Thursday, August 07, 2008

the sociology of regret


I have nothing to say.

But here's Jay Livingston, Wicked Anomie, and Jeremy Freese on the matter. Jay ties the above to Milgram's omission/commission experiment; Anomie does the math by gender (and makes a qualification that the assumption underlying the research question is heteronormative, yes, but quite possibly more men than women regret kissing/not kissing), and Jeremy is right that the study could be expanded into a paper for those of us regrettable folks who regret everything. Like, I am just filled with regret. I'm regretting what I'm saying right now. Right now. And now. Also, what I didn't say.


Addendum, upon further reflection:

I suppose I could have turned this post into an essay about my own experience with this phenomenon. Ha! As if I still blogged diary-like as I did when I had a Xanga site. I welcome your stories, though.

I will say that if you do write such a story, do not write the name of the person on your blog that you think only ten people read, because they will inevitably Google themselves and find your post and then know that you wanted to kiss them back in freshman year of college. Not that I would know anything about that. This is called "reverse googling":

So, there was a woman in college, beautiful and elegant, who I really should have asked out (who's elegant in college? exactly). But I was busy with my terrible first, and never did. I've googled her since then, of course, but her name is not only pretty common, but she shares it with another woman who graduated from the same college in the same year. Google hell. But what I've realized is that bloggers who are looking for long lost people can use reverse-googling: mention the person on the blog, because everyone googles himself sooner or later. You could just say "Hey, Betty Sue Gingersnaps, email me!" and sooner or later, Betty Sue would see it. I'm not going to do it in this case, because I'm pseudonymous, for one, and I don't want to embarrass this woman, but I think it's a neat idea.

However, trying to get over the regret of an omission through the commission of a possibly regrettable action that sort of sounds tinged with stalker fixation and potentially embarrassing to the intended--well, up to your judgment. Things can end uneventfully, which is the probably best case scenario, or wildly romantic, if you lived in a Nora Ephron screenplay, but otherwise, it will probably just come off weird and creepy.

Also, regret is good for you. It's okay to make mistakes, even if they were ones of omission. You don't have to do everything or jump at every opportunity. Sometimes life's living is in the holding back and waiting. Not forever, mind, but nothing wrong with waiting until you're ready. And passed-over opportunities are not to be mourned as much as failures. Just think about the next opportunity. That gives you the room for the next adventure, and the next choice. I am also reminded of that Garth Brooks song. Of course, if you make mistakes of commission, all the better too! That's how you learn. Blah blah blah. Everything can be twisted and spun into a rosy character-building lesson.

Yes, dear friends, I realize that I'm being pot kettle black right now, as I continually listen on repeat to these songs. Whev. I regret everything and nothing!


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