Do other people see you as you see yourself? Do other people share your sense of urgency when it comes to things like apologies? Do they need to?
We here at YouJustGetMe hate beating dead horses as much as anyone else, but the ongoing Tiger Woods debacle deserves a little consideration for the sheer craziness of it. His heavily publicized apology effectively shut down all major TV networks, despite not being witnessed by the woman it was actually directed to. It was relationship drama as pseudoevent, hyperreality and postmodernity to a degree that would even raise Daniel Boorstin's eyebrows. But why?
"Why put yourself out there, voluntarily, while you're still in the middle of your own recovery?" asked John Grohol in his editorial on PsychCentral. "Why hold a 'press conference' where nobody is allowed to answer any questions? And where is the one person who should be there [to receive an apology] -- your wife? What does it help or prove?"
One thing it might indicate: Tiger Woods may have a similar personality to many personal bloggers! As we've talked about here on the YJGM blog, people who keep personal bloggers tend to be folks who have a high degree of extraversion and a high measure of self-disclosure in their personalities. The resulting effect for personal bloggers is that they are able to maintain large ego-centric networks with minimal time expended. Perhaps Woods was seeking to rebuild part of the massive ego-centric network we call a fanbase by putting himself out in public (extraversion) and sharing a very intimate and self-effacing apology (self-disclosure).
Could the self-disclosure itself be part of a healing process? Some experts - including the New York Times' Donald McNeil Jr. - believe that Wood's apology may be part of his working a 12-step program like Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. "We in S.L.A.A. believe that sex and love addiction is a progressive illness which cannot be cured but which, like many illnesses, can be arrested," explains the S.L.A.A. website. "An obsessive compulsive pattern, either sexual or emotional, or both, exists in which relationships or sexual activities have become increasingly destructive to career, family and sense of self-respect." The solution, as per S.L.A.A? A system remarkably similar to other 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous - one that includes, as part of several of the steps, public admissions of wrongdoing. However, S.L.A.A. is not a scientific program - as Grohol points out, "Sex Addiction" isn't even a recognized or diagnosable disorder.
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Woods was acting on some inner sense of urgency to apologize and somehow clear his name by admitting his guilt. Do we need to care? In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, Gail Collins takes a constructive view of the situation, framing the "hysteria over Tiger Woods" as a useful way for us to gain respite from the really depressing news on healthcare reform and the escalation of the war in Afghanistan.
We may also be playing into another phenomenon explored on the YJGM blog - the cycle of the narcissistic personality. The media-consuming public may have been enraptured by Wood's power and mastery, coupled with his absolute sense of entitlement to have numerous mistresses. The frightening aspect of this cycle, though, has played itself out - the media and public fed the attention by fixating so heavily on his apology, playing into Woods' lack of real self-awareness. When the viewing public watched Woods nervously apologize for his shortcomings, we may have seen the real man - the man tortured by the outcome of his actions, struggling all along to be aware of his culpability for his own behavior - far more clearly than Woods saw himself.