Brian (annodomini) wrote,

How not to apologize

You know, I've seen a bunch of cases recently in which people have completely and totally failed to apologize, and in fact while in the process of failing to apologize, have managed to dig themselves in deeper. This seems to especially be a problem when someone is called out for making women or minorities feel uncomfortable.

So, just for future reference, some tips for apologizing, and also generally being sensitive to the way other people feel:
  1. Don't blame the victim. "I'm sorry you're upset" or "I'm sorry you're offended" is not an apology. "I'm sorry, I did not mean to offend" may be an apology, but not if you weasel out of it afterwards by saying that what you did was perfectly fine.
  2. Don't dig yourself in deeper. When you respond to someone saying that you're being a sleaze and making women feel uncomfortable, saying "but I love women, and just want to look at their beautiful bodies" does not help.
  3. When being called out for making minorities feel uncomfortable, failing to apologize and then saying "but it's OK because I'm sensitive and like those minorities and want more of them in our community" does not help.
  4. When people are feeling marginalized and speak up about it, it does not help for lots of other random people to pipe up and say "actually, the silent supermajority thinks what you did id A-OK".
  5. Responding to someone who says they feel uncomfortable with whining about being a victim of political correctness does not help make your apology more sincere.
  6. If someone says you made them feel uncomfortable, don't blow them off by saying they "chose to take offense".
  7. People saying that they were offended by what you said or did does not make you a victim of persecution, or mean that anyone has abridged your right to free speech.
  8. When someone is offended by something, it is not helpful to argue about whether they are right to be offended.
  9. If you really, really think that what you said or did is OK, and people felt uncomfortable, hurt, or offended anyhow, then just ignore them or apologize and move on with your life. Learn to live with the fact that you can't please everyone and some people are not going to like you no matter what you say or do. But before doing this, ask yourself if what you did that caused offense is really something that you feel is right and is more important to you than the feelings of the people who are upset, or if you're just using this rule as an excuse for being a jerk.
This is not about just one incident, but a pattern I've seen in some of the flare-ups I've seen online recently. It just really gets me how many people think these non-apologies are a good idea.
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