An Open Letter To Open Letters

Dear Open Letters,

You are neither open nor a letter.

You SEEM like you are open to everyone yet you are mostly posted only on websites where the readers will agree with you. (Except for the particular open letter you are reading, which was written on a website where the readers have written open letters and will proceed to take this personally. Probably.)

I don’t understand why you are not a closed letter in an envelope addressed to the proper offending company/person. That seems to be the audience who could actually DO something about your problem that inspired this letter of indignation and openness.

And speaking of too much openness, 90% of you open letters are a strange mix of rants and data interspersed with pseudoscience and conspiracy theories. You are rarely made of facts and verifiable sources.

You do seem quite open to playing on people’s fears and desires to have answers when there often are none. Your ability to not acknowledging the shades of gray complexity that require individual thought and action while still giving such a feel-good feeling, is exceedingly impressive.

Now, perhaps 1 in 1000 open letters will enrage people enough in the title and/or first paragraph to inspire 10,000 people to retweet and Facebook so they may raise their hands in a viral high-five of accomplishment.

And then go back to their closed lives of not doing a damn thing about much of anything except bathing and eating.

So I ask you, one open letter to another, let’s spend less time opening up and more time taking action.


PS. Actions you can take:


Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

16 thoughts to “An Open Letter To Open Letters”

  1. Ah, yes. The infamous open letter. I wish that trend would die like memes and chain-mail-like blog awards. It’s been done so much it’s almost impossible to pull off as original/hilarious/thought provoking. It’s usually just plain provoking.

    *not good*

  2. Huh.

    Okay, now I just feel stupid, because I have *no idea* what you’re talking about.

    Is that something used on political blogs or to address specific companies?

    Is this somehow related to the letters people write to their children? Which I always find somewhat strange they’ve decided to share with us instead of their children but I’ve never actually been offended enough to join a campaign against so I’m assuming it’s something else that I’ve just managed to remain terribly ignorant of.

  3. Can I just say I thought this was about McSweeney’s Open Letters? Which – wait – is it? Because those are the only open letters I read – and I am DYING to get one of mine published [particularly to my mailman, which, yes, I COULD send it in an envelope, but I don’t know his address, except RIGHT OUTSIDE MY HOUSE EVERY DAY FROM 1:00-2:00 READING MY MAGAZINES].

    What were we talking about?

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