“I’m sorry.” – Pity and Its Use as a Social Construct


       I hate saying “I’m sorry”.  I simply don’t think has a point.  Now, I don’t mean it in the sense that something was my fault, or the dismissive “I’m sorry that you feel that way”, but rather that slightly pitying way that we all know oh so well.   I cannot stand saying it, and having it said to me.  Now, that’s not to say I never do (because I do…) but rather that I dislike it being considered the go-to phrase to express concern for another. “Sorry” implies fault, thus subconsciously bringing the subject back to you.  Oftentimes the one in misfortune apologies, consoles, or thanks the apologizer. Not always, but often.  It’s like you’re saying that you had something to do with their misfortune – at least this is how I usually see it.

Unfortunately, it’s a social construct that we all fall into at times. In order to avoid long explanations, or hurt someone by not saying the required “I’m sorry”…even if we don’t really think we should.  And even for those who pride themselves on being enlightened and beyond the influence of society, still fall into its trappings to avoid superfluous interactions or desire to put real effort in conversation. Much like giving false appreciation for a gift or complimenting someone’s child when you really believe otherwise, apologizing makes you feel better.  They are all part of this great need to flatter others in order to make us appear like better people.  It’s hard to find mush sincerity in interactions today; friendships are shallow and true passion is a diamond in the rough.


No, not that one.



That aside, when I’m placed in a situation that would require an “I’m sorry” I try to find a way to offer support first, offer to ease their burden in some manner.  I’d rather be needlessly useful than sympathetic -which I view as pity (-pathetic…pity. Get it?) , a weak form of empathy.  Pity is the average reaction to someone else suffering and you aren’t/haven’t.  Although, some people do need to be  pitied or consoled…so just give them a hug or treat them to coffee and a talk, something…I don’t know.  However, for times when you don’t know the person very well, or feel uncomfortable with the conversation, it would be standard procedure to hand out an “I’m sorry” – an understandable path of action.

But what’s so wrong with offering that offer to someone you don’t know?  What’s so repulsive about meeting a new person or “wasting time” helping a stranger? For most people it doesn’t offer them enough of a benefit for them to warrant the exchange.  And that’s fine.  I just dislike acting like it makes you special.

It doesn't.

It doesn’t.

Well, um,  that was more of a rant than I was expecting it to be, but it’s 100% opinion, 100% my experiences.  I could probably get into a debate about this for a long time. I’m not saying this is applicable everywhere- nothing is concrete and uncertainty is everywhere- but, I don’t see other people really questioning this concept, so I thought I’d go ahead and put something out there. It may be a bit cynical, but I do my best to keep an open mind and be keen on learning other ways of viewing things.  I suggest you have at it!

“For one to repress their emotions, would be is as if they were denying the very essence of their being. And that, that is the very source of our unhappiness and pain.”

Listen to your cereal

Listen to your cereal.


3 thoughts on ““I’m sorry.” – Pity and Its Use as a Social Construct

  1. Wow! Fantastic Ginger Gestapo!
    Um, you may not like this, but I totally agree with you! My perspective is a bit different, although we reach the same conclusion.
    Ok, have you ever seen the film “Snatch”? Remember the scene where Turkish says “I’m sorry” to Mickey for the loss of his mother after the fire? Mickey responds, “did you do it?” And Turkish is dumbfounded by his break in the social contract of grief sympathy. Turkish responds–rather irked and confused–“No.” Mickey then says, “Then what the f*ck you sorry for?”


    You wanna hear someone challenging the “sorry” concept: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xz5DUzqy-Vc.

    You wanna read someone challenging this concept: Nietzsche.

    Love the post!

    • I have no problem with anyone agreeing or disagreeing with me. Any opinion presented with a god degree of logic, clarity, and some experience

      That’s actually a fantastic example; it’s blunt, but totally accurate. In fact, I may have to try and find a GIF of that scene…

      While, I haven’t read more than 1 or 2 excepts from Nietzsche (not enough to get a good grasp on his style), the video was interesting. What I took from it is that one can’t be truly, deeply sorry for something said or done because it was done for a reason. Whatever reason -however futile, childish, or selfish- was somehow important enough to act upon.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Hmm. This and the comment by eatingthepages (Great comment, btw.) kind of remind me of whenever folks hear about myself and my parents..and they generally are all “I’m so sorry!”
    I can understand why they say that, and I appreciate the sympathy..but almost always I am genuinely surprised by it. I mean..the person themselves didn’t do anything to me, nor cause
    or aid those circumstances…nor are they anything like those people. While the incident was horrific, yes…it shaped me through my own choices regarding it into a better person that understands why that sort of behavior is wrong and what any form of power or intellect should really be used for.

    So if anything, the only ones that should be sorry are the folks that generally aren’t. I’m sorry is certainly a term that pops up kind of on the fly..its sort of automatic stimuli..a knee jerk reaction.
    I do it many a time as well. I didn’t really reflect on it or think about it so much as until I was pondering on this post. I think i’ll be reflecting on this one for a while, and seeing where I can step out of that mold. How very interesting to see the world through another’s eyes. 🙂

    This post IMHO also underlines the very real power of words and their effects on others, and it could be said as to be a reason that the pen or the spoken verse is mightier than the sword. Its implications are longer lasting and can raise nations or shatter souls. No other force in the world by design of humankind can be said to be as powerful in its capacity to create or destroy. This is why I like to be blunt and upfront…flattery can be dangerous…they may not like your opinion, but at the least they’ll be able to trust that it is your opinion and not subject to ulterior motives as the modern day seems to be steeped in almost to the point of drowning. They’ll know they can trust your worlds, you will teach them and learn in return. Good stuff.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s