I have an unusual attitude to apologies, it would seem. I can infer this from the fact that I often get them when I don’t think they’re warranted and rarely when they are. Just to be clear, as I understand it an apology is something that is due when someone has done something wrong and that thing has inconvenienced, hurt, or otherwise upset someone else.
If your son, at the approximate age of seven, points out to his sister whilst on a train that I am wearing a kilt, you don’t need to apologise. I am wearing a kilt, so he hasn’t done anything wrong. Even if he had, it would take more than a wee boy commenting on my outfit to put a crimp in my day, and the apology certainly isn’t my due.
On the other hand, if you are in a cinema, and believe against all common sense that it is acceptable to use your phone to text, play games or actually hold a conversation, you are doing something wrong. Not only are you doing something wrong, you’re reducing my enjoyment of the film: no matter how boring you find it (and by the way, none of us are stopping you from leaving), I am here to immerse myself in the cinematic experience. Needless to say, if you jerk me out of that experience through your inconsiderate gadget use, you owe me and my fellow cinema patrons an apology. And possibly a beer.
The majority of people are blessed with the social awareness to know when they’re behaving in a way that stretches the bounds of acceptable. Where the line isn’t clear, there is often guidance freely given by the elders of our societal group. If you are misbehaving, and it’s causing inconvenience or distress, ninety-nine times out of a hundred you know that’s what’s occuring. When that does happen (and it will: we are, after all, only human), apologise. That’s what saying sorry is for.
This is from the