Apologies are fascinating moral and cultural case studies.
It seems modern life increases our opportunities to give and receive apologies. One reason is accessible, rapid, far-reaching communication channels.
The ability to share information efficiently and quickly is a true blessing. The downside is we’re better positioned to say and do things publicly before realizing the full consequences.
Laura Ingraham of Fox News recently apologized for a Tweet she posted in late March: “David Hogg rejected by four colleges to which he applied and whines about it. (Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA ... totally predictable given acceptance rates.)”
Ingraham included a link to a news story in her post, which referenced a TMZ interview with Hogg, 17, a Parkland shooting survivor and gun control activist.
Ingraham’s linked article quoted Hogg, who told TMZ: “It’s been kind of annoying having to deal with that and everything else that’s been going on, but at this point, you know, we’re changing the world. We’re too busy. Right now, it’s hard to focus on (being rejected by colleges).”
Hogg responded to Ingraham’s “whines about it” Tweet with his own: “...(Laura Ingraham) what are your biggest advertisers … Asking for a friend. #Boycott IngrahamAdverts.”
Less than 30 minutes later, he posted a list of 12 top advertisers during Ingraham’s show, “The Ingraham Angle,” and instructed followers to contact the companies to voice displeasure with the host.
Ingraham Tweeted a two-part apology the following day.
Hogg went on CNN to reject Ingraham’s apology: “No matter who somebody is, no matter how big or powerful they may seem, a bully is a bully, and it’s important that you stand up to them.”
So far, Newsweek reports 18 of Ingraham’s advertisers have “distanced themselves” from her show. Earlier this week, Ingraham snapped back at Hogg’s ad boycott, calling his methods “Stalinist.”
I’m conflicted about the mechanics of the exchange between Ingraham and Hogg. What does it say about how we share honest beliefs and feelings, defend ourselves against criticism and resolve interpersonal conflicts?
Ingraham appears to have whipped off a Tweet after reading an article. She’s 54, and her Tweet is consistent with some of her past one-liners — in the vein of “these kids today.”
If we break down Ingraham’s role in the hullabaloo, we might say she started it. She’s a media personality who uses Twitter to share news stories from myriad outlets. With regard to Hogg, she made a comment some might deem constructive — albeit snarky — criticism. When she was called on it, she apologized.
Hogg is a media personality too; he now calls himself “spokesman for a generation.” Since the Feb. 14 shootings, he has developed a platform for commenting on a variety of subjects.
Thus, he responded to Ingraham with a threat, and he carried it out swiftly. He could say his threat worked; Ingraham apologized — fast.
However, Hogg has persisted in his campaign against Ingraham. Maybe the teen has wearied of adults minimizing his feelings about things that matter to him. Maybe he decided he won’t back down this time.
Does that response strike constructive blow at “bullies,” as his CNN interview suggests? If he succeeds in getting Ingraham’s show cancelled, what’s the message for the rest of us?