The Internet stands as the greatest advantage to the development of a sustainable civilization due to its unparalleled abilities in connecting all of humanity in a radical, unprecedented fashion. Socially, we can connect with distant relatives and childhood friends with a mere search on Google or Facebook, providing us the opportunity to continue our relationships with people once distant. For the modern set, this globally connected socialization is the new norm, but how can those on the cusp and the generations prior utilize the Internet for positive growth and healing? One novel idea involves reaching into the past and restoring broken relationships.
It’s almost pre-determined that we will encounter difficult periods in our life where our relationships suffer as a result of our naive adaptation attempts. Social pressures and toxic environments actively place burdens on the development of our character, leaving us with remorse and regret in the years that come. This lingering grief can cause lasting damage as guilt and fear swell inside us and the other party, shaping the decisions we make and how we feel about ourselves. With the Internet as an aide, we can more easily apologize to others and make amends for our past discretions, leading to improved well-being on both sides of the relationship.
According to the professional development site MindTools.com, an effective apology consists of these four components:
1) Expression of remorse.
2) Admission of responsibility.
3) An offer to make amends.
4) A promise to prevent it in the future.
The expression of remorse needs to come from a sincere reflection on our behavior; sometimes this may be years down the road when we’ve reached a more mature mindset and can see with parental eyes how grossly out of character we behaved. Using mindfulness and empathy as a tool, we can feel deeply how our past actions have harmed another.
The admission of responsibility takes ownership of the transgression. Even if there are reasonable excuses for why we behaved a certain way, the focus is on the person our actions hurt and making sure we can restore their dignity. By owning the situation, we make a direct and focused — almost surgical — approach towards rectification.
The offer to make amends “puts our money where our mouth is”. By offering a gift or favor, we make a genuine gesture of care. In effect, it shows that since we’ve taken from another, we are more than willing to give back.
The promise to prevent it from further happening indicates humility and discipline on our part, while sealing in the overall awareness of how our behavior was unjust. Simply saying “It won’t happen again” may feel like an empty promise; in exchange, we can express our awareness of character development as a continual process and our commitment to restoration.
While forgiveness may not arise immediately from apologizing, making the effort to communicate an apologetic awareness goes a great way in restoring dignity of the harmed party and graces us with the confidence of our maturation. It can feel vulnerable to admit wrong-doing; if this arrises, think of how great the other person might feel after receiving a long-overdue apology and use this as motivation to overcome the feelings of contention or shame.
The overall message here: instead of using the revolutionary communication medium of the Internet to further divide ourselves, we can — in unprecedented fashion — reach out to past relationships and make amends for immature transgressions. Imagine the healing potential this grants our community, right under our fingertips.