Why are people more willing to give comprehensive and high quality answers on Quora compared to Yahoo! Answers?
Can one be considered a libertarian if they do not agree with the legalization of marijuana, but agree with the rest of the platform?
People who stick solely to party lines are the problem with this country and democratic republics in general.
Why would you shove an electric toothbrush up your ass before doing drugs?
Regular toothbrush isn’t doing it for you anymore?
What is it like to be a whistle-blower?
When I blew the whistle, the first realization I had was that I now have backend access into the mind of a whistleblower. I never again have to wonder what a whistleblower would think or do, why they act, and how it happens, because it became my 24/7 life.
Being a whistleblower sucks on a variety of levels, to be perfectly frank.and did a great job of painting the overall picture of depression and negativity experienced by a whistleblower. I suppose the best value I can do as a point of data is provide a little personal perspective on how those negative consequences come to be…
About three months prior to successfully leaking internal banking documents to the media and government through Anonymous, I called my mom and asked her to come visit. I told her what I planned to do, and, as I write this nearly 6 years later, I can still perfectly visualize the look on her face as she asked me why I have to be the one to do it.
I had no answer, because to this day I still have no idea why I have to be the one to do it.
A month later, I pondered if my cause was worth it as I sat in my room at night, staring at my computer while my house was surrounded by police, facing a prison sentence for a crime I was falsely accused of by the bank.
They didn’t get me behind bars that night…but I did spend last Christmas and New Years in Maricopa County’s Tent City jail after a defamation lawsuit stemming from my leak. I named an executive, and he obtained a default judgment. I was held in contempt and spent a few months in jail.
These are just a couple stories of my run-ins with law enforcement in my years as a whistleblower…
I still remember the night before my leak to the media. I still get butterflies in my stomach (or mild anxiety, PTSD, or whatever you want to call it) thinking about how scary it was to “come out” as a whistleblower. Having worked in media for the last few years, I’m now experienced enough to see the humor in some of my misconceptions at the time of what I was about to go through.
When you think of a whistleblower, you typically think of someone like Edward Snowden, whose high profile leak made him a seemingly overnight success. The media perception is that you just expose a wrong, the system takes you seriously, public groups rally behind you, and within the course of a 2-hour Hollywood story arc, the system picks up your fight against the bank.
Hollywood has a knack for telling stories in a certain manner…
What happened in my life is I found myself suddenly disconnected from the community around me. I was 30 years old and worked in the financial sector most of my adult life. Now I’m blacklisted and cut off from all but the bravest of my former coworkers and colleagues.
The bank told everyone to stop associating with me, and compelled most employees to do so. I exist there only as a ghost.
Even the term whistleblower is an interesting one to me. If you’re an architect, you go to work every day and work as an architect. Whistleblower isn’t a career like that. You go to court or jail or in front of a regulatory committee for a day or two, then spend 350 days learning to survive and live a day-to-day life when you’re blacklisted.
Friends and family love me and are always polite, but there comes a point when what’s weighing heavily on your mind is some normal daily worry about your job, family, etc., and I can’t stop focusing on this amazing, nigh-all-consuming experience that happened in my life and sounds like a tinfoil hat conspiracy.
I’ve worked through that part now and learned to separate these fantastic and unique experiences in my “work life” from the ground-level view of my “personal life,” which becomes increasingly harder as I progress down my chosen career path.
I’ve essentially driven myself insane through whistleblowing. The act separated me from the herd and, in the years that followed, I believed in a different reality than everyone else.
I still believe in a reality in which I exposed crimes the bank committed, but, since nobody has gone to jail, it’s not the reality you believe. That’s the funny thing about how magic truly works in life. A single criminal judge’s expressed opinion could change an entire world’s perspective of me.
Until that day, I have to deal with the fact that my reality isn’t the same as yours, and that puts me in constant danger of being committed, jailed, or killed.
These days I write about video games, cannabis, and tech. When I got out of jail, I sold the story of the experience to High Times, and it’ll appear in their January issue (printing October). Then I went to E3 and experienced virtual reality, stopped by EDC to dance the night away, drove to the Cannabis Cup to get high, and spent the rest of the summer camping in Oregon, as they celebrated cannabis decriminalization.
My life is nothing like it was when I worked for the banks, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but not everyone is comfortable being stigmatized as a whistleblower.
Not everyone can find a reason to smile when they’re a perfectly sensible human being that looks crazy to everyone else (including those they love).
Not everyone has the stomach for constantly having to defend their lives and beliefs.
I do, and that’s why I became a whistleblower.
Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work has appeared on BBC, Fast Company, High Times, Huffington Post, The Street, and Hardcore Droid.