The first time I heard the phrase, Sorry, Not Sorry, I thought the person was just being obnoxious. As I began hearing and reading it more my annoyance only grew. I could imaging it being uttered by what was once called a valley girl — “Uh, Like, Sorry, Not Sorry?” It also reminds me of that ridiculous thing that caught on in the early 90’s from the movie Wayne’s World, where you add “not” to the end of a sentence to make make your sarcasm clear. “Oooh, I’m soooo sorry. Not!”
Aside from being annoying, the term is simply redundant. When you use the term, you are apologizing for feeling that there is no reason for you apologize. There are other words you can use to express that, such as correct, right, justified, apathetic, warranted, or even fair to say.
The other option would be for people to just keep it to themselves. After all, no one actually needs to point out that they aren’t sorry that they feel a certain way. Does anyone think that it’s necessary to tell people about all the other emotions they aren’t feeling at the moment as opposed to what they are?
The term obviously isn’t simply a simple statement of non apology, however. It has a very specific purpose. Sorry not sorry is a sarcastic way of acknowledging that someone might not like whatever you’re saying or doing … but you don’t really care. And it’s something you probably ought to apologize for.
The phrase is in the same family as, “Don’t take this the wrong way. . .,” and “No offence. . . “
“Don’t take this the wrong way” is always put before something that can only be taken one way, and that way is as some kind of insult or criticism. It’s tongue in cheek, because the person knows you won’t take it the wrong way, that’s the whole point. But they seem to believe that saying this first, lets them say whatever they want and be blameless about it.
As for “No offense” anyone who actually uses this term after kindergarten age should understand that if it’s necessary to tell someone how they should feel at the beginning of the sentence, then what you’re about to say absolutely does not need to be said! Never in the history of the world has anyone NOT been offended by a sentence that begins with “No offence but. . . “
We have moved away from polite, respectful discourse and have come to a point we believe we have every right to say whatever we want even if it is insulting or hurtful. And to add to this, we hide behind silly phrases that have been coined to announce that we are about to do this so the person has no doubt as to whether we meant it or not. Of course, this suggests that we know that it isn’t really okay to do.
Now, I’m not saying there is no place for discussions about controversial matters in our world or in our writing. I’m also not saying that there aren’t times when others are acting in a way that we believe needs to be addressed. This brings me to my other problem with the phrase.
Sorry, not sorry, instantly signals to your listeners or readers, that there is no substance to your remarks. It comes down to whether or not you want your words to carry weight instead of just sounding like you are throwing a tantrum. Sorry, not sorry, immediately tells your audience that what you are about to say can be readily dismissed. If you feel that what you are saying is important, or you want your words to effect some kind of change, the best way to get your point across is to simply state your position and add any evidence that supports you.
What we say is what we believe, and that is what makes us who we are. Our words are our public face and they are most often what we are judged on. If you want to say something that you feel needs to be said even if it’s controversial, or unpopular, just say it, without regret, of feeling the need to hide behind some sort of cutsey affectation.
But first consider what you intend to accomplish with your words, what their likely impact will be and what they say about who you are. Are you just trying to slam someone in the moment? Or do you feel you are justified in addressing something that it’s important to you to address?
If your purpose is the latter, then isn’t it in your best interests to communicate in a way that is going to be taken seriously? If so, then drop Sorry, not sorry, and similar phrases from your vocabulary and just say it like it is.
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