A week of apologies
I am sorry!
How much do we apologize for our actions, for our behaviors or for our mistakes?
How much do we really mean to ask for forgiveness?
But more importantly: how many of our“I’m sorry!” could be avoided in the first place by paying more attention to our manners?
This was a extraordinary week for me, for half to the week I was still here alone in New York while my boyfriend was spending his days in Italy for work reasons.
But, as you can tell from my postcard, our physical distance didn’t keep me to be grumpy and terrible with him, thus having to apologize quite often.
It’s so easy to forget to be polite and respectful with the closest members of our families, with the ones who loves us the most, and I believe this hits home for lots of us.
One more time, the act of acknowledging those rude behaviors in form of data-points helped me recognizing them, and reflecting upon each specific situation. I truly hope this will help me being better with him in the weeks to come.
For seven days I payed attention and tracked all the apologies I made and I received.
I also noted the “level” of the excuses, indicating wether there was a real need to say it, depending on the situation. I added details about the reason why we apologized, who the person involved was, and wether it happened in real life, or via text ,or on a phone call.
By looking at my data what jumped at me the most is the apologies I made were balanced in numbers with the apologies I received, after all. I couldn’t believe it! I was pretty sure I’ve been more apologetic to others, but data proved me wrong!
This finding led me to compose a sort of “tree” with my data with the left part displaying my apologies and the right side for others’ excuses.
In an attempt to compose something different than my previous cards, my first version was on a black paper background drawn with white marks.
But I ended up disliking it so I crafted it again on the regular white paper.
I don’t like my postcard at all, it’s one of my less favorite, and I’ve been spending so much time on it!
I guess I was experiencing the first time of Dear-Data fatigue and drawing paralysis: how can I still invent new and pleasant visuals after so many weeks?
Besides, the way I collected my data was so similar to many of my previous weeks that I couldn’t really come up with something very original, and I am SORRY about that Stef!
On a positive note, and as Stefanie often points out, a postcard needed to be drawn and sent, and despite my dissatisfaction I made it and posted it.
Among other thing this project is teaching us to be less critical with ourselves as designers, to embrace our failures and eventually to learn from them: we still have 7 postcards left, and I’ll do my best to find ways to make them more compelling!
Stefanie’s card is very nice! She drew her data as ‘olive branches’, I love it, it’s one of my (new!) preferred card of hers.
She also tracked the un-necessary apologies, a very interesting aspect that - actually - Stefanie’s mom suggested to track in the first place, because this weeks’ topic was proposed by her: thank you for that!! :)
Stefanie’s sorry are quite balanced among topics, receivers and reasons, I am very curious of her interpretations of it!
When we launched our project online, we added a ‘Get in Touch’ form on our website in case people wanted to email us, and we’ve received lots of lovely fan mail from people who have enjoyed the project. Giorgia fields all these emails, and forwards particularly interesting ones onto me, and occasionally she will forward on ‘fan mail’ from a ‘fan’ that I know very well: my mom.
Since I live so far away from my mom we tend to be in touch through multiple channels: social media, messaging, video chat, and so on, so of course Dear Data would be an additional layer for this multichannel communication, right? I love that I am in touch with my mom across all these channels except the fact she has become incredibly adept at EMBARRASSING ME DIGITALLY in front of ALL my friends on Facebook, or trolling me on Twitter, to the point where most of my real-life friends all know her name. (this is both infuriating and great in equal measure… I know she is just being cheeky but she really has a knack for digital embarrassment)
Anyhow, occasionally my mother will send an email to both of us via our website that is offering feedback, or saying hello to Giorgia, and so on. Recently, she sent an email suggesting we gather data on when we apologise, since anecdotally many women often comment that they a bad habit of apologising unnecessarily.
Mom (since I know you are reading this), you spoke and we listened! (for the last time, this is not going to be a habit)
I know I apologise too much, as apologies are the weapon of choice for an insecure perfectionist, andnever feel as though I get things exactly right. However, I never realised how my apologies take many different forms, from my ‘perfectionist’ apologies, to the types of apologies I write when replying to another email in a less-than-timely manner, to apologising whenever I bump into someone on the street (the British version of saying ‘excuse me’, or ‘pardon me’).
Unfortunately, the data from this week that gave me the most pause were the times when I apologised because I was mad at myself and mad at my mistakes as opposed to the situation actually requiring an apology. This is a shame, as it just makes me feel bad about myself unnecessarily… by apologising repeatedly, even when I am not in the wrong, I am always on the back foot in a situation.
Also, I am so embarrassed to realise that I often apologised for ‘being annoying’. This is a terrible habit: sometimes I apologise because I feel as though I am bothering other people, that I am an imposter, that I don’t belong somewhere. This is a constant feeling, and when I get nervous or have a terrible bout of impostor syndrome I start to apologise for the most inconsequential things.
Oh, perhaps this week should have been a performative data-gathering week, where we gathered data on all of the times we wanted to apologise, but we instead held our tongue…by the end of this project I’m going to have a list of habits that I would like to change in myself: maybe the perfect material for another year-long project?
Giorgia’s card arrived in the post and as usual, she always records data on herself (her apologies) AND on other people (others apologies to her). I never seem to remember to do this in my data-gathering, so I’m feeling pretty self-centred at the moment!
However, thinking about this has given me an epiphany: repeatedly apologising for everything is pretty self-centred as well, in a way. A person who keeps apologising for everything must think that anything they do wrong will shake up the entire world when in reality, the world will keep spinning quite nicely with or without their mistakes, so why make such a big deal about them?