An Open Letter to Open Letters

by robinhardwick

Dear Open Letters:

You seem to be a popular form of essay writing and blog entries these days. I like how you are a device in which quirky writers use to address a particular topic without just stating “I love/hate it when…” because, let’s face it, that sounds like the editorial for a high school newspaper that no one reads and the only people who do are in the class that is required to produce it.

Since McSweeney’s uses the shit out if you, so it must be cool, right? I mean, it’s a snarky, passive-aggressive way to address an issue.  And snark is in. Snark and is happening. Irony is so NOW.

Your author is able to use you in several different ways. You are so versatile! They can either write to one person who you know who will never read it, yet your words are so witty and spot on you think, “my God, other people NEED to hear this! I have all the answers for this creative, famous, more successful person who will never get the honor of hearing my magical words”. Or, you can be a letter to an individual that you know and could really give the letter to (“An Open Letter to My Neighbor Who has Really Loud Sex”) but  you are actually too scared to actually give it to them or say the things you mean, so you print it as an open letter as a way to vent, as a way to gain sympathy from others. Maybe, just maybe, subconsciously, you WANT the person you are directing it to will come across it and read it, starting a dramatic conflict you can then talk about in a vlog entry on your tumblr. And lest we forget the open letter to the group of people (“An Open Letter to College Girls Who Where Uggs With Miniskirts”) where you can bitch and moan and make sweeping generalizations about a group and get people to leave comments like, “I nnow, you are so right!” and then also people who will claim “your just an jealous ugly troll”.  Who cares, you are still getting attention!

Open letter, I don’t want to insult you by even daring to mention the lazy, social media status update. That is just a way to complain to anything, including inanimate objects, “Dear people with cell phones: stop talking so loud when I am standing behind you in line. Love, me.”  Ugh! It’s so lazy, I can’t imagine how degraded you feel when people do that! I mean, if they are going to use you, they should at least put some time into you! I mean, at least have an opening introduction, some quirky examples, hipster-bashing and then submit it to Thought Catalog instead of just throwing up a half-asses phrase on facebook! I mean, really!

Open letters, you are a decent framing device. I’m not trying to fault you or say you should go away. I’m just trying to give you some friendly advice. I fear you are about to get overused. Just like an impoverished neighborhood where an upscale brick-oven pizza suddenly sets ip shop, you are on the verge of becoming overused and overrated. So I want to stop it before it gets out of hand. If you find that a blogger with thick black glasses and a tumblr starts to use you in the hopes to write something esoteric/ironic/lowbrow ( “An Open Letter to the fictional Student Body of Bayside High”) stall them a little. Make their computer freeze up. Somehow suggest another form of expressing themselves, like a bulleted list or an infographic.

So, remember, less is more. You don’t want to get overused, you want to stay classy. If you want to learn how, I’d suggest you talk to a Haiku. Not many people use Haiku’s these days, so when they pop up, they are still fresh, semi-ironic and quirky. I hope you can learn to be that way too.