Quit writing open letters

Dear people writing open letters:

Please stop.

We all know that your open letters are not really letters to the “designated recipients.”

We all know that you’re really writing to us, the public, the masses, the mindless scrollers of newsfeed loops, the social media followers, and that you have thoughts. Opinions. Valuable opinions to share about this latest thing, this story, this whatever-the-hell happened.

And you want to share those thoughts. You want to be heard. Maybe you have some actual expertise in the matter. Maybe you want to set things straight. Whatever. Basically, you want what we all want: some affirmation. Some feedback. You have a voice, dammit, and you want to know it’s been heard.

And you know what?

That’s cool. We get it.

We are like you. We are you. We understand.

It’s okay for you to want attention. We all want that, in one way or another. I do. I want to feel important. I want to know that I matter. I like praise. I can live off the fumes of positive feedback for… Hours, maybe.

I’d ask you to do one thing, though, this one simple, simple, very simple thing.

Stop writing the pretend letters to the celebrity or news anchor or corporation or spokesperson or dead person or latest object of Internet fame.

Stop it.

You’re not writing those people.

You know it.

We know it.

You’re writing to us. You’re addressing the public, the masses, the general readers of things written. We are your audience. We are your designated recipient.

And what you want is our approval, our attention, our affirmation that you’ve said something worthwhile, you’ve had some thoughts and you’ve shared them, you’ve put your opinion out there and we – the people – have heard it.

That’s what you want. So write your letter to us. I’ve even put together a sample title for you:

“An Open Letter to the People on Facebook at 11:38pm About the Latest Rage-Inducing Internet Famedom Thing We’re All Pretending to Be Angry About Right Now”

Too long?

If you want, you can change out “latest rage-inducing Internet famedom thing” to whatever the current thing is.

Probably not necessary.


You can save yourself some trouble. Write a form letter that you can reuse anytime!

Here’s how:

  • Refer to the main subjects of the current thing with vague nouns and phrases: “the subject,” “this person,” “person in question,” “victim,” “perpetrator,” and so on.
  •  Employ many emotional words: anger, rage, injustice, passion, danger, distress, consequence, hurt, offended, belittled, empowered, hostile, humiliated.
  • Talk mostly about yourself: your background, your professional opinion, your anecdotal evidence, your unique perspective that is an awful lot like the 3,472 other commenters on that one NPR article.
  • When you’re ready to publish for the latest current thing, just pop in a few relevant details and you’re ready.

The point is that, really, you’re talking about yourself.

I have no problem with this.

I’m talking about myself right now. You can tell because of the pronoun “I” which appeared in the last two sentences. The use of the pronoun “I” is a good indicator that the author is referring to herself.

We are all pretty much obsessed with our very own selves. We all filter life through our self-absorbed individual lenses. We are all concerned with what people think about us. We are emotionally needy, hungry for praise and affirmation, gasping for attention and acceptance.

I am, anyway.

Maybe you guys are okay without.

But I’m not.

I might try to act like I’m not, but if I’m asking you to be honest, I should be honest too. I love attention. I love praise! I love feeling smart and witty. I hope that one of my smart and witty friends will praise me for being smart and witty in the writing of this open letter to open-letter writers!

We are all needy people, and we need each other, and we can’t change that, and maybe we could be honest about it.

Needing each other is a beautiful thing.

So, if you’re ready…

If you want to try it with me…

If you want to be even more bold and honest than my first suggested “Open Letter” title, you can use this refreshing version, instead:

“Some shit happened today somewhere and people are talking about it and I have some thoughts and feelings about it (an awful lot like other people’s) and I want to talk about it too. Also, please love me.”

Too long? I’m bad at titles. It’s probably too long.

The Internet is fickle and petty.

A too-long title can get you ignored, and we don’t want that. So here is one final title option for you. A freebie. I think it will get you exactly what you want:

“She heard the shocking news on the Internet. When she wrote down her feelings? You won’t believe what happened next!”

Someone who just wrote an open letter