Wednesday, August 31, 2011

‘xkcd’ on sympathy vs. remorse

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So true:

‘I’m Sorry’ [@ 08/31/11 12:00 AM] | ‘xkcd’ by Randall Munroe: “My mom’s house burned down.” “Oh! I’m sorry!” “Why? It’s not your fault.” “It’s nice of you to say that, but I know what I did.” Subtext: “It annoys me when people interpret an obviously sympathetic “I’m sorry” as an apology, so I’ve started responding by making it one.”
Mouse-over text: “You know I’ve always hated her.”

To be fair, it doesn’t actually annoy me so much as perplex me. If I say ‘I’m sorry’ upon hearing about the death of your mother or so some such, then unless I’m renown for displaying murderous tendencies towards your old lady (or some such), I’m obviously not apologizing for what happened out of remorse. Thus, it must be out of sympathy.

Honestly, you’d be shocked at how difficult this seems to understand for some people … unless you encounter this sort of weird attitude as frequently as I do.