I overreacted the other day and accused someone of meaning something they hadn’t. Today I apologized. When I did so, I mentioned the circumstances of being under attack by other people in the thread, but went on to say that I had wronged this person. Bringing up my tension was not an excuse, but an explanation. I try not to give excuses when I am in the wrong, but save them for when I don’t owe an apology.
People don’t like to apologize. I am one of these. It’s painful to come down, to expose oneself as a moral inferior, but it must be done for the sake of peace and truth. I give more apologies than I get, though I feel that I am owed a few. Jerks can be defined, in part, by never admitting that they are wrong. They blast you with names — the more rotten the better — and accuse you of crimes that you did not commit. I find them in all areas of my online life. Sometimes I block them, sometimes I blast them, sometimes after a few salvos, I declare that I want no more part of their game of “Someone is wrong on the InterNet” and just ignore them.
I have had people try to get me to apologize to someone when that person didn’t think I needed to apologize. The state of mind of my antagonists is surreal under such circumstances. I’ve been accused of all sorts of things but what strikes me is that in all their high-holiness, they aren’t listening to the person who they think has been wronged. I won’t give an apology where none is deserved or wanted, especially when prodded by people who are not affected. No one has the right to appoint themselves as spokesperson for someone else.
If someone tells me that I offended them, I listen to their reasons. Usually I will apologize if we can’t establish that there was a misunderstanding. Misunderstandings are no big deal. They happen. I let them go. I expect no apologies for them, but forgive readily.
I believe that a good apology requires that you take responsibility for your actions, though you may describe the circumstances under which you failed as an explanation but not an excuse. When you say “it was because you said or did this”, it isn’t an apology but a cop-out.