I Bet Keanu Reeves ALWAYS Says I’m Sorry

This morning I read a great article in Time entitled, “Why Everyone Is So Rude Right Now,” and it reminded me of a post I started (but never published) about how no one says “I’m sorry” anymore. At the time I wrote it, I thought maybe it was just my overly sensitive reaction to a minor offense … definitely not worth exposing my deep central nervous system sensitivity to physical, emotional, or social stimuli. After all, I’m a pretty private person!

But ya know … I don’t think it’s just me.

To be clear, I’m not referring to Sorry Syndrome apologies, “the overwhelming need to apologize for every little thing, even if the individual apologizing isn’t to blame or if the event they’re apologizing for is completely out of their control.” I know I don’t have to apologize to the sofa for bumping into it, and my therapy sessions on this are coming along nicely, thank you very much. Nor am I referring to the fact that women apologize more than men. Which … don’t get me started.

Nope, I’m talking about situations in which a clear injury, error, or other clash has occurred, but rather than apologize, the other party either ignores the situation or obstinately reinforces their assault. “I can’t believe you’re upset because I just ran that red light and almost hit you. So now I’m going to turn around and intentionally run into you and really give you something to be upset about.”

Sounds a lot like “You better stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about.” Ugh!

What’s going on here?

It’s interesting that a “should I apologize?” query brings up MILLIONS of articles on the Internet. And telling that the first of those results is “11 Times You Should Not Say “Sorry” (And What To Say Instead).”

Some other examples are:

This alone wouldn’t be a problem, as most of these articles explain (later in the text) that they are referring to situations in which an apology really isn’t appropriate but wholeheartedly recommend an apology when a clear offense has been made. The problem is that on average, eight out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only two out of 10 will read the rest. That means that eight out of ten people have now learned that if you want to be a successful person you should stop apologizing and say “thank you” instead. Hmmm … (and by the way, congratulations if you’ve read this far and realize this post isn’t just about Keanu Reeves!)

But clearly there’s something more endemic going on here than a bunch of really confused people who have to “google” whether or not they should apologize.

People who cannot apologize often have such deep feelings of low self-worth that their fragile egos cannot absorb the blow of admitting they were wrong

Guy Winch, a licensed psychologist whose three TED Talks have been viewed over 20 million times (and I’m not even exaggerating this time!!), and author of three science-based self-help books that have been translated into 26 languages, offers an explanation in his article, “We all know people who just can’t apologize — well, here’s why.” “People who cannot apologize often have such deep feelings of low self-worth that their fragile egos cannot absorb the blow of admitting they were wrong” Winch explains. “So their defense mechanisms kick in — at times, unconsciously — and they may externalize any blame and even dispute basic facts to ward off the threat of having to lower themselves by offering an apology.”

Similarly, in “Saying I’m Sorry – 4 Guidelines for an effective apology,” Richard B. Joelson DSW, LCSW writes, “It seems that some people experience an apology as a sign of weakness. Interestingly, when asked if they view it that way when the apology comes from another, they do not see it as a weakness at all, but rather the “right” or “responsible” thing to do. Remarkably, some will say it is a sign of strength or maturity when the apology is offered by the other person, but still feel that it is an unacceptable admission of defeat—or weakness—when the apology is theirs to give to someone else.”

So how are you supposed to react in these situations? Winch suggests, “the best way to do this is to accept their behavior — annoying as it is — and realize they’re simply psychologically incapable of apologizing. What’s more, they’re not going to change. Practicing acceptance can help you disengage from arguments with them and help you limit your feelings of frustration, anger and hurt.”

But for many of us “just too sensitive” people, it’s hard to reconcile the damage done with the necessity to just accept the behavior of the person who caused it. I admit, that’s a tough one for me. Disengaging has never been my forté, and I never learned the words to “Let It Go.”

But (here, finally, comes the Keanu Reeves reference) while I think I’m as badass as John Wick and don’t want to back down, I’d also love to think that, at least for myself, I can be “The One who would bring peace” like Neo, and has a second chance to live up to my potential like Shane Falco.

Yes, I aspire to be every character Keanu Reeves has ever played, and yes, I thought Diane Keaton was INSANE to choose Harry Sanborn over Julian Mercer. But I digress. The point I’m rambling on about and will eventually make is that I just love that a guy who can play a legendary hitman who once killed three men with a pencil … “a fucking pencil” … is strong enough to also say, “I don’t want to be a part of a world where being kind is a weakness.” And if Keanu can say that, then so can I.

So, I think I’ve found a solution to my “weakness.” From now on, I’m going to proudly wear my “I’m too sensitive” badge as a reminder of my INNER John Wick, tough enough, mature enough, and responsible enough to recognize it takes an incredibly sensitive person to understand that rudeness and bullying are the real indications of weakness.

Stop that text!

I am very grateful for a successful 40+-year career in communications. Technology, however, has sometimes taken my perfectly crafted message and thrown me right under the Schoolhouse Rock bus! The message is crystal clear, the word choices are both sesquipedalian and vernacular, the conjunctions are junctioned, AND I ACCIDENTLY SEND IT TO THE WRONG PERSON!

