It’s Scary When New Jersey Calls

For me, call display has added a whole new dimension of apprehension to incoming phone calls. I’m not talking about calls from the bank or the dentist office–I’m referring to calls from strange parts of the United States. I’ve got a client in California, and another in Illinois, so those states are okay, but whenever I get a all from Delaware or Nebraska, it freaks me out. Who wants to talk to me from those states?

Inevitably, most of the calls are about this site. This time, the call came from the scariest state of all: New Jersey. New Jersey, the home of mafia goons and garbage dumps, if you’re to believe popular culture. And, as a Canadian on the other side of the continent, what else do I have to go on?

Months ago, I had identified the caller (who shall remain anonymous) on this site, and (in a somewhat bitchy tone) disparaged some work she’d done. The caller worked in a public field, and worried that people might (as she had) Google her and find my fair-if-snarky criticism. As it turns out, my page currently ranked 23rd in Google results for her name.

She asked me to remove her name from the page. I thought about it, and her name was adjunct to the story, so I removed it. Her reasoning was sound, she asked politely, and I bore her no ill will.

This isn’t the first call I’ve gotten along these lines. Every once in a while, somebody calls me up worrying about their whuffie or the whuffie of somebody they represent. Their solution (calling me to discuss the situation) doesn’t really scale. What if ten or 100 or 10,000 people mention them?

A better approach is to have enough of an online presence so that there are more people saying nice things about you than people saying nasty things. If you look, you can find some rather untoward quotes about me. Fortunately, it’s easier to find nice things people have said about me. In the online whuffie equation, I come out ahead.


  1. I’m sure you’ll get more comments about your disparaging of New Jersey, though it was done without knowledge and in a tongue and cheek way. Anyway, I’m not from New Jersey, and I’ve never held any love for the state. I’ve made my jokes asking someone which exit they lived off of. But, I saw the movie Garden State and have a new respect for the state. There was another movie about it at the same time which I can’t remember. The two of them gave me a fuller feeling for the place. And while I don’t think I’ll be moving there any time soon, I felt enough good will that I thought I’d share a counter bit of cultural effluvia about the state.

  2. What do I say when people ask, “so, how’s life in Jersey?”

    “Well, it’s definitely not Vancouver… but I like it!”

    After two years of Jersey Life, I’ve noticed that even the LOCALS disparage the place: the reputation is a badge of honour, like in Vancouver, when out-of-towners always slag on the rain and we react defiantly, “yeah it rains…so?”.

    [but, in all seriousness, aside from the lack of decent skiing, and feeling homesick for the view of the North Shore mountains, it isn’t that bad here]

  3. Dude, no need for the hating on NJ! Come to Princeton. We have some awesome restaurants here, cool shopping towns, and are only an hour away from Philadelphia & New York.

  4. There are disparaging comments about me online as well, one from a woman who called me a moron because I wrote what a lot of guys similar to me were thinking but didn’t want to say. I can’t control what other people think of me, and hey, if they link to me, I’ll just serve ads to those who come in from the referrer. That’ll show them!

    I know someone who is in the middle of a minor controversy because of comments on his site, made not by him, but by drive-by readers. Y’know, the ones who search for something, then leave a comment and never come back. He’s been asked to remove the disparaging comments–and probably will, which is his right–but the organization about which the comments were made has zero online buzz about them, so people searching for the organization see it as #3 and think “hey, here’s a good place to say what I think of them”.

    I’m happy enough with my online reputation–other than what resulted from the writing I’m trying to distance myself from. Not that I didn’t believe what I wrote at the time. I did, absolutely, and the writing is still online, unproblematically. I’m trying to distance myself from it because it no longer accurately reflects how I feel. That writing actually got me quite the number of friends, which was a little surprising, so I’ve managed to come out way ahead as well. Also, I monopolize the results in search engines for my full name. (When I was playing basketball in high school, whenever the other team would trash talk us, I’d just point to the scoreboard. That usually shut ’em up.) If you’re worried about what they’re saying about you on websites, fight back by getting your own.

  5. Jeez, Darren, there are a few racy sites that mention you….

    It’s probably a good idea to remove comments that defame the character of a person, especially if it relates to the person’s work. Even if the statements are true, you can still be accused of defamation (under some conditions). And defamation can still apply even if a name is removed or changed, as long as other facts point to the person’s identity. Yikes!

  6. Elle: Sure, the best thing New Jersey has to recommend is is that it’s halfway between two much more interesting places. Vancouver it is not.

    Better Princeton, NJ, though, than Ithaca, NY or Princeton, BC.

  7. hi…i moved to northeastern Pennsylvania (scranton) about 3 years ago…i go to college out here and i grew up in northern new jersey (hawthorne). My parents recently decided to move back…thank goodness. Provided you live in a good area such as upper Passaic or Bergen countries there is no other place, in my opinion, to live in this country. You have access to high-end stores in some of hte biggest malls in the country and you have convenient access to the city(new york city)not to mention some of the best food in this country….A word of advice, however, DO NOT MOVE TO PENNSYLVANIA! PA is one of the worst states to live in, in my opinion, there is just so much wrong with this state that I wouldn’t know where to begin.

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