- Nov 2021
One of the people I spoke with was asked to apologize for an offense that broke no existing rules. “I said, ‘What am I apologizing for?’ And they said, ‘Well, their feelings were hurt.’ So I crafted my apology around that: ‘If I did say something that upset you, I didn’t anticipate that would happen.’ ” The apology was initially accepted, but his problems didn’t end.
Even in cases where one apologizes for offences which don't break existing rules and the apology is accepted by the transgressed, the social ostracism doesn't end. This is a part of the indeterminate length of the social sentences that transgressors suffer.
What exactly are these unwritten rules? In some cases they may be examples of institutional power wielding influence in cases where people aren't giving the full benefit of humanity and consideration to others. Some may call some of these instances microaggressions or social constructs similar to them.
But isolation plus public shaming plus loss of income are severe sanctions for adults, with long-term personal and psychological repercussions—especially because the “sentences” in these cases are of indeterminate length.
Putting people beyond the pale creates isolation, public shaming, loss of income, loss of profession, and sometimes loss of personal identity and psychological worth. The most insidious problem of all is the indeterminate length of the "sentence".
For wealthy people like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, and Kevin Spacey, they're heavily insulated by the fact that at least they've got amassed wealth which mitigates some of these issues. In these cases the decades of extracting wealth through privilege gives them an unfair advantage.
There are now apparently enough cases of this happening, it would be interesting to watch the long term psychological effects of this group to see if these situations statistically effects their longevity or if there are multi-generational knock on effects as have been seen in Holocaust survivors or those freed from slavery.