Irony Discourse on YouTube

YouTube has a minor subculture which focuses on analysing memecultures using a framework based on layers of irony. @Jreg is at the centre of this subculture and has dubbed it "the Ironysphere" so I will go with that, but I don't know if the term is used by anyone else.

History of the Ironysphere

I developed a framework for studying ironic memes in 2015 that focused on systematising the "layers of irony" and the dynamics between them. The diagram became a meme and has spread a lot over the years into different memecultures as well as being used by academics. Over the past two years, it has been a part of a trend within the cybercultural analysis subculture on YouTube, owing primarily to JREG's 2020 video on the concept of higher ironies and post-truth satire:

A year later, oliSUNvia posted a video titled "what makes gen z humor so interesting?" which built on top of JREG's video and some more theories I developed with Masha Zharova:

Mainstreaming of the Ironysphere's Irony Discourse

In early 2022, iDubbz posted a video titled "Getting Away With It", a documentary about Sam Hyde, which was the topic of controversy due to a meta-documentary titled "The Truth About iDubbz" released by Hyde (a month prior iDubbz' own documentary about Hyde):

In the documentary (43:53-48:18), iDubbz provided his own theory of irony, metairony and postirony that seemed to stem from the existing discourse around the subject matter on YouTube. His model of irony is circular, and metairony follows from postirony.

JREG posted a reaction video to iDubbz's documentary:


Aftermath and Other Info

That's the state of things as of about three months ago, aside from a few more videos on the subject matter from several YouTubers (many of them solely focus on the iDubbz-Hyde drama). One of the consequences of the latest in this particular discourse is that some people started worrying whether metairony is dangerous and a threat to communication and relationships online. Already, the sensational hype around it has died down, but the framework itself has become well ingrained within the mainstream psyche.

  • There's also a YouTube playlist on the topic by JREG.
  • A video using Aesop to explain metairony, recommended by JREG.
  • 2019 video of robots reading the postirony VS metairony meme.
  • There were two Twitch streams I did with JREG but it looks like they've been taken down.
  • I've been corresponding with @Jreg and @kloy (YouTube channel) since and working on a collaborative project.
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