You don't get to see character

Interviews of VIPs in the media tend to feel inauthentic

In Summary

-Don’t flatter yourself on your character just yet


There’s something about personal interviews that I find shady, as in of doubtful honesty.

You know the interviews I’m talking about — those one-on-one interviews of captains of industry, successful business people, and even politicians that we see on TV, or read in magazines and newspapers.

Interviewees talk about themselves, who they are, their character and how that makes them what they are. There’s an air about these broadcasted tête-à-têtes that feels inauthentic.

I don’t have a problem with someone talking about what they’ve done and do professionally, their journey on how career-wise or business-wise they got from A to B. I mean that’s straight reporting of the facts. But this other self-assessment talk on character, I don’t buy it.

I am a cynic, yes, but one truth about people is we don’t tell all about ourselves, especially not about our weaknesses, our faults, our mistakes or our fears.

The only people who sort of do, or at least come close to revealing everything about themselves, are recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, individuals who’ve had psychological issues but are on the mend, and those who’ve recently come out of the closet. And they do it for therapeutic reasons more than anything else.

Character is the good, the bad and the ugly about us. Add on to that… Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking – H Jackson Brown, Jr. A television interview doesn’t quite fall under the no-one-is-looking category.

‘Your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are’ – so said John Wooden. And it is this, reputation, what others think you are, that we get to see in a one-on-one personal interview.

Reputation is the shadow. Character is the tree. – Abraham Lincoln.

I’m not saying these personal interviews consciously set out to mislead. At least I don’t think they do. I just believe in the possibility that character is not quite as visible as we think it is; not even our own character is visible to ourselves. Personality, yes; whether you’re funny or boring is clear for all to see. Character, on the other hand, whether you’re evil, good, or whatever, you don’t get to see that, until you do. I’ll explain that with a quote and a story.

In each of us there is another whom we do not know – Carl Jung. That’s the quote.

The story is about lion mama. Back in 2017, Nokubonga Qampi, a woman in her late 50s from a village in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, become known as Lion Mama after she killed one of the three men raping her daughter and seriously injured the other two. She did it with a kitchen knife when she walked in on the men and they confronted her.

Nokubonga was recently interviewed by the BBC about the incident, and one of the things she said with remorse was that she never imagined herself as someone who could stab another human being, let alone kill anyone with a knife.

In each of us there is another…

I guess what I’m saying is don’t flatter yourself on your character just yet. There is the other in each of us whom we do not know, who only time and circumstances will reveal.