Google Some Public Embarrassment

    July 18, 2005

There’s a story in yesterday’s New York Times where the writer discusses her nanny’s blog, and the tawdry sexual exploits contained within.

OUR former nanny, a 26-year-old former teacher with excellent references, liked to touch her breasts while reading The New Yorker and often woke her lovers in the night by biting them. She took sleeping pills, joked about offbeat erotic fantasies involving Tucker Carlson and determined she’d had more female sexual partners than her boyfriend.

Now, while it is just plain stupid to discuss your sex life in any public forum, at least not if you want to have a respectable life, the only thing worse than that would be having it discussed in The New York Times! Most bloggers would love a mention in the Times, but not one that discusses their bisexuality, alcohol consumption and abortion.

Alex Halavais says it took him mere minutes, using Google+Search”>quotes from the story plugged into Google, to find the nanny’s blog.

What right does some writer looking to fill some column inches in the Sunday edition, have to discuss a private citizen’s sex life in a national forum? Did Helaine Olen believe that, as long as the nanny’s name and URL were left out of the story, it was all okay?

Did the nanny sign off on the story? No, in fact she argued with The Times about the accuracy of the story, not that The Times cares about such things. It is almost ironic that while the story says the nanny seems to lead an irresponsible lifestyle while attending college and going to parties, it is the reporter who is more irresponsible in her job as a journalist at a supposedly respected newspaper.

Since when is it okay for a reporter to discuss her own personal life, slandering the other people in that life, people who have objected to those stories? If this article is about a blog filled with embarresing private details, the true mistake was The Times ever publishing an article that made the same mistakes as the blog!

As for why she ever told me about her blog in the first place, I suppose I’ll never know. Sometimes I suspect she was unhappy in my house and hoped our seemingly bourgeois souls would be so shocked we’d let her go, exactly as we did. Other times I believe she wanted me to assume a more maternal role, and I failed her. But perhaps that is self-aggrandizement.

There is a great rebuttal post where the nanny explains how Olen, the “reporter”, took singular incidents and statements and made assumptions in her article that they were a pattern, how the Times sat behind technicalities in refusing to alter the column before it saw print, and how the blog is, by far, no “Nannies Gone Wild”. Bravo. Regardless of any mistakes this nanny made, the irresponsibility falls squarely on the “journalist” who saw fit to publish details of a private citizen’s private life.

Some comments from the blog:

  1. by the nanny: “Olen is both paranoid and narcisstic and that is a lethal combination”.
  2. Wouldn’t a livejournal be a more appropriate forum for Olen’s feelings than the pages of the New York Times?
  3. Your life is not fodder for her journalism career.
  4. Yes,
    Ms. Olen’s exploitative cannibalizing of your life is vile. She found
    the hip words by which to make her pitch to the NYT – nannies! blogs!
    hot lesbo action! – and “furthers” her career on your back. As I said –
    vile – and a real yuppie move that confirms her in my mind as someone
    for whom I can’t imagine working.
  5. Even though you are not
    mentioned by name, the fact that the author is would make your identity
    obvious to anyone who knew you worked for her.
  6. Wow, that NY Times article is entirely inappropriate.

Oh, and for those of you who want to discuss your sex life on your blog: don’t, it can only come back to bite you, and you gain nothing in doing so. If you must include some sex, feel free to steal this paragraph:

And then I [censored] [censored] [censored] [censored] with my [censored] [censored] [censored] [censored] [censored] and couldn’t feel [censored] [censored] [censored] tuna salad.

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Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

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