Granted, this isn’t a horrible thing when we’re talking about an update on Los Angeles County real estate metrics. It IS a horrible thing when you’re supporting a friend who just bitched about their sister and you include the sister on the thread because you still don’t know how to use that pesky little “@” symbol properly.

Unfortunately, it’s not the first time my fingers worked faster than my brain. It has happened many times, over every medium. Email, text, social media – I’m pretty sure that had I been the one in charge of the smoke-signal warnings along the Great Wall of China, I would have somehow told the Mongol cavalry exactly where and how to breach. My husband has heard, “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit …” countless times when I’m texting, and my best friend barely communicates electronically because she’s been so traumatized by my stories of shame.

And I’m clearly not alone. In a survey of more than 1,000 people, nearly 45 percent of those sending text messages accidentally sent their conversations to the person they were talking about. When I searched “what to do when you send a text to the wrong person” about 5,910,000,000 results were delivered to me in less than 1 second.

Unfortunately, despite five billion answers, not one of them can tell you how to retract an iphone text message once it has been received. But there are some suggestions.

So, can you unsend a text message?

Apple Messaging

I reached out to Apple recently to see if there was ANY WAY you could redact a text message. It was the millionth time I reached out to them. I have a direct line. They know me. And every time the answer is the same – you can’t do it (“, Nikki. so please stop calling us and just slow down from now on!”).

BUT, if you’re faster than the speed of light AND you know how to quickly access Airplane Mode, AND you happen to be in an area with the worst WiFi reception in the world, then it is possible to stop a text that you sent from reaching the inbox of the recipient. Here’s how:

Immediately put your phone into airplane mode. If you’re successful, the message will fail to send.

IMMEDIATELY put your phone into airplane mode. If you’re successful, the message will fail to send, allowing you to delete it.

My experience? Good luck. I tried this a few times and here’s what I found out:

  1. I have amazing WiFi service (thanks Verizon?)
  2. Be careful when you’re trying this technique. Chances are it won’t work, so think carefully about those practice text comments

For what it’s worth, there was a rumor in June, 2020 that the iPhone 14 would include a feature that would “retract iMessages after sending them, with the retraction visible to both parties. Fine print visible to both the sender and recipients would indicate that a message has been retracted.” My fingers have been crossed for 15 months now (but it still hasn’t stopped me from sending texts to the wrong people!).

TigerText for “Spies and Cheaters”

There are messaging apps that allow you to undo mistakes. Evidently there was a great app called “TigerText” that allowed you to retract unread messages, set a time limit after which text messages would self-destruct and be wiped from the original phone, the receiving phone, and the server.

I learned about TigerText in the aptly named article, “TigerText: The App for Spies and Cheaters.” However, after CBS chief Les Moonves and his executive team were accused of deleting critical messages in their legal battle with Shari Redstone (“What Is TigerText, the App CBS Execs Are Accused of Using to Delete Communications?“) the app was evidently rebranded as “TigerConnect” and is now used by physicans and hospitals as a messaging app fully compliant with HIPPA regulations (😳).

I have a feeling that if I had TigerConnect on my phone, I’d be breaking HIPAA regulations left and right.


If you happen to be texting with someone on WhatsApp (you’re both using the app), there is a way to recall a message sent by mistake on your mobile phone if the recipient hasn’t read it yet. All you do is go to the chat window, hold down on the text you want to remove and tap “delete.” If the recipient has already read the message it will only be deleted from your chat window … not theirs. Bummer.

Even so, I wish everyone I knew used WhatsApp. It sounds like I might have a chance with this one!

Apologize, forgive yourself, and try not to do it again

So what can you do when you sent a text to someone without meaning to? I found lots of articles and posts offering excuses and lies for misdirected texts. There are some incredibly creative suggestions for this (Hey! I just sent a message to you that was meant for (name another person). Could you please forward that to them? Or there’s this one: Check out my last text I sent to ( so and so) I just sent you. What do you think?) In the study above, just over 33 percent of people who sent a text to the wrong person used some combination of pretending it didn’t happen, blaming someone else for using their device, making up a lie, or simply saying nothing.

But even though it is soul-crushingly difficult to own up to the mistake, it is ultimately the best solution. In fact, 57.4 percent of people who sent a text message to the wrong person apologized for their error. Yes, it’s nauseating. Yes, you might even lose a friend (1 in 5 people report that a relationship has been negatively affected by an unintended text), but a sincere apology can “heal humiliation and foster reconciliation and forgiveness.” And even though you might still feel horrible … doesn’t the person you hurt deserve your apology?

(Care to share your experiences? Feel free to leave a comment below.)

10.25.2021 Update!!! I just tried to “undo” a message on Facebook Messenger, and it works! You and the recipient see that the ,message has been unsent … but hey, that’s a WHOLE LOT BETTER than what it COULD say!!