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Nowhere to hide

By KARA BASKIN  |  April 25, 2008

“The funny thing is, I don’t really know if the blog would even be relevant if I didn’t go to Harvard,” says Chen. “I get a lot of attention for it from people outside of Harvard, because the thought of people talking about sex and the Ivy League is strange.” And just as she’s made celebrities out of some of her boyfriends (some are okay with it; some can’t deal), Chen has become a campus celebrity herself, with an ardent following of visitors who want to see photos of her boyfriends. She also has her share of haters.

“I know I have a lot of detractors — a lot of people who wonder, ‘Why is this girl getting any attention?’ The truth is, I’m not doing anything extraordinary. None of what I write about is unique to me, its common experiences.

“If I hadn’t stumbled on this B-list Internet scene, I don’t think I’d be so sure of myself. I’m more comfortable in my own skin than I’ve ever been.”

The blog has complicated Chen’s life; while she’s gotten plenty of high-profile writing assignments — and even book offers — out of it, she’s also received some backlash from people who wonder why she’s getting so much attention for writing about something as banal as sex.

“It’s more about Harvard than it is about me,” she says. “The things that get written about, on [blogs like] IvyGate and GossipGeek, are pretty minor campus scandals — people only care because schools like Harvard have this weird caché, and people are perfectionists.”

When you spend so much time crafting everything from your résumé to your personality, the potential damage gossip blogs can cause raises the stakes just a little bit higher. And while there’s some comfort in knowing that today’s indiscretions will soon be displaced by another juicy news story, negative posts, accurate or not, can have long-term consequences — putting a certain burden of responsibility on campus gossipmongers.

“There’s a lot of times that we decided not to include an item, or someone’s name, because it would probably ruin the rest of their life,” says Beam. “They don’t deserve that kind of humiliation.”

Kara Baskin, whose college career is an open book at, can be reached at

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