return to sender

Dear people who write open letters,

Please stop. No one is listening. Or reading. Certainly not the people to whom you claim to be writing these letters.  I get it. Just as orange is the new black these open letters are the new top ten lists. Huffington Post and Buzzfeed and every upstart website loves them. They are the lazy writer’s new best friend. These open letters guarantee you retweets and shares and at least a few pats on the back from people who are equally as lazy an independent thinker as you are an original writer.

And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?  You’re a lazy writer. Rather than gather facts and then organize your ideas into a well thought out, reasoned essay you …write a letter. How very 1947 of you. Miss Manners and Dear Abby would be ever so proud. But here is my question: if you write a letter and no one reads it did you actually write a letter?

I mean, am I even writing this letter?

I have a suggestion. The next time (five minutes from now) someone offends you or the latest social issue ruffles your feathers rather than chasing the ghost how about you take a moment and put your thoughts into a well written essay.

And failing that, please, at least have the balls to confront the person you’re addressing face to face.


A friend

Sean Michael O’Donnell is the author of the best-selling memoir Which One of You is the Mother?