For some bloggers, of course, the only point of the story is that it’s foolish to be too forthcoming with an employer about your personal stuff. (A point readily acknowledged by the blogger herself, in the comment thread here.) Other bloggers seem to grasp that there’s a bit more going on. Atrios highlights Pandagon commentor Jeff’s wry observation that evidently “an employee writing about her employer in a blog is enough to get her fired, but an employer writing about her employee in the New York Times is just journalism.” Jeff suggests we may be in the presence of something called “class issues”, which is of course impossible since America doesn’t have cla—, I mean cl—, I mean, you know, that word I can’t even type.
Interestingly, while you might get the impression from Helaine Olen’s Times piece that her former nanny was placarding the intarweb with overt discussions of Olen and her family, in fact the nanny never named any of them; indeed the blog didn’t even contain the blogger’s own full name. (In retrospect, the nanny/blogger appears to have been writing about the Olen clan rather less than Olen and her husband thought she was, but that’s a comic subplot.) By contrast, Olen was nowhere so circumspect:
I told my friends about the blog, and even my childless acquaintances were riveted. They called, begging for more details. “Did she wear the rose negligee, the pink see-through slip or the purple Empire-waisted gown?” demanded one after perusing a post on the proper outfit for first-time sex.
For a smart and nuanced discussion of all this, which digs past the obvious What-Did-You-Expect harrumphing into the much more interesting complicities, check out Bitch Ph.D. Do read the comments; they’re worth the extra time. Unsurprisingly, the nanny/blogger is a participant in that discussion, reacting reasonably to criticism and adding some interesting details to her own side of the story. It would be particularly interesting if Helaine Olen were to show up the conversation as well, but of course that’s never going to happen, and that fact is at the heart of all that’s transpired.
Of course, Olen wasn’t really interested in friendship. She didn’t want to be the stodgy boss, but she didn’t want to be a real confidante either. What she really wanted was a pseudo-relationship that was all about her. When her manipulative pose got her into uncomfortable emotional territory, she eliminated the source of her discomfort without a second thought. Then she wrote a “reflective” essay about the situation in which she congratulates herself for recognizing her own motives, while taking for granted that her self-centered manipulative behavior was acceptable.