Newswise — New analysis indicates that irony has emerged as a platform for the dissemination of toxic ideas in the online realm.

Researchers have noted that the utilization of irony is on the rise in contemporary politics and radical online communities, as it assists individuals in comprehending and navigating significant political and economic transformations.

As new social movements gain momentum, ideas, jokes, memes, and images have emerged as influential catalysts, becoming deeply intertwined with the ascent of the alt-right.

According to the study, delving into irony can provide valuable insights into the cohesion of influential political alliances like the Brexit campaign, even when participants come from diverse backgrounds or hold differing ideologies. The study suggests that irony serves as a key factor in mobilizing political movements by compelling individuals to embrace emergent, ambiguous, conflicting, and contentious ideas. It holds the power to rally people and encourage their commitment to such ideas.

The phenomenon of irony generates a profound intensity and energy that significantly influences people's beliefs. It has the capacity to elevate beliefs from mere propositions to unwavering convictions, imbuing them with a profound sense of potential and compelling individuals to take action.

The research was conducted by a team comprising Farhan Samanani from University College London and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Susannah Crockford from the University of Exeter, Daniel M. Knight from the University of St. Andrews, Craig Stensrud from the University of British Columbia, Girish Daswani from the University of Toronto, Marc Tuters from the University of Amsterdam, and visual artist Io Chaviara from the Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences of Athens.

The research team explored the utilization of irony within diverse groups, encompassing areas such as Black American abolitionist literature, contemporary Black Lives Matter activism in Ghana, the alt-right movement, the reverence for the Greek socialist party PASOK, and the gun-enthusiastic and millenarian Boogaloo Bois.

Dr. Crockford remarked, "Irony empowers individuals to scrutinize the debilitating political and economic transformations occurring in their societies, helping them navigate an ambiguous present and realign their perspectives towards the future."

"The contemporary landscape of economic governance, persistent inequality, increasing social complexity, and the erosion of established political certainties has made it increasingly challenging to envision realistic future scenarios and trace the cause and effect of political actions," explains the study.

Campaigners, activists, and political leaders are facing mounting challenges in comprehending effective strategies for action and envisioning avenues of social transformation that do not necessitate complete upheaval, highlights the study.

Amidst existential uncertainty, irony can enable individuals to confront political problems and advocate for a cause, even when the exact nature of that cause may not be explicitly defined. In this manner, irony also serves as a mechanism for uniting political collectives and aligning them towards a shared purpose.

"Irony also possesses the potential to assemble nascent collectives, directed not towards definitive convictions, but towards provisional certainties that provide speculative pathways in a tumultuous world," the study highlights.

According to Dr. Samanani, "Through the manipulation of incongruity between text and subtext, or different perspectives, irony offers fresh avenues for constructing meaning and navigating a world filled with complexity and contradictions. Irony has the ability to evoke a wide range of emotions, from laughter to disorientation, and foster a sense of camaraderie that arises from being part of an inside joke, particularly within political movements that have gained substantial momentum online."

"Engaging in such communities does not necessitate a rigid adherence to any particular ideology. The exhilarating enjoyment of participation stems from being a part of a dynamic linguistic community that constantly evolves through the introduction of new vernacular expressions," elucidates the study.

"Gaining an understanding of the political dynamics of irony allows us to delve deeper into the nature of political movements that appear to be characterized by well-defined ideologies. Beliefs that are often articulated through logical arguments or expressed in terms of straightforward values can, nevertheless, find their foundation and vitality in more ironic expressions," explains the study.

Journal Link: Public Culture