This time last year, Joey's story went viral on Reddit. Joe had gone to the movies one night and by the time he got home, he had become the number one post on the Reddit feed due to his crazy story (the most memorable part being his 'Please Cut Here' tattoo). And before we knew it, Joe was doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) and had thousands of questions and comments that he had a hard time keeping up with.
That publicity is the reason we have ended up sharing so much of his story (it was never planned like that) and it was both the best and worst thing that could have happened. While we are so thankful, we've definitely learned a lot about how publicity is not all it's cracked up to be.
The pressure's on.
One of the biggest side effects of the publicity was the pressure. Not even the pressure of any one person in particular put on Joe, but the pressure of ALL of it. All eyes were on Joey. Not only to succeed, but to exceed all expectations. And more importantly, to not fail. A lot of what was posted at the time on his Facebook page was the triumphs that he made, not all the set-backs or the hard times that we went through.
Over time and through this blog, we've learned to open up more about some of those set backs but there is still a lot that Joe and I keep between us. While in my eyes, Joe is a superhero (I mean, come on, he has a bionic leg!), I still find myself reminding him to cut himself a little slack. And I think that's a good lesson for all of us. We are all SO hard on ourselves, that we don't give ourselves any grace to not do as well as we wanted or to take a step back to be more aware of what we really need rather than 'succeeding.' And what does 'succeeding' truly meant to us? We are constantly learning in this life and no one is perfect. We should all cut ourselves a little slack.
There's no privacy.
After Joe's surgery, it was such a personal time for Joe, myself and his family, both physically and emotionally. There's a lot of emotions that we go through, even now, and it's physically demanding to heal after surgery and literally get back up on your 'feet.' It was really hard at first to be dealing with all of that emotionally, and then to have to share it with the world. I'll admit, at first I had a really hard time sharing any of this within Reddit or within this blog; it was very unnatural for me.
Be careful what you post on Facebook.
Going viral is also a VERY true testament of why you HAVE to be careful about what you put on Facebook. There were only a few photos posted within Joe's Reddit post. A majority of the images used by news stations, websites, search engines and more were photos from our personal Facebook pages that we never gave consent to use. While most of those images were fine to use and we truly didn't mind, it was a huge eye opener to us that whatever we post on Facebook is open to the public to use.
People can be really mean.
People who don't know you or know enough about the situation are quick to judge and make rude comments. It was so hard not to take them personally. It has definitely changed my view and opinion of items you see online. The truth is, we don't always know the whole story, so who are we to judge anyone else for their actions or decisions? It's not our place.
Don't trust what you read online.
Half of the information out there is wrong. Some sites thought his name was 'Jake,' some got our ages wrong, some thought that I was Kaley or that Kaley was Joe's girlfriend and not his sister. No one called us to fact check or verify anything. They just used what they thought and went from there.
We reached so many more people than we could have imagined.
Joe was able to get in touch (and even meet) so many people who were going through similar things. We heard from tons of people who had the same rare joint disease as Joe or were looking at the possibility of amputation due to a different condition. Joe has mentored and helped so many people and he's so amazing at it. It's been really awesome seeing him bring a more positive light to amputation and prosthetics.
This would never have happened if it weren't for the story going viral, and it's these stories that make all the pressure and invasion of privacy worth it.
UNYQ is amazing.
UNYQ is a crazy cool company in San Francisco that makes custom covers for prosthetics. Joe mentioned wanting one in one of his answers on Reddit and the company made it happen by start a crowd funder to help Joe raise money for it. Joe's super excited to get it now that he has his first permanent leg back since the surgery.
We were on Buzzfeed.
Ok, so being on Buzzfeed was pretty cool and very surreal (I'm a HUGE Buzzfeed fan). They actually captured the essence of our journey the best and had the most correct facts (many places got a LOT of information wrong). I mean, it's Buzzfeed!
All in all, the publicity was a part of our journey and has become a part of our continual healing process. It isn't always easy; there are still moments where we wish there weren't so many people watching, but overall it's provided amazing opportunities and introduced to so many amazing people; and for that, we wouldn't change it for the world.