The Open Letter

Six months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what an open letter is. Today, I see them sprinkled all over the Internet. What I’ve learned is this:

Open Letter = Ouch

I have yet to read an open letter that says nice things. Maybe it’s because, like most humans, negativity stands out more than positivity when I’m sifting through the eternal feeds of read this, read this, read this! Or maybe it’s because open letters written to people who have done something commendable are just not en vogue.

Who hasn’t said something one day, and looked back on it the next day and thought, “Oh, why did I say that? I don’t even believe that.”

It happens to me, say, once a week. I say too much, or I say something that makes me look dumb or self-absorbed. I wonder what people must think. I wonder why I can’t think a second longer before I blurt stuff out.

In the moment, we all sometimes say things just to answer a question, to fill an awkward silence, or because our mind is trying hard to make us look good.

I’m trying to imagine what it would be like to be famous. I think I would need a publicist living in my house, because I don’t think I could figure out what to say or what not to say.

I would do take-backsies all the time, but unfortunately my words would be floating around the Internet, and people would build a momentum of outrage and find my words more and more despicable. Before I would know it, a scathing open letter would arrive not in my mailbox, not even in my inbox, but in the eternal feed of all of my friends and followers.

Well darn. Guess I shouldn’t have said that.

Being called out in public must suck. I can imagine it would lead to feelings of shame and fear. Shame of having your imperfections exposed, and fear of speaking freely in case you screw up again.

Instead of more open letters, perhaps we need more private letters. Instead of shaming people publicly, we could use what is said by public figures to discuss what we believe and stand for with people we care about. Instead of vehemently disagreeing with people, we could try to see it from their point of view, and remember that they are just people.