Monday, April 23, 2012

How to Write a Passive-Aggressive Letter

There are times in life when a situation requires a passive-aggressive letter. I, personally, have experienced several of these dilemmas since I moved into the dorms. Passive-aggressive letters are appropriate and necessary for a number of situations, usually involving slight annoyances and a desire to minimize drama and offense and maximize the chances that you can resist murdering anyone.  Now, because brilliant sarcasm does not always come naturally, I have written for you a basic guide to writing your very own passive aggressive letter. Please note the first example below.

Step 1.      The intro.  When addressing the target party, be sure to make an extremely general address (even though everyone will know who it is talking about) This allows you to feign ignorance if called out.  You can also begin with something to the effect of "To whoever is leaving socks that reek like the pit of Hell on the floor" (insert your own particular crime or annoyance).  This introduces a bit of humor to begin with and could allow you to express your true feelings on the matter without being too terribly offensive.

Step 2.      The body.  Obviously, now that you have grabbed the attention in a good, general, introduction, there are several different techniques you can use to get your point across.

                          A. Personification. This can be seen in the second sentence of example #1.  Make your English teacher proud and redirect the attention from you, pretending as though the offense itself is the protester, not you.

                                B. Provide overly simplistic directions to accomplish the desired result, as seen in example #1.  If you wish, you can even cite the steps from a source such as, just be sure to add a sarcastic twist to the original direction.  While giving a slightly patronizing air, the steps also ensure that the person sincerely does realize how to accomplish the task.

C. Exaggeration. This is demonstrated in point 4 of example #1 and the first paragraph of example #2.  You can clearly never go wrong with making the connection between the end of the world and the behavior you're trying to put an end to.

Example #2

D.  Threats.  This is demonstrated at the end of example #2.  Just note that all threats should be humorous because if the person were to be murdered you don’t want the police to find documentation of a threat of violence that had been written by you (I watch enough crime shows to think of these things.) Also remember that this is a passive-aggressive letter…not just an aggressive letter.

                                  E. Stylization. This is most strongly demonstrated in example #2.   This is a quick way to ensure that your hostility is masked by light-hearted feelings.  This technique also allows you to use words that are not necessarily real, which is always a good time for the writer.

Step 3. The ending.  Remember to end in a way that is not only a call to action, but also humorous, to prevent hostility towards you as the writer.  Because believe it or not, not everyone appreciates the great art of sarcasm.   

                I know. It’s tragic

Now that you have learned my secrets to writing a passive-aggressive letter, I urge you to write responsibly, for sarcasm often falls upon deaf ears.  And also, I would love to read your passive aggressive letters, so feel free to send them to me.

P.S. To my lovely roommate/suitemates, my letters were not written out of annoyance, but out of a love for the underappreciated art of sarcastic writing. But seriously, if you don’t take out the trash, I WILL let Cletus Oglethorpe the demon fish loose on you…

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