Stop Writing Open Letters

Stop With Your Open Letters

I have to choose my news sites carefully if I’m chasing some original commentary on an issue. Every news agency has an agenda and their content usually has a prevalent slant. And not only does their content have a prevalent slant, sites like The New York Times and Huffington Post have beaten the “open letter” concept into submission. These agencies give their columnists carte blanche to write these lengthy, passive aggressive “letters” to people they wouldn’t otherwise have the nerve to criticize directly. What really sticks out, though, are the open letters written out of spite, directed at people the writers know personally.

A Huffington Post piece written a few days ago, titled An Open Letter To The Man Who Criticized Me On A First Date is a great example of how this open letter concept has been beaten into the ground. No longer are open letters penned by great, influential people thrusting their pens towards change, they’re now shat out by D-list “journalists” with superiority complexes. The author of the op-ed piece above dedicates 500 plus words to roasting a guy for telling her the title of her “collection of essays” was “basic” and she wasn’t a real writer if she never watched Seinfeld.

“[Y]ou annihilated the title of my collection of essays. You called it basic and cliché without knowing anything about the theme or the focus. Before criticizing it, you didn’t inquire whether I meant for it to be taken ironically or literally.”

I won’t dispute that this guy sounds like a total asshat. Why someone would criticize another person’s work on a first date is beyond me unless he specifically meant to put her down to make himself feel better. But publishing an article denouncing this is an even worse, albeit ironic, move.

“But then, you were overly appalled when I confessed that I’d never seen any of your favorite TV shows, which included The Simpsons, South Park, Seinfeld, and The Family Guy [sic]… I tried to explain to you I held other series in high regard, Breaking Bad and Six Feet Under ranking at the top of the list…but you didn’t listen. Instead, you implied I was a deficit [sic] human being and couldn’t possibly be a writer if I hadn’t seen any of the aforementioned culturally significant shows.”

We’re getting down to the purpose of her gripe. She’s angry that he insulted her taste in television series, and, to be fair, plenty of cultural references must go over her head if she never watched any of the above mentioned quintessential American television series. This guy had to know he was insulting a HuffPost columnist. She probably kicked off the date by reading him a variation of his Maranda Rights.That’s no knock on her standing as a writer. I have a problem with how she handled this slight.

“I hope one day you see yourself in someone else and recognize that thwarting any chance of connection is not an accomplishment to be proud of. Until then, you’re missing out on getting to know a world of people.”

Rather than calling this guy a few days later and telling him that he’s an insensitive prick who hurt her feelings by being an abrasive douche, she turns to her the HufFPost to slam the guy. This is what journalism has come to in 2016. These self-important columnists for insipid websites ejaculate the most passive aggressive, pretentious and self-serving pieces of garbage, frame them in second person, and publish them as open letters to someone who, in all likelihood, won’t even read them.

Here’s the kicker: These open letters aren’t even letters. A letter is a line of communication existing between only a few people with implied confidentiality. Penning an open letter is now just a way to put someone on blast without fear of confrontation. It’s a farce used almost exclusively by holier-than-thou writers that think they have something very profound to teach the world by criticizing someone else in an internet column.

Cut the bullshit. Stop writing open letters.

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