Analysis reveals that toxic ideas online are rapidly spreading and gaining momentum through the clever use of irony.

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The impact of irony on the spread of toxic ideas online has been revealed in a new analysis, showcasing its role in contemporary politics and radical online communities. According to researchers, irony helps individuals navigate political and economic changes, while also playing a significant role in mobilizing people and instilling conviction. By examining the use of irony, the study sheds light on influential political campaigns, such as Brexit, and their ability to unite individuals from diverse backgrounds and ideologies. Overall, irony generates intensity, transforms beliefs into convictions, and compels action.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers from University College London, the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, the University of Exeter, the University of St. Andrews, the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, the University of Amsterdam, and the Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences of Athens. They examined the use of irony across different groups, including Black American abolitionist literature, contemporary BlackLivesMatter activism in Ghana, the alt-right, the Greek socialist party PASOK, and the Boogaloo Bois, a group known for their affinity for guns and millenarian beliefs.

Dr. Susannah Crockford from the University of Exeter highlighted that irony provides individuals with a means to critique the current political and economic restructuring, navigate uncertainty, and envision future possibilities. Irony offers a way for political collectives to gather and orient themselves in a common direction, even when clear-cut convictions are absent.

Dr. Farhan Samanani added that irony allows individuals to make sense of a contradictory and complex world by exploring incongruities between text and subtext or between different points of view. It serves as a powerful tool in online communities, fostering participation and innovation in language use.

The findings of this research can be found in the journal Public Culture.

More information:
Farhan Samanani et al, Animating Irony, Public Culture (2023). DOI: 10.1215/08992363-10575859

Provided by University of Exeter


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Toxic ideas online are spreading and growing through the use of irony, analysis shows (2023, June 26)
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