Is There Too Much Apologizing Going On?

There’s an interesting phenomenon in the blogospere and in social media. It looks something like this:

“I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while.”

“I’m sorry for posting so often.”

“I apologize for the political post.”

“Sorry for all the book posts.”

And on and on and on.

sorry cat

I noticed the first example in blogs a while ago, and it struck me as odd from the beginning – why is not publishing very often something to be sorry for? We all have busy lives, and to be honest, every time I saw that line, I literally had no idea it had been a while. I might notice if I blogger who had posted daily suddenly stopped, but it would take more than a day or two.

And again, even if I did notice right away, is that something the blogger needs to apologize for?

This article outlines reasons people apologize, including recognizing that an offense occurred that the offender wishes to reconcile (which, in my opinion, is the only reason an apology should happen). But that’s certainly not the only reason people apologize.

It may also be helpful to consider the “spotlight effect,” the psychological sense that others are keeping close note of our failures. In reality, many people are too inwardly focused on themselves to notice or care much about the details you tend to overemphasize in your mind. Putting things in perspective can relax this reflex.

Now, I don’t think the majority of chronic online apologizers are thinking everyone notices every little thing they do. I suspect it’s more a case of what I would call misplaced consideration, like, “Sorry I haven’t been around. It was inconsiderate of me to leave you hanging.” And it might have been, but seriously – who’s put off if you post a day or two later than normal?

excuse-me-2696394_1280

This post discusses how over-apologizing can undermine our professionalism at work, including how it becomes a hedge for an assertive statement and makes us sound less confident. Piggybacking on that, my experience suggests that apologizing for things that don’t require it invites negative attention.

When a genuine case for apologizing happens, it’s because there has been an offense. Someone is upset. When we hear “sorry,” historically, that means there is conflict in the air. It’s unsettling. Apologizing for something that was not offensive (like posting more often than normal) makes the unoffended reader wonder why they were supposed to be offended, and it puts them on the defensive a little bit.

And even if the reader was offended by something (say, the political post, or by something controversial in a book), that might not even warrant an apology. Discomfort doesn’t always equal an apology-worthy offense. Just because someone disagrees doesn’t mean you should be sorry. No author would reply to a negative review with an apology.

Social media presences ebb and flow. Book writers and other business people will promote their stuff. There are controversial things going on in the world that deserve to be discussed by people with varying opinions. None of these cases require an apology (unless, I suppose, the conversation devolves into name calling).

So, if you’re saying “sorry,” make sure it’s warranted. You don’t have to apologize for existing and for being you.

17 thoughts on “Is There Too Much Apologizing Going On?

  1. I’m like you. I don’t always get a chance to read every post of the blogs I follow, even when I really, really, like the author. If they hadn’t mentioned they’d been away, I probably wouldn’t have noticed and just assumed I was still the inconsistent one, not them.

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  2. Hi Allison. Very interesting point you make here. I too have apologised on my blog for not posting more often but then realised that nobody really cares how often I post except me. Once I remembered that my little blog is in fact just a virtual notebook which allows me to feed my desire to write then I quickly overcame the ‘sorry’ bug. Blogging can bring about many feelings, guilt should not be one of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When your writing is critiqued regularly in a group situation there can be disagreements from others. Some are valid comments, others are motivated from particular standpoints but you need not to be personally affected by the fact that heck, some people do not like the way you write, what you write about, or both. The sorry phase might be before a writer has grown that rhinoceros hide. Also that stream of consciousness that can be how a blogger, blogs would interrupt the dare I say poetic utterances of the blog! Sorry is just not in the equation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry is a HUGE issue for those with chronic disease… HUGE. We have already not been able to please our loved ones by getting better, our bosses by being on time, completing tasks on time… So you will get a few ‘sorry’s’ from people who have been so beaten down that is their only refuge is to say, “sorry” before you see them as another disappointment.

    Just something to think about… ~Kim

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I sometimes think some of these apologies are really calls for attention.
    “Sorry I’ve been gone so long, it’s just that something catastrophic happened in my personal life.” which leads to everyone giving their condolences, asking what happened, outpouring of love.
    It’s a lot of pay attention to me, tell me I matter, tell me you love me.
    sorry, not sorry? LOL

    Liked by 2 people

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