Assignment: Write a sincere letter to a real person you don't see every day, and then send it. (This assignment was given when the regular teacher wasn't there, and a teacher I had for other classes was substituting.)
April 9, 2009
Dear [teacher of the class] and/or [substitute teacher of the class],
I don't know which one of you had the idea to have us write an actual letter and send it as a writing assignment (it sounds like something [substitute teacher of the class] might do, but I could be wrong), but I have some serious issues with it.
First of all, if I write a letter to someone, I'm not just telling them the things contained in the letter; I'm also suggesting to them that I thought to write it of my own accord and, to a lesser extent, that I decided on this format of my own accord. Seeing as this is an assignment, and seeing as there is no one who I would write to of my own accord within the parameters of the assignment, I feel that sending such a letter as an assignment would be dishonest (and also possibly confusing) to its recipient.
Secondly, the requirements both to have a letter in the first place and to have a specific length I believe go against my beliefs regarding effective communication by decreasing the signal-to-noise ratio too much. In other words, there is only so much (possibly nothing) that I have to tell them that's meaningful; the rest would either be needless wordiness and embellishing, or it would be meaningless chatter of the type I dislike (for instance, "Hi, how was your weekend? My weekend was boring. All I did was..."). This type of thing wastes their time, distracts from any meaningful conversation I may have with them (in the letter or elsewhere), and makes it look like I'm the kind of person who would do that (which I'm not).
Thirdly, I feel that when I communicate with someone, there is an implicit agreement that anything they tell me (including things which they've said or done in the past which I could talk about in the letter) and anything I tell them that relates to them is kept between us and is not shared with anyone else. If this is done for an assignment, that seriously limits what I can say (anything that I wouldn't mind others seeing I'd communicate some more public way, like a website), and may be untrustworthy. In addition, anything I write will be less sincere if other people can read it.
Therefore, I think that almost anything I do for this assignment will be insincere and/or dishonest. All communication I do must be of my own accord and on my terms.
chri d. d.
P.S. While this letter does seem to bend the rule about "someone you don't see every day", it is, in fact, a sincere letter, and I hope it will be accepted.
P.P.S. In accordance with point three, I find it necessary to point out that I have another copy of this letter which I may choose to share with others.