The Consequences of Being Too Public

I have a bad habit of being very open about myself. Normally this isn’t such a terrible trait for a person to have but but when you’ve put yourself out there in some very public ways like I have, there are unintended and unexpected consequences. I keep this blog because I’m told that people in my field need to keep up their “personal brand” and so I come here and I write mostly about programming but occasionally about my personal life. No big deal. I get to control how the information is presented and I can go back and delete or edit it at any time. But I’ve also given out a lot more personal information to reporters than maybe I should have and that’s where I begin to lose control over the messaging. I’ve never been portrayed badly by any of the media outlets that I’ve spoken to but after the stories are published information gets shared around the web in unexpected and sometimes unflattering ways. I never had a problem talking about some of the mistakes I’ve made before. They’re ancient history as far as I’m concerned and I’m not the same person I was when I made them. But try explaining that to someone who hasn’t gotten the opportunity to get to know you better and finds out some of these things right off the bat. I’m beginning to feel the effects of being too public.

Last summer I was invited on CNN to speak with Don Lemon about my experience when I was using drugs and to help promote HERO. I thought nothing of it at the time and my employer didn’t seem to mind. Now, a year later, the video of me on CNN is associated with my name. Googling for my name will bring it up and now I’m beginning to regret some of the public statements I’ve made about myself.

I don’t do interviews for attention or fame or just to get on TV or the radio or in the newspaper. I do it because people have told me that sharing my experiences give hope to other people who are in a similar situation that I was in. I want people to have that and if it means I have to admit that I made some stupid decisions when I was younger then so be it. In the past few days, however, I’ve started to wonder if my very public statements have hurt my chances in some very specific situations that I don’t care to mention right now. They’re not bad, just personal.

Interviews with me have been published countless times in the past year or so, I’ve been on television at least twice, and did my first radio interview a few months ago. All were great experiences. But now those same appearances have been cut up and republished elsewhere, sometimes out of context, sometimes to make a point I don’t endorse and now I worry if I’ve hurt myself in the long run and I wonder if I’ve disappointed some of those people who I’m told are inspired by “my story”.

I don’t know the answer, but I think the fact that I had to ask the question means there’s a problem. I’m going to ride out the next month and see what develops. I may stop doing interviews for a while.


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