"Sorry, everybody"

By Rebecca Traister
Published November 9, 2004 11:29PM (UTC)
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What is so beguiling about SorryEverybody.com? What keeps us going back again and again to look at more snapshots of aggrieved Kerry voters expressing their regret to a disappointed world?

It's a simple idea, really: Upload photos of yourself, your friends, and your pets bearing little handmade messages. The shots are blurry, badly lit; the people in them are no supermodels. But the site was so overloaded with visitors that over this last weekend, it sometimes took so long to access that visitors got timed out. Some of the overspill went to Flickr.


"Sorry youse guys," reads a note from a group from Philadelphia. A mother holding a baby writes, "I didn't want this for my son, I didn't want this for you. I am very, very sorry." "New England is very sorry it couldn't save the country," says a man holding an American passport marked "For sale." Judy, 64, and Hal, 74, write: "You youngsters have a lot to be sorry about. At least we don't have to live much longer." A woman with big silver earrings wears a sign on her fuzzy cap that says "shame on us." Another alleges that "more than 51 percent of us still have a brain" and adds, "Go Pistons! (and Michigan State!)"

Then there are the penitent pets: A kitten propped up on a copy of Dave Eggers' "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" whose message reads, "I'm sorry. I don't know how this happened, either." A small but heavily-coiffed dog sits proudly in front of her stuffed bunny, on which a pink heart with the word "sorry" is pinned. Beau the dog says, "I restrict my turf issues to my own backyard." Henry the cat is shown "hopeful" before the election and then with his head smushed into his blue sofa afterwards. A slow-looking hound props up a sign that says: "I'm sorry that I am smarter than 59 million Americans. p.s. My brain is smaller than a walnut."

Mixed in are forgiving replies from the rest of the world: A trio of amorous Germans who invite disenchanted Americans to come over, "have a drink, chat a little, pray for peace on earth, and perhaps have some sex....Just don't bring HIM." There is a photo of a misty castle, with this forward-thinking message: "You are Sorry, we are Sorry too. Just make sure, that the Austrian Bodybuilder will not access the Oval Office in 2008. We already had an Austrian Painter once, and you had to come over here to get rid of him."


Mostly though, SorryEverybody is a heartbreaking portrait of the United States: The nerds, the wonks, the moms, the dogs, the gay, the straight, the foreign-born. In sweatshirts and suits and nightgowns, athletes and guitarists and Dean Koontz fans. The supposedly apathetic young and supposedly conservative elderly. SorryEverybody is like an online Breakfast Club, brought together in remorse, putting technology to use in a way that wouldn't have been possible even four years ago, to do something deeply, wholly un-American: Apologize.

Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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