It seems like almost every day some public figure is apologizing for saying something or doing something that others find offensive. On a private level, people are always apologizing all over the place as well. Maybe we have become an apologizing society. There are different kinds of apologies, depending on the situation. Each has a different motive and a different meaning.
Apologizing to Appease. People often apologize to control somebody’s feelings. An alcoholic goes on a drinking binge, and when he comes home his wife is waiting impatiently. Before she can express her anger, he quickly and eagerly apologizes. He doesn’t truly feel sorry about what he has done, but instead is apologizing out of fear. He wants to nip her expected expression of anger at the bud.
Therefore the apology does not come from a caring place or from remorse, and hence its meaning could be stated, “OK, I’m apologizing so just calm down.” Such an apology doesn’t mean anything and doesn’t resolve anything.