Guilty and Charged–by Culpamax

♫ Everyone’s doing it, doing it, doing it
Messing up badly and ruing it, ruing it ♫
“That’s rather sweet of you Humphrey to give me a card. I’m not really sure what the occasion is though.”
Humphrey gives a rather fussy and embarrassed smile, a Hugh-Grant-without-the-looks kind of thing.
“And this number at the bottom, it’s six digits. Can we have known each other that long?”
“You have to turn the card over, my love.”
“What, you mean this bloody great MC. Bloody because it’s in red, you see.”
“Other side.”
Turning it over, “Culpamax.com.” Okay I get it. She gets out her smartphone, punches in the web site, then the six digits and reads: “I, chosen to be anonymous, do hereby swear and attest that even though my actions were (state unintentional details), I now realize they have caused genuine hurt and distress to Prunella Trott for which I cannot forgive myself. I can only offer this public apology for which I give myself (three thumb down icons) and humbly ask for Prunella Trott’s forgiveness and understanding. As a token of my sincere regret I have posted $50 bail to the Culpamax charitable foundation, Guilt-edged Giving™ and have chosen mental health as my chosen area of giving.”
“Humphrey, you appear to be apologizing.”
“Yes, I am. Very much so. Yes.”
“I don’t understand. Apologize for what? Is there someone else?”
“No, never. You see, Prune, everyone’s doing it. These culpamax folks are facilitating is all. Take a look at some of the celebs. Just click on the “most popular” tab.”
“Hmmm, Crystal Buckstooth.” Reads excerpts, “Even though email was private…still unforgivable. Five thumbs down. Truly sorry. A thousand bucks bail to the culpamax charity fund. Hmmm, Africa.” Then, thinking, “How is an apology public if it is made anonymously? And what are you apologizing for? And what do you mean by mental health.”
“Prune, can’t you see? All that matters is that I am sincerely sorry for the hurt I have/may have/ or will cause you.”
“You seem to see this as some kind of blanket, get-out-of-jail-free card?”
“No. Well, yes. Kinda. You see you are the embodiment of perfection. I am a flawed man. It’s inevitable that I will fail you. It’s just a matter of time. This just takes the pressure off a little.”
“Humphrey why have you chosen only three thumbs down icons when super-penitent Crystal has five. Are you trying to take the max out of culpamax?”
“I’ve thought about that. I decided there should be room for improvement—well, the opposite of improvement really—if I do something even worse.”
“Theoretically or actually?”
“Does it matter?”
“Of course it damn well matters. What’s got in to you? And why are there three coils of rope next to Crystal’s apology?”
“Oh, those. That’s the result of the voting so far. Anyone visiting culpamax can award a number of whips, from one to five, depending on what punishment they think the apologizer deserves.”
“Whips!”
“Virtual whips from 200 strangers hurt a lot more than one real whip from someone you know, and maybe even love.”
“Humphrey, I’m an old-fashioned kind of girl.”
“Wow, you mean real whips?”
Ignoring him, “Humphrey this is ridiculous. All it does is trivialize the sacred act of contrition. It is saying, really, that an apology is worthless.”
“Was worthless Prune. You see before it was just words. You can’t say an apology is worthless when it’s got fifty bucks and two whips behind it. As the Culpamax folks say, they are monetizing guilt, supporting worthy causes, creating stakeholder value—all sorts of good things. Think of the relationships they are saving.”
“They had better get to work on this one.”