So earlier we were innocently reading the Sunday New York Times, happily taking in your typical "Times writer has lunch with affair-having friend" Magazine article, when things got a little, uh, disgusting.

The writer of the article in question is Virginia Heffernan, noted hater of Sarah Vowell and blog commenters. Heffernan started her piece, the subject of which was people who carry out affairs on the internet, with a story about her recent lunch with a friend.

A friend met me for lunch not long ago and laid a BlackBerry on the table. Throughout the meal, the friend kept a hand on it and shot it furtive glances, like a mobster watching a door. Reading upside down, I saw e-mail messages, all from the same sender, stacking up. "Do you need to look at those?" I asked.

"Nah," was the effortfully offhand response; later, as we were leaving, I saw my friend gazing deeply into the screen.

At last I caught on. "Hey, you're having an affair!" My friend tried to look serious and rueful but seemed frankly giggly. "Yes."

That's all cool, right? Virginia Heffernan just outed one of her Blackberry-using lunch friends for having an affair, but whatever, it's all good, right? Oh, well, then Heffernan made the mistake of picking up her friend's Blackberry.

I was happy to see my friend's shiny eyes, but I didn't like holding the device. It felt hot and even damp, as if it had been inside a human body. Lots of erotic energy was going into that thing.

Um, yeah. Thanks for the smartphone/sex toy imagery, Virginia. Thanks a lot.

One last thing—Reading this piece reminded us of a Joan Didion quote:

My only advantage as a reporter is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate, that people tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests. And it always does. That is one last thing to remember: writers are always selling somebody out.

The reason we bring up the quote is because it sure seem to us as if Virginia Heffernan might have just screwed over, or sold out if you will, one of her friends. She never revealed the person's gender, but still—Couldn't Heffernan's introductory anecdote possibly out her cheating friend? Perhaps even worse, pity anyone whose Blackberry-using spouse is friendly with Virginia Heffernan. We'd be willing to bet that more than one person read Heffernan's piece today and felt slightly overcome with "is my spouse cheating on me?" anxiety.

Then again, Virginia Heffernan co-wrote The Underminer, so maybe her friends just expect such things.

Love, Virtually [New York Times]
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