Open Letters – A Beginner’s Guide to Passive Aggression

At the moment my news feed seems to be choked full of those ultimate expressions of passive-aggression. Yes I’m talking about the Open Letter. You’ve all seen them. Open letters to everyone from redneck, hateful political leaders (which I’ve got to concede are actually quite good) through to the guy that stole your parking space. They’re everywhere, and us parent bloggers seem to be the most serial of offenders. In the past week I’ve seen open letters to the mum who shamed the other mum. Open letters to the mum who shamed the dad. Open letters to the dad who doesn’t appreciate the mum. Open letters to the husband who told his wife to get a job. Open letter from said wife back to the husband telling him to go and f*ck himself. Everyone with a keyboard and the slightest sense of outrage seems to be doing it.

Given that it’s almost as popular as Pokemon Go at the moment, I thought it might be useful to pull together a guide for outraged parents on how to write your own open letter. This is for those that want to be indignant about something in a completely passive aggressive manner, and just aren’t quite sure how to begin. With Dadding Every Day’s simple 5 step guide to writing open letters, you too can share your outrage, without ever actually having to confront the cause in person.

Step 1 – Do something mildly controversial to attract judgement. For us dads, it can be as simple as taking your kids to a local park and attempting to mingle with the gaggle of mums.  Or perhaps try pushing a stranger’s child on the swing. Alternatively, you can try to use the parents’ room at the local shopping centre. These places are absolute goldmines for controversy on so many different levels.

Step 2 – Look for a reaction. Take the time to carefully scrutinise the responses of those around you and make sure to search for the slightest signs of judgement or indignation. This could be as little as a raised eyebrow; a tut tutting; a silent exchange between fellow judgers or perhaps some under the breath muttering. If you can’t seem to elicit the desired reaction, then it’s perfectly ok to just imagine that the judgement is there instead. Remember – just because you can’t see it happening, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t judging you.

Step 3 – Smile politely at the alleged offender, say nothing and go about your business. Do not, under any circumstances confront the cause of your outrage directly, lest that person recognise their misplaced judgement and apologise. This will mean you’ve failed and you have to go all the way back to Step 1.

Step 4 – Once you’ve secured the desired response from mildly judgemental bystander, rush home, sit down at your computer, and allow the furious indignation to pour from your fingertips onto your keyboard. Smartphone use is also acceptable for your vent, although beware of the autocorrect function lest you inadvertently say something nice about someone. Note that a good open letter needs to have a catchy opening line like “To the woman who shamed the man about the girl who shamed the boy…”, or “To the person who smirked at my nipples…”

Step 5 – Publish. Then sit back and wait for the equally outraged readers to share in your outrage. Encourage the spouting of furious vitriol as they share their own experiences of perceived judgement in the comment thread. The more passive aggressive the better of course.

You’ll know when you’re really onto a winner when someone you’ve never met, and will never get to confront, writes an open letter in response – outraged at your outrage.


*cover image source