AN OPEN LETTER TO EVERYONE CURRENTLY WRITING OPEN LETTERS
15th October 2013
Please stop writing open letters to each other. If you genuinely want to talk to the person you’re supposedly addressing, please find a way to get in touch with them directly. You do not need to include the rest of us in your misguidedly communal diatribes. In making your letter “open”, it seems like you’re really just attempting to jump on the bandwagon of your addressee’s publicity. It's as if you’re desperately clawing for a tiny shred of their pop-culture relevance, selfishly hoping that some of the over the top exposure your recipient is getting will ooze its way to you as your name begins to appear alongside theirs.
But my cynicism aside, maybe your open letters are actually coming from a good place, Everyone. Maybe you are just trying to offer your addressees some sage advice, constructive criticism or even moral support. That’s great and I applaud that, wholeheartedly. But why don’t you keep your exchanges private, Everyone? Would that not be more beneficial for you and them? Couldn’t you then have a real conversation with your recipient, without the prying eyes of the media illiterati weighing in with their own imitation pearls of wisdom? The sceptic in me doesn't think that you want to have an actual conversation, Everyone. You just want to throw your words in to the ether and not hear anything back – or, at least, only hear agreement. But Everyone, that’s not how a conversation works. Conversations are sometimes challenging and your open letters fragrantly ignore that fact, acting simply as monologues masquerading as elements of a two-way exchange. There is no dialogue.
Moreover, don’t automatically assume that the rest of us care about the content of your letters, Everyone. By ungraciously thrusting your letter in to the public space, it carries the self-imposed implication that you’ve said something so deep and so profound within it that everyone else needs to immediately take heed. That smacks of narcissism. How wrapped up in yourself do you have to be to presume that the rest of us want to read your ramblings?
I don’t know if you’ve noticed Everyone, but the letter is an art form dying a slow and painful death. It has been unceremoniously damned to a literary hospice, as terminal cases of email, texting, instant messaging and dang-fangled social media gradually pluck away at its lasts fibres of being. Why not give the dying letter format a final shred of dignity? Keep your letters personal, Everyone. Imbue your words with worth by ensuring that they are not butchered and dissected publicly, but rather absorbed and privately reflected over by your intended recipient. Finally, and I cannot stress this last part enough, stop clogging up my internet with letters that are not meant for me, you cur.
P.S. I have no idea how I’m meant to post this to Sufjan Stevens.