Apology Atrophy?

A recent column in the New York Times by Jessica Bennett (“Hes’s Sorry, She’s Sorry, Everybody is Sorry. Does it Matter?“) notes that public apologies just don’t seem to be making us feel better these days. Where ten years ago the public apology seemed like sufficient punishment to restore the offender to society, now it is more apt to leave us unsatisfied. Is it because the public apology has become so ubiquitous, trotted out for both the large and the smallest of infractions? Have we become cynical towards public apologies, so that, while we demand them, we never find them sincere? This article preceded the Will Smith apologies for his behavior at the Academy Awards ceremony earlier this month. Has he apologized enough? There will always be a place in personal relationships for apology, but the contours of the public apology may be changing.