I was thinking about my own blog and I do believe that some of my old posts could be construed as oddly formatted open letters. Were some of my open letter-type posts obvious to others, even if I didn’t see them as such? For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about or why I would even bring it up, get your Google on for the what and know that the why is my way of trying to respond to the open emails, messages and letters I have received as of late.
The concept of the formal open letter, or as I’m going to call it the OL for short, fascinates me, yet it also makes me uncomfortable. I’ve made a list of pros and cons of the overt OL format, in order to help myself understand and decide whether I should utilize the OL overtly, instead of covertly in the form of a blog post.
I love a good list, don’t you? It’s like a cool debate without having to deal with a clueless moderator wearing a cheap suit who tells bad jokes. But I digress.
Open Letter: The Pros and Cons -
Pro: The OL is specific with regard to topic, yet reaches a broad audience.
Con: The OL is often a vessel for passive aggressive snark, which in my opinion, is a cowardly choice.
Pro: The OL makes the writer feel safe when needing to unleash a veritable vomit of feelings and sometimes facts, in a forum that can serve as a much-needed buffer between them and the intended recipient (or recipients).
Con: The OL is most often created when the writer is in a snit about something, which can make the whole letter seem like more of a maniacal rant, than a well thought out attempt at sharing (think Amanda Bynes on Twitter).
Pro: Level of specificity allows for plausible deniability when confronted by the intended target.
Example - “I totally wasn’t writing about you! I swear. Gawd you are so paranoid….pfffth….”
Con: The writer of the OL’s attempt to conceal the specific target of letter is so weak and pathetic; the purpose of using the format is lost.
Example - “As the mother of an autistic child, it’s shameful that you aren’t the using your power to pulverize the hair salon in the news that is being singled out and vilified for an allegedly negative interaction with the mother of an autistic child.” (*Quote not actually a quote, but a summary of open/closed letters directed at ol’Nikki)
So here I am, back where I started!
Do I use my blog voice to address topics in a way that could be considered the metaphorical fraternal twin of the OL? Yup. I do. But should I use the formal open letter to respond to specific queries in a broad way?
Hmmm…thinking. Still thinking.....
In keeping with the spirit of informality and independence my blog has always enjoyed, I don’t think I will regularly engage in the formal open letter process, nor will I use my social media platform to address the plethora of issues that are suggested to be by readers who are banging down my door, (okay – email inbox) no matter how relevant or important I feel this topic to be, unless I decided to do so and I do so in my voice.
Yet today my voice comes in the form of an open letter, not because I’m in a snit, but because I feel the pros outweigh the cons in this case and I’m far too lazy to reply to all the emails and messages I have received with regard to this issue over the years (and in the last 24 hours – sheesh!).
I will continue to use my voice to directly address things that I feel I can responsibly discuss using the format I have always preferred, using humor and hard-facts. I will not use my voice in a polarizing or provocative way with regard to political platforms or personal causes. This will never, ever change.
I believe that the most responsible use of my voice, my blog and my social media platform is to provoke thought, provide relief and refuge for the weary, and to encourage productive and positive conversation with regard to issues that affect us as people of the world.
I will continue to be a voice of reason – reliable, yet ridiculous and always aware that it comes with a large amount of responsibility when it comes to the content I choose to provide readers.
I thank you for trusting me with your requests and asking me to be your voice, yet I have a request for you as well. If you are really listening to me, you know that I can’t be your voice without sacrificing my own. I can’t help you find your voice, nor can I help you amplify it by disguising it as mine. You have to find your way.
Be your own voice. But also please know that just because you don’t hear mine in response, it doesn’t mean I’m not listening to yours. I am.
Warmly, snuggly, swearily and snarkily yours,
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