Exposing My Self

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Exposing My Self

Everyone puts themselves on the line online, but could personal disclosure hurt my professional career?

As long as I’m careful enough, everything will be okay, I thought. Obsessively combing over each line, I tweaked a sentence here, added a clarification there.

I’ll just send it to somebody to make sure it’s all right, I thought. I emailed it to a writer friend, someone who had been there during the surreal period of time that the story covered.

‘Take out the bit about the Nazis,’ she said.

‘But the Milgram experiments were inspired by the…’ I said.

‘Elaine, you just can’t,’ she said. ‘People will be, like, WOAH.’

(To paraphrase Coco Chanel, before you and your story leave the house, look hard at yourself in the mirror and take one thing off. In my piece about new motherhood, breastfeeding rhetoric and submission to authority, Nazis were that one thing.)

Maybe now it’s fine, I thought. While I may not control Medium, I’d done my utmost to control the message. But with the cursor lying on ‘Publish,’ my fingers hovered a millimetre above the trackpad of my laptop. I could feel my heart hammering in my chest and hear the progress of the second hand on the analog wall clock, its sound suddenly amplified. Tick, tick, tick.

Why was my every sense heightened? Like everyone else using the Internet, I’m now accustomed to a level of daily disclosure that would have been unimaginable two decades ago. I bash out status updates and publish tweets as regularly and casually as I brush my teeth; my flexor tendons twitch with the early symptoms of ‘smartphone thumb’. But this was another matter. Clocking in at a 13-minute read, this piece was a damn sight longer than a 280-character tweet or a Facebook post about my chickens, but it wasn’t the word length that was the real difference here. This was a rebellion. I was poised on the brink of disrupting not just my personal privacy boundaries, but my professional ones too.

Fortune, it is said, favours the brave. But my livelihood depends on how well I maintain the dividing lines between personal and professional. I could be brave, but would it throw my fortunes into decline?

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Elaine KasketComment