Welcome To The Internet Where Your Apology Is Never Accepted

Vivien Liu
Vivien Liu

The cycle of internet outrage culture usually goes something like this: Someone will find something they perceive to be offensive. Sometimes it will truly be offensive. Sometimes it will be very, very offensive. Sometimes it will be problematic but totally blown out of proportion.

But people will react. Being angry feels good. We feel powerful when we are angry. We feel strong when we can furiously tweet at some brand or personality. We are taking back control from a world that can oftentimes be unfair, rude, and downright oppressive. We are in control. We can say that’ll we’ll never shop somewhere again, or that we’ll share something negative about something, or that we will help bring about someone’s downfall. Our words can become crueler still. We can wish unemployment, misery or death on someone. We can express glee at someone’s misfortune. Bad behavior has given us the power to call out the truth in the cruelest, starkest terms. Anybody who disagrees with our method is just “a part of the problem.”

People will send those angry tweets, they will make indignant Facebook comments, they will discover their “!” key on their keyboard as if for the first time. They will pound their fingers and gnash their teeth. They will become #Activists who have a prescription for the black-and-white problems of our world.

And people will bring up legitimate points. After all, they might be right. Usually, they are right to one degree or another. But the indignation soon rises above just being right or wrong. The righteous fury consumes any desire for a proportional response, the passionate ire has demonized their target into a subhuman form — as an entity of pure evil. There is no response that can excuse it. There is no apologizing, nothing can ever, ever be enough.

Because then the brand or company or individual will realize they fucked up. They will read over the arguments, and realize they didn’t cross all the t’s, or did something truly insensitive. They will realize they need to do better. They will realize they need to own their mistake. They will realize they need to say sorry.

And so they will apologize.

Facebook
Facebook

They will say sorry.

The person or entity apologizing didn’t mean it, they can’t have because in the world of righteous indignation nobody is ever truly sorry and no apology is ever enough.

Facebook
Facebook

It’s always a fake apology. If they were really sorry, why didn’t ‘Person X’ get fired? Why didn’t his boss get fired? Why didn’t their boss get fired?? I want the whole division fired. Anything else, well, you’re just playing PR.

https://twitter.com/chesterlockhart/status/772196770801553408

This post is not a defense of brands / people who do bad things.

This post is not a defense of brands / people who do bad things.

People do bad things. They should be called out. People should take responsibility, they should learn, they should grow. Sometimes they should be fired. People should be held to high standards, and should be told when they don’t live up to them — brands and companies even more so.

But why in this digital age is redemption not possible? Why in this digital age must everyone die upon their crosses, and not carry them? Why can we so often not accept an apology, and why is the suggestion that outrage culture is shredding our empathy met only with accusations of victim-blaming and vitriol?

And so then, slowly, the scandal dies. People go back to their day-to-day lives. The only memory of the names and brands that they lambasted in is in their tweet history. We forget, nothing changes, and something new feeds the fire of our fury. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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