Monday, February 14, 2011

Ironic Confrontation

Here is a handy hint; people tend to get less annoyed than they should when I ask them: “Are you being ironic?”. Just the other day someone was pontificating to me on the virtues of Glen Beck's insight into some sublime cog in a great socialist conspiracy our elected officials are assembling. I asked: “Are you being ironic?”. The pontificator paused and thought about potential irony for a few seconds.

Trying to calmly say: “Is there more room for fecal material in your argument or are you already full to bursting?” does not work well.

I discovered the ironic statement almost by accident. Someone had decided I needed to be confronted about what they apparently saw as “my overly confrontational nature”. I have often thought that I should actually be more confrontational than I am, but this is not -apparently- a universally held belief.

I do not entirely avoid confrontation. Last Wednesday I was privileged to see Gang of Four in concert at the 9:30 club in Washington DC. It was a wonderful performance by a inspirational band, but the sound levels were awful. Some songs lost half their vocals do to poor soundboard control. During some songs I could see the band furiously playing (We had a great view) yet producing almost no sound. The singer did go from mike to mike, but a good sound engineer should have been able to respond. The experience was significantly lessened by the poor skill of the soundboard monkey. We decided to complain, and marched right up to the sound-booth after the show to complain. By “Marched right up to the sound-booth to complain” I mean that I walked up behind someone who respectfully informed the soundboard operator that his performance was sub-par, and then slunk away after receiving some lame excuse like: “that's the way the band wanted it”.

It was difficult to take the confrontational confrontation very seriously. I thought there was a certain irony in their statement, and so it was natural to ask about it. Embellishments that might make the question more barbed like: “Are you trying to be ironic or are you just stupid?” would probably detract from the overall impact of the ironic question.

I think the best way to deliver the question is with a slight twinkle in the eye and a knowing smile. I think it would work best if I give the passing nod to a potential shared joke. Other questions might be delivered in the same way.

I wonder what casual use of the question: “Is that a euphemism?” might yield in conversational effect.


Sarah said...

A while back in a moment of vigorous discussion, Andrew countered with: "I am NOT arguementative!"
A good line that still draws a chuckle around these parts.

adult onset atheist said...

I can picture that, and it brings a chuckle in these parts as well.

I found a little prayer from Kent Clifford Cooley of “Love Walk Connection”. It is actually significantly larger than the section I quote here. The rest of it goes on about how one needs to believe in jesus like the speaker or they are WRONG, but it begins with “I am not argumentative”. It is so good that Kent clears that up to start with as it becomes less clear as he goes on.

“I am not argumentative or confrontational. I am gentle and considerate. I am not quarrelsome but I am peaceful. I am not insistent that I am always right. I am developing a willingness to reason with others. I am learning not to force my opinion on others. I am not afraid of disapproval. I do not operate in fear. Being considerate promotes peace and I am a peacemaker. I do not violate the law of love.”

Anonymous said...

I very much enjoyed this post. Thanks for your thoughts.