An Open Letter to Private Letters

Dear Private Letters,

I’m outing you. Like it or not, I’m ripping open the handwritten envelope with the actual stamp on it — the one with a return address of a real person — and I’m pulling you out into the open. You think you’re so fancy with your personal salutation and your specific sentiments. As if communicating with a person one-on-one suggests more of a relationship. More intimacy. More connection. Please.

Have you never heard there’s strength in numbers? You are written for one measly person. I’m written for the mass generalization of thousands of people. Millions, if there’s enough sarcasm and judgment included. Taking the time to write a personal letter to share your feelings with only one other human being is just setting yourself up for honest communication and true accountability. Ain’t nobody got the emotional fortitude for that.

Take it from me. Start writing to the masses. Lump certain groups of people together to make it more efficient. You know, all the same race, all the same political leanings, all the same religions and so on. You might want to make some file folders for the biggies: poor people, celebrities, the handicapped. You’ll find your niche soon enough.

If you’re posting online, be sure to count the number of “likes” you get and try to discern the level of anger in the comments. If it isn’t high enough, ratchet it up. Stir the pot. Seething anger and heartbreaking despair: those are your barometers. Don’t be surprised if you’re loved today for the same thing that brings out the haters tomorrow. People are stupid! But that’s the beauty of the Open Letter. All the power to say whatever we want, on the largest stage we choose, safely hidden behind a curtain even the Great Oz would envy.

In closing, let me leave you with some tips. After all, what is an Open Letter if not an excuse to give unsolicited advice and spout off opinions? So here’s what you should do:

1. Generalize, generalize, generalize. Don’t get all sloppy by looking at a person’s humanity. People really are all alike. At least other people.

2. Write now, think later. Don’t give yourself time to cool off; strike while the iron (and your temper) is hot!

3. Confront any– and everything that bugs you as if it’s The Most. Important. Thing. Open Letter to Grocery Shoppers? Do it! (And tell them to stop bogging down the express lane while you’re at it. I see them with their two items over the limit!)

4. Think family first. Don’t have an honest heart-to-heart with a family member. Instead, write them an Open Letter. There’s simply no need to try to gently confront someone with respect in order to open up lines of communi– oh, give me a break. I can’t even finish that! In truth, it’s more efficient to send the entire family the same letter and address all of your concerns in one neat and tidy missive. Besides, Grandma won’t see any of it anyway — she can’t figure out e-mail. Typical old person.

5. Play the blame game. Take zero responsibility and tell the world why none of your problems are your own fault. Everyone is fair game here, but be sure to touch on your spouse, your boss and your mom. On any given day, it’s likely the fault of one of those three.

6. Sign your letter with one final description of how you’re right and everyone else is wrong. Examples include, “Irritated driver behind person who wouldn’t get out of the fast lane on Highway 1 this morning,” or, “Guy who got no sleep because of neighbor’s barking dog.” Then there’s always the classic, “Furious in Fargo.”

7. Regarding the previous rule, always preface your closing with “Sincerely,” to remove the sting and hurtful tone of anything you just said.

To sum up: I don’t like you, Private Letters. I never have and I never will. The way you do things is wrong and if you’d only listen to me, life would be so much better (at least mine would). And if anyone tries to tell you that I’m wrong, remind them that I’m all about communication — that’s why they call me Open, duh.


A Thoughtful and Persuasive Open Letter