Why We Must Stop Accepting Empty Apologies

Reece Conca targets Devon Smith

Reece Conca’s apology to Devon Smith; “Sorry mate … there you go”. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Media

I’m noticing an increasing trend and I’m uncomfortable with where it’s heading. Can someone explain why more and more of us are becoming so soft as to accept any form of apology, no matter how lacking in sincerity it may be?

With a simple “tut-tut, off you go then”, reprimands once in accordance with the misdemeanour have been replaced by a casual slap-on-the-wrist. This is all the more so if the offender has uttered the magical words “I’m sorry”; with meaning behind them or not.

Here’s what I’m talking about.

Last night at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Australian steeplechase runner Genevieve LaCaze marked the eve of her 25th birthday by joining the stage, uninvited. She seized the moment for her chance to dance with Kylie Minogue. Genevieve mistimed her stage bomb (Kylie had ducked back stage for a costume change), but at least she got to groove with the topless male back up dancers and cleverly winded her way through their choreographed routine.

She had fun, with 7 million people across the world watching on.

Today Genevieve’s spontaneity is being hailed a highlight of the night. She’s received a tonne of media attention, and I’ve yet to come across any that’s not in celebration of what could be deemed by some, as reckless thinking. The general consensus is ‘no harm done, what’s the big deal?’.

That’s true. There was no harm done — that we know of. I bet there was a few event producers, stage planners and security staff that became suddenly hyper on alert from Genevieve enjoying herself. And I’m also guessing the media wouldn’t have been so eager to applaud Genevieve had her actions sparked a rush onto the stage by other athletes.

Genevieve’s explanation was without apology. “The opportunity to dance with Kylie Minogue doesn’t come around every lifetime, so I took it”, she said.

And there it is. Another bold display from the #NoFilter generation.

With no filter between Genevieve’s thoughts and actions, her playfulness has won her notoriety. It keeps on happening, and we keep on rewarding it. Good for you Genevieve. I would say you’ve dodged a bullet, but as tends to be the norm these days, none were fired.

Carrying on the current trend to judge lightly, the AFL’s Match Review Panel yesterday showed leniency towards Richmond’s Reece Conca’s striking offence against the Giants’ Devon Smith. With an early plea, the penalty has been reduced. I love my football, but I am in no way an expert in tribunal matters, so I can’t comment on whether it’s unusual for an admission of guilt to be rewarded. Personally, I find this strange…

Reece targeted Devon with an elbow to the back of the head. Reece’s intention was captured on camera and it was clear. His explanation which followed not so much.

“Obviously it wasn’t the smartest move,” Reece admitted to Channel Nine. “I’d like to think I’m a fair player but once you cross the line it gets a bit heated.”

When asked if he would like to issue an apology to Devon, Reece said in a laid back manner,

“Sorry mate… there you go”.

Everyone take note! Reece has offered an apology.

Sort of.

“There you go”, he said. Nothing else to see here, move along.

A measly two-match ban imposed by the Match Review Panel supports Reece’s sentiment and the case is now closed. Perhaps if he’d been reprimanded for the intentional conduct, medium impact and high contact as was deemed of his knock to Devon, Reece may also have taken a knock – down a peg or two. 

I can’t figure out whether this display of arrogance is indicative of someone who thinks his shit doesn’t stink, or someone who thinks that he’s so smooth that any shit thrown at him won’t stick.

Either way, the whole incident is water off a duck’s back and therein lies my premise.

Lack of consequence is fuelling a society that believes it can conduct itself with no filter between thought and action. It believes it is untouchable. The bravado ‘out there’ is, in the main, accepted. Further, I see a trend to applaud it, even reward it.

The attitude seems to be that no matter what you have done, if you can front up, give some random explanation for your words or actions, perhaps even admit fault (with or without remorse) then all is well. She’ll be right mate. Apology accepted. And with that acceptance, the arrogance is perpetuated.

In George Orwell’s 1949 novel Big Brother, everyone is under constant surveillance and afraid of the authorities. Today in total contrast, modern culture feeds from being watched and the authorities are reticent to exercise their judicial rights. All publicity is deemed good publicity, even at the expense of our reputation. (Just give me the camera for my 10 seconds of fame. PLEASE!)

We are gratified through social media, we film each other fighting, we celebrate dickheads.

If someone causes us offence, we shake our heads and ‘tut-tut’ under our breath. Should an apology be offered, empty though it may be, we forgive easily and then we’re back to square one without any real change having taken place.

We’ve become a society that’s afraid of standing our ground and dishing out consequence.

I’m an advocate for people speaking their minds and acting out their true selves, but I think we’re heading in a direction that condones self-responsibility. And that’s why I’d like to see the filter reinstated between thought and action.

If we want to be treated right, we have to – at some point – break away from the masses that turn a blind eye and exercise our personal authority. We must let others know what is not okay by us. We must have the courage to stop accepting empty apologies and challenge others when we’re not satisfied. We must be brave enough to apply consequences where warranted.

Because I see #NoFilter is taking on a whole new meaning, and it’s dragging us into a careless abyss.

About Sue McKay

Loving life as I boldly go where I've never been before. I'm a writer, photographer, greeting card designer and business owner of Kick It To Me Enterprises who has grand visions involving my Nikon, some surfers and my blog.

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