I make confrontive art about sexuality focused on hookups and mental health. My project Open Letters to the Men of Craigslist is work I love and am afraid of. AMA!

Alison Bergblom Johnson
May 15, 2018

I create environments to listen to pre-recorded stories about Craigslist, hookups, and bipolar disorder. In the context of the new SESTA/FOSTA law, Craigslist personals are gone. My current work focuses on a Memorial to Craigslist.

Website: http://alisonbergblomjohnson.com/openletters/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/openletterstomenofcl/

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Do students sometimes use your content for research purposes?
May 18, 1:33AM EDT0
Do you do a lot of research and fact-checking prior to releasing new stories?
May 17, 7:59PM EDT0
Without identifying who you’re writing the letters to, has anyone ever reached out to you and told you that they feel like they’re the person you wrote about?
May 17, 6:54PM EDT0
Do you edit your own work or do you prefer hiring an editor?
May 17, 2:55PM EDT0
What is the aspect of bipolar disorder that you think most people have diifficulty understanding?
May 16, 10:20PM EDT0

That it's a changeable condition by it's very nature, when it's uncontrolled people with it bounce from highs to lows. But even that people get better with dilligence and good care is something many people don't believe.


May 17, 5:03PM EDT0
Were you ever subjected to cyberbullying because of the content of your writing? If yes, how did you deal with it?
May 16, 8:32PM EDT0

I'm really lucky in that I have not been. To be honest I expected to be. I'm not sure how I would react, but Zoë Quinn and Roxane Gay are role models in how to handle it.

May 17, 5:01PM EDT0
What does your family think of you bearing it all online like that?
May 16, 11:17AM EDT0

Hi Joshua,

Short answer is my dad shared an article about this on his own Facebook page with my permission, and it was his own idea. 

I think some of my extended family are less okay with it, which is okay. We're Minnesotans, so that means they don't ever mention it.

May 16, 4:51PM EDT0
How do you generate income from writing these open letters?
May 16, 8:40AM EDT0
What is the letter that has been most difficult to write and why?
May 16, 12:39AM EDT0

They're all a challenge to write in some way, usually because it's hard to wrap my head around the craft demands of each piece. Ultimately it's the craft piece that make them easier to write, still, the piece that was hardest to write was about an assault. 

May 16, 4:53PM EDT0
Would you say that crimes related to Craigslist caused the personal posts to decline?
May 15, 11:11PM EDT0

I hesitate to use the word decline. They were closed because of legislation (FOSTA/SESTA) that I think will fail to succeed in its aims of decreasing trafficking, and make people who are seeking hookups and sex workers less safe. 

Years ago, there was a separate sexual services section of Craigslist, and that made casual encounters more about hooking up. Personally if the word decline is to be used, I think that closing the sexual services section and the movement of people using it onto casual encounters muddied the waters a lot.



May 16, 4:56PM EDT0
What are your personal opinion of SESTA/FOSTA law?
May 15, 11:10PM EDT0


Great question, my opinion is that SESTA/FOSTA is attractive/low-hanging fruit in that it allocates no new money for survivors of sex trafficking, but will drive trafficking underground, and make it harder for law enforcement to be aware of it. Also it will make it harder for law enforcement to do stings, and therefore will do nothing to diminish demand for such victims. I also think it will make sex workers and those seeking hook ups less safe in that they will have a harder time screening people they might meet up with in person.

May 16, 5:00PM EDT0
How to deal with a family member who has bipolar disorder?
May 15, 6:33PM EDT0


This is such a hard question. As a person with bipolar, I found the most effective things family and friends did was ot stay in touch with me, communicate they cared about me, make suggestions but not ultimatums, ask how taking meds and therapy were going. Treating this part of my life gently, but persistently helped a lot.

Good luck!


May 16, 5:02PM EDT0
Would you ever consider compiling your open letters into a book?
May 15, 4:52PM EDT0


Possibly, sometime in the future, but it's not something I'm actively pursuing.

Thanks for the question.


May 16, 5:03PM EDT0
How to know if you have bipolar disorder and you’re not just plain moody?
May 15, 2:38PM EDT0

Hi,While bipolar disorder is a mood disorder and can be associated with irritability, it isn't only being moody. On one of the poles of the disorder is depression and on the other end is mania. Mania is characterized by pressured speech, racing thoughts, feeling on the top of the world, spending money very freely, and doing things one wouldn't ordinarily do, particularly in terms of hypersexuality.

If you're wondering about bipolar the best person to diagnose it is a credentialed psychologist or psychiatrist.


May 16, 5:06PM EDT0
What has been your last subject of art that you have worked on? Where can people find it?
May 15, 11:12AM EDT0

Prior to this I was working on a family memoir that turned into a performance, unfortunately it is unavailable. The current work can be found on my Patreon.

May 16, 5:08PM EDT0
How do you think people should treat someone with bipolar disorder? What's the best way to be around a bipolar disorder patient?
May 15, 3:48AM EDT0


Just like you would anybody else. I also wouldn't use the word patient unless the person is your patient, though others may have other opinions. 


May 16, 5:10PM EDT0
What sort of impact do you think audio releases have on a person than the visual or written work?
May 14, 10:16PM EDT0


I think it's both more intense, but also more private and allows a person to have an individual experience, versus in an audience of a show or on the page.


May 16, 5:11PM EDT0
Do you believe that everyone in life has a purpose?
May 11, 3:12PM EDT0


I don't think anyone has a purpose. We're here, are human beings, and are greater than a particular utility.  I do think people with mental disabilities including people with bipolar are just as valuable as anyone else.


May 16, 5:13PM EDT0
After learning about other's stories and mental health concern, what is the biggest myth regarding mental illness?
May 11, 8:18AM EDT0


The biggest myth is that people with severe symptoms will never get back to stability, productivity, and happiness.


May 16, 5:14PM EDT0
What are some positive things readers have told you about your writings?
May 11, 4:35AM EDT0

Hi Kaltrina Bunjaku,

The most positive feedback I've gotten is about how my work has helped someone understand something about themselves or about people in their life.



May 15, 8:49AM EDT0
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