic’ is a sort of insult, to be used along the same lines of ‘you suck!’ or ‘your mother!’.
The same goes for the use of the word ‘literally.’ The definition of ‘literally’ is when something actually happened. For example, you can’t say ‘I literally fell of my chair laughing’, unless you actually did do this. You can’t say ‘I’m literally roasting’ to describe heat exhaustion, unless you are being attacked with a flame-thrower. You can’t say ‘I was literally crawling up the walls’ unless you are actually Spiderman.
A great example of this kind of language misuse is the manufacturer of a toy called ‘Timmy the Energy Bear’ which comes with the description ‘Timmy is a delightful cuddly, soft toy who is literally alive!’
On the up-side, these kind of slip-ups can be funny, and good for a lol or two. The only time it starts to get uncomfortable is when that particular person happened to be the leader of western world for eight years.