Note: The actual Post-It note is at the bottom. The rest of this is as rambling as the letters it addresses.
A Brief History of Open Letters
You’ve no doubt seen the flurry lately of open letters, responses to open letters, and open letters to open letter writers. The “open letter” has a long and mostly ineffectual history (see below), and has always actually been more an act of egoism than anything; the writer for some reason takes on the imagined burden of speaking on behalf of millions, when in fact they’re just bitching and moaning about something that bothers them personally. Historically, this is why the open letter was fairly ineffective; unless you had access to a distribution method or were in an authoritative position in society from which to hurl your unsolicited opinions masked as a martyrous missive on behalf of the masses, your letter had little chance of being read.
Open Letters and the Internet
The internet has of course changed all this. In 2013, the web was awhirl with commentary about open letters to Miley Cyrus composed by Sinead O’Connor and Sufjan Stevens, including Amanda Palmer’s open letter to Sinead about her open letter to Miley. More recently, Talia Jane’s An Open Letter To My CEO inspired Stefanie Williams to write An Open Letter to Millennials Like Talia, and some guy named “Emey” to share A self-righteous open letter to people who write self-righteous open letters to people who write self-righteous open letters (that’s the actual post title).
The irony of all the attention these “open letters” are getting is manifold. First of all, none of them are letters. They’re blog posts, and most of the recent ones were on Medium. They would have been entirely masturbatory, if it weren’t for the fact that they were in fact brilliant click-bait. In fact, we might go so far as to say that the first in the string (Talia Jane’s) was more like a Facebook rant, and the first widely-shared response (Stefanie Williams’s) was like a windbag comment on the rant. If either of these bloggers had to actually write a letter, no-one would have read it. But thanks to social media, they’re deluded into thinking that what they say matters to someone, overlooking the fact that teens accidentally setting their genitals on fire can get as many Likes, shares, and page views as their “letters”.
For the record, we’d like to be clear about the fact that what you’re reading is not an open letter. It’s a freakin’ article/post on an obscure blog. Our Post-It note below is our “open letter”, and it was inspired by the incredible tedium and windbagginess of all these open letters. “An Open Letter To My CEO” clocked in at 2400 words. “An Open Letter to Millennials Like Talia…” was over 1800. We’d rag on Sara Lynn Michener’s 3000 word 36 year-old DESTROYS 29-year-old millennial who “ripped” 25-year-old Yelp employee who got fired after complaining about her salary, but it’s actually pretty goddamn funny, and doesn’t call itself an “open” letter.
So Here’s Our Open Letter To Open Letter Writers