Irony Improving Us as a Nation

            The attacks on September 11, 2001 sent the nation into a whirlwind of fright and despair.  Both tears and anger filled the population, everyone in a cloud of confusion.  We, as a nation, continually waited for the next bad thing to happen, waiting for the “other shoe to drop”.  People lived in hesitation; worried that something said or done could either send the nation into another chaotic episode or just simply remind us of that devastating day.  Yet, as we progress forward farther from this infamous day, people are beginning to breathe a little easier.  While irony appeared to have disappeared from our way of life for quite some time after the destruction of the Twin Towers, today we look to irony as a coping mechanism.  With the use of irony in our everyday lives, we are able to move on as a nation by accepting the past and looking to the future.

            After September 11th, people believed irony to be gone.  There was a “general shift in tone described by many commentators as the ‘death’ of irony, in favor of a return to depth and sincerity”.[1]  The tiptoeing around by everyone made the event much more delicate.   This made the population more nervous about the effects of anything said or done outside of commemorating and mourning the lives of those we lost.  The fragility of our nation seemed to distance each individual, keeping everyone on edge and worried of any signs of any hatred from other countries or group of people.

However, although irony appeared to have disappeared for a while following the terrorist attacks, it is now a useful tool to move forward from such a setback.  Today, we use irony as a way of coping with anything that upsets our normal lives.  This usually joking, lighthearted manner demonstrates that we are strong as a whole and can move past obstacles, no matter how devastating they can be.  Susan O’Brien’s article explains the presence of food in our lives post-September 11th and how that shows our strength.  With excessive advertisements throughout pieces of writing that also acknowledge and grieve the time of the attacks, we demonstrate our power as a nation.  “Irony and ecology both offer ways of challenging an uncritical acceptance of the inherent superiority of Western culture and the economic system that sustains it.”[2]  The United States experienced an extreme hardship in its history, yet we showed to the world our ability to bounce back by using tactics such as irony.

When the Twin Towers collapsed, Americans were sent into a state of panic, questioning the authority in their nation and the possibility of other acts against the United States in the future.  However, as the nation has cultivated and passed its tenth anniversary after the attack, we have grown together much more strongly than we were before.  Our ability to use irony in our lives now demonstrates that we have improved and are moving forward every day.


[1] O’Brien, Susan. “On death and donuts: irony and ecology after September 11.” Cultural Critique. 58 (2004): 148. Print.

[2] O’Brien, Susan. “On death and donuts: irony and ecology after September 11.” Cultural Critique. 58 (2004): 149. Print.

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