When I first started writing this column, I had no idea how important it would become to me or what impact it would have on my life, but I can say without hesitation that I have no regrets about the past two years.
Love me or hate me, that part never really mattered. To be honest, I rarely read the comments because after just a few blogs were posted it became apparent that I would take the comments too seriously and I would let it affect the topics I wrote about and what I had to say.
Just as I was debating how to sign off as Sarah, I came across this article on CNN.com and I knew that this last blog had to be not just about what this experience meant to me as a writer, but what it meant to me as an anonymous someone, putting herself out there to be criticized by anonymous somebodies.
It's easy to be cruel to people and express hatred when you are anonymous and, in this case, I believe that was compounded by the fact that I was anonymous as well. Yes, that is a real picture of me, but no one, even my closest friends, knew it was me prior to my telling them so. My real name isn't Sarah Foster. So I can see why it's easy for people to say whatever comes to mind to a person they don't have to look in the eyes, or even think of as a real person.
The Internet has changed our lives in so many great ways. We can immediately learn about events taking place around the world and we can instantly keep in touch with friends and family. We have the power to communicate our thoughts with millions of people. It all depends on who is paying attention and whether we choose to use that power for good or for hatred.
Putting yourself in the public eye, no matter how big or how small, means you open yourself up for the criticism of people that think they know everything about you, despite the fact that you are perfect strangers. We feel the freedom to say whatever comes to our minds because, although we know the people we are criticizing are real enough to have opinions, they are not real enough to have emotions.
Honestly, I'm glad that people chose to write back and share their opinions on so many of my blogs. I think as it stands, my top three blogs were about Anal Sex, Universal Health Care and my interview with a Mistress. Guess I could have assumed people would get fired up over those topics, and I was happy to spark the conversations. I respect people that stand up for their convictions, whether I agree with you or not. This country is founded on the belief that we are all free to think and say what we want to.
I understand why people would want to write back and put in their two cents or argue their points; those three topics all deserve a lot of conversation. What I don't understand is how people feel calling me a fag lover somehow strengthens their argument against gay marriage. All that language does is prove, over and over, that you have no argument and that you are indeed a bigot.
If you want to argue with me over health care, adultery, anal sex, Brett Favre, gay marriage, or anything else I wrote about, let's do just that. Let's talk about the topics and why we agree or disagree. Whether or not you hate me doesn't really matter to me or hold any water in the scope of the discussion. If you hate me, that's your business, but why waste your time telling me that rather than explaining your side of the dispute?
That doesn't just apply to relationship bloggers, it applies to anyone discussing politics, sports, entertainment, what have you.
During and after the NFC Championship Game against the Packers, Jay Cutler was ripped apart in tweets and emails. Fans, the sports media and even fellow NFL players were making accusations about his commitment to his team and the game. In one interview afterward, he was asked about the intense speculation and Cutler actually got emotional and had to turn away from the camera.
Now, Jay Cutler is a hard example to use in Wisconsin where he is hated for any number of reasons, but my point in using his situation is, people felt like they could say the most awful things about him because they didn't have to say it to his face and see the pain they were creating. People attacked not only his playing in the game or this season, but his commitment, and his personality. When some celebrities were called out to explain their insults, they instantly started treading water and trying to say that things were taken out of context. Go figure! When they had to actually stop and think about what they'd said, and they knew Cutler along with the rest of the world had seen their comments, it wasn't so easy to be cruel and critical.
We send these messages out to the universe hoping so many people will notice, but hoping no one will call us out on our words or nastiness. No one but Cutler and the doctors looking at his injuries know the extent of what happened and on top of it, no matter what we think we know about someone just because we're watching them on television, we have no idea what was going through his mind at the end of that game.
That's what this is really all about. We think that because we follow someone on Twitter we know them. We think because we watch someone on television, we know them. We say what we want to, faster than ever before, often times before we've truly thought through what we're saying, and we give little to no regard to the fact that we're not talking to an inanimate object, we're talking to or about a person. And as I said, when all you have to say is "I hate you" "you're stupid" "you should lose your job" all you're really saying is, "I have nothing intelligent or of substance to say, but I want some attention so I'm gonna say what I think will sting the most."
I don't mean that we all need to follow the rules from childhood that "if we don't have anything nice to say we shouldn't say anything at all." Rather, if you don't have anything nice to say, say something constructive, say something smart, say something to get people thinking. And if you can't do any of those things, then yes, don't say anything at all.
So, just like in the CNN article, I too have come to the conclusion that we should get together, you and me, face to face so you can look me in the eyes and say the things you said to the anonymous, faceless person you wrote to under your fake name while living in your mom's basement. Let's talk about why you hate gays, minorities and the poor, and why I don't. The next time you're at Alterra, Comet or the gym, look around. I could be the person standing next to you.
In closing, I would like to thank all the people that left me intelligent, thought-provoking, constructive messages and comments. Even if we didn't agree, articulate comments often made their way back to me through friends that read them and passed along the best of the best. Thank you for the memories, the lessons and the laughs.
No, the OnMilwaukee.com sex columnist's real name is not Sarah Foster. (Foster is the model/actress that played an ex-lover of Vincent Chase in the first season of "Entourage.") In reality, our sex columnist is a Wisconsin native with a degree in journalism and a knack for getting people to talk to her.
Sarah never considered herself an "above average" listener. Others, however, seem to think differently. Perhaps she has a sympathetic tone or expression that compels people to share their lives and secrets with her despite how little they know her. Everyone from the girl that does her hair to people in line at the grocery store routinely spill the details of their lives and relationships to Sarah, unprompted but typically not unwanted. It’s strange to her that people would do this, but she doesn’t mind. Sarah likes that she can give advice even if it is to complete strangers.
So why the pseudonym? Simple. People tell Sarah these things because for some reason they trust her. They believe she cares and therefore will keep their secrets in a locked vault the same way a best friend or therapist would. Sarah won't name names, but that vault is now unlocked.