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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Shopping for Truth: Oops… I’m sorry

Published: November 21, 2008
Section: Opinions

<i>ILLUSTRATION BY Alex Doucette/The Hoot</i>

ILLUSTRATION BY Alex Doucette/The Hoot

I am imperfect. I make mistakes. I sometimes unintentionally hurt people’s feelings. I’m sorry.

You are imperfect. You probably screw up every once in a while. And I’m sure some of you have unintentionally hurt my feelings before. But the real question is: are you sorry?

Or maybe the better question is, do I think you’re sorry? Will I make you say it to believe it? Will either of us say those two words that are seemingly two of the most difficult in the English language to utter?

Just like the three word phrase “I love you,” it’s undeniably somewhat ironic that we find the utterance of two simple words to be unbearable yet we can easily utter words such as “I hate you” or “who cares?”

These two and three word barriers inherently involve an unwillingness to be vulnerable in the face of other human beings. It’s hard to admit you’ve made a mistake and it’s hard to express certain emotions. But what if it wasn’t so hard? What if you didn’t need to say “I’m sorry” anymore?

The other day when logging into my Gmail account, I was greeted by the usual oh so conveniently placed link right in the center of the page.

By the way, if Google’s intention is for its email users to click on these links, they’re probably doing a pretty good job if I took the two seconds to click on the link to the advertised website “Oops…..I’m Sorry.” “Oops…..I’m Sorry” describes itself as an “interactive web site that offers people Options, Opportunities, Possibilities and Solutions (OOPS), to deal with the “OOPS” that happen in life.”

Members of “Oops….I’m Sorry” are able to both post apologies to people they’ve wronged, demand apologies from those who’ve wronged them or post confessions on the site.

If this website actually exists, and believe me it does, it would seem we’ve finally reached that point in our digital existence where we no longer need the human language to communicate regret. Who needs to talk or communicate your remorse in person or even via phone when you have an anonymous online forum to do so?

Sure this website is anonymous so it’s not as potentially embarrassing as accusing someone of committing some heinous act in a public forum.

But if harboring unexpressed feelings is said to be unhealthy, isn’t expressing them anonymously also? If you can’t own up to your own mistake or feelings of anger in real life, how is it healthier to attack people online? Sure it’s easier, but it’s not braver.

Maybe this ‘community’ does offer people a chance to release their frustration, guilt or shame. Maybe we all need a shoulder to cry on or a friendly ear to listen and all that jazz. But can an online community really provide this? It’s the age old debate: “Are online communities replacing our own families?” And it’s never been more relevant than our current time of Facebook frenzy and twitter. Let’s just hope this website doesn’t catch on like Facebook has.

I hold grudges. Maybe I’ll tell you I’m mad at you. Maybe I won’t. Maybe it’s healthier to tell you I am. Maybe it’d be easier to send you an email or an “Oops…I’m Sorry” message.

Or maybe I’d rather just sit here and be blissfully blunt in my offline community.