The XX Factor

Homewrecking “Vows” Couple’s Biggest Mistake: Misunderstanding New Media

Emily , I’ve definitely been following the hubbub over the New York Times “homewreckers” Carol Anne Riddell and John Partilla . The outrage over this Vows column even made its way to the Today Show this morning .

What surprises me is not that two people dumped their spouses for each other (though the detail that the foursome took vacations together hits you right in the solar plexus), and it’s not that lots of people, like you, were upset by the story (think of the children! was a common refrain), or even that the Times chose to run the story (it’s juicy!). It is that Riddell and Partilla did not anticipate this sort of backlash, as is evident from that New York Post quote from Partilla. This baffles me. Gawker has a weekly column devoted to scoring-slash-judging the New York Times wedding section. There’s a website that allows you to search for words in the section as well . Beyond internet commentating, the Times wedding section is a damn cultural touchtone, mentioned everywhere from Sex and the City to David Brooks’ Bobos in Paradise . And that’s not even considering what their kids are going to have to deal with now that this was prominently featured in the Times ’ style section. As the Hairpin’s Edith Zimmerman asks , “When do kids start Googling?”

Riddell and Partilla were smart not to agree to go on the Today Show to talk about this, but that didn’t stop them from bringing on a slew of shrinks to discuss the column further. My personal feeling is that lives are messy, but that it’s pretty heartless to blare the messiness to the New York Times when there are so many other people involved. When you do that, there are going to be personal-and Internet-repercussions. Check it out in the clip below.