The Web Hostess: Online manners, memes and must-see video

Feb 15, 2012

A weekly chat about the best ways to kill time online. Our Web Hostess, Monica Hesse, sifts the Internet so you don't have to, searching for meaning, manners and the next great meme.

Afternoon, everyone, and thanks for stopping by. Let's talk about some stuff. What stuff? Don't know. Let's make it up as we go along. Who would like to start?

This meme is less than a week old, and I'm already willing to defriend anyone who posts one of these on Facebook. They're all the same! All the same! Not a bit of creativity or cleverness involved. So my question is, what memes have you gotten tired of as quickly? What about other chatters?

I'm going to risk all of my street cred in order to say: I do not think I know this meme you speak of. Are you talking about the What I Really Do meme? Because I am still finding that one very funny.

To your larger question. I get sick of cat memes pretty quickly. The bar is very high. And planking? Never funny. What do you all think?

Where have I been to miss this? I only discovered it last week while surfing Amazon for books for kids and saw the little video that had been posted to go with a new book. The short movies are hilarious and at the same time full of feel-good positive thinking. I've made my coworkers watch it and I thought one was going to asphyxiate because she couldn't catch her breath. Part 2 is funnier than Part 1:

Where -have- you been? Nevermind, you're here with us now. Do set my mind at ease, though. You are aware of Honeybadger, I assume?

What is your take on people using Twitter/FB to ask stupid questions and/or make statements like "Chris Brown is sooo hot, he could beat me any day" Sadly Buzzfeed posted a collection of 25 variations of the Whitney Houston query and Chris Brown comment. Pathetic attention seeking troll or truly stupid humans

Or, both.

I was going to respond to this by saying that I would need more context in order to determine the level of stupidity and/or trolling involved. For example, if a feminist friend of mine posted something like that, I would assume she was being ironic. Someone who didn't know her might assume she deeply troubled. The problem with Twitter is, of course, that it is a medium entirely without context.

However, your question has led me to A Topic for us to discuss. (See? I knew that we would land on one eventually!). Hold for a moment, please:

This is the Buzzfeed collection that the PP referred to. It is titles "25 Extremely Upsetting Reactions to Chris Brown at the Grammies."

It posts a bunch of  Tweets like, "I'd let Chris Brown beat me up any time." The posting uses the real Twitter handles and photographs of the women who made these statements.

What these Tweeters wrote was offensive and disturbing. I am sure they are now suffering massive backlash.

Do you think that BuzzFeed was right to include their names in the postings?

A) Yes. The Tweets were damaging, and the Tweeters deserved to be called out for them.

B) Yes. The Tweets were in a public arena.

C) No. Not unless they had permission from the Tweeters.

D) No. It was needlessly malicious.

I won brownie points with my bosses for sending them the "What Lawyers Really Do" meme today. They thought it was hilarious. So do I.

And you are...a lawyer, I assume?

Yes, the "What I do", "What My Friends Think I do", " What My Mother Thinks I do" meme. The first five or six were funny, but then everyone just did the same thing with it. I guess maybe it's just the joy of preaching to the choir sometime. I too think planking was never funny. Vaguely stated, pseudo-titillating status updates for a social message are just tedious.

I'm guessing that there are very distinct micro-audiences for this. "Being an accountant" probably isn't funny to you, if you've already seen 10 or 12 other examples of the meme. But I bet it's funny to accountants. And the journalism one? Spot on.

It just started pouring which means I timed walking my dogs and being back for this chat to perfection. This never happens to me. It always decides to rain after I am out on a walk so maybe I will go buy a lottery ticket. I'll let you know if I win.

Please take us out for cupcakes when/if that happens.

The other day my wife (with whom I am very happily married) used the following wording: "your girlfriend Monica Hesse wrote...." I realized I have been referencing this chat way too much. Damn you for being so entertaining, relevant, and timely!

I am touched. Honestly, folks, you'll make me cry.

I found it interesting that evidence was found that a dinosaur may have had feathers. Considering that birds are related to dinosaurs, doesn't it make sense that it is possibly dinosaurs had feathers? If that is the case, where are the pictures of feathered dinosaurs? I did search the Internet and I found a few. They are mostly frightening in their depictions. So, on behalf of the Dinosaur Anti-Defamation League, may I please issue a plea for better pictures of feathered dinosaurs?

I, too, would like to see more pictures of feathered dinosaurs.

Speculation: Tyrannosaurus Rex would be the dinosaur to look most ridiculous covered in feathers. Brachiosaurus would not look very ridiculous at all.

Greetings from Los Angeles! My co-workers and I couldn't stop laughing over this cute video...yikes.

Oh no! It is horrible! I think that I feel far worse for the ducks than the ducks feel for themselves. They're just all, Whatever, it's windy.


I'm typing this with a box of Russell Stovers in my lap -- the annual Valentines shipment from my dad. Too many vanilla cremes, not enough toasted coconut. But what's a gal to do but eat them all anyway?

I'll start! Last night's Linsanity raised to a new level :)

This is such a great story. I deem it so because its made even me interested in basketball.

Planking was funny for about 90 minutes last summer. Owling about 25 minutes in mid august. Tebowing, never funny, so over.

Really, the aftershocks are never as funny as the original.  Planking was funny in an unexpected, odd way. But it was impossible to achieve the same oddity in later versions of the meme. It's like how the roller coaster is never as exciting as the first plunge.

I used too many metaphors there, didn't I?

Before I looked at the link to the collection I thought my answer to your question was D. But then I looked at it and I change my answer to B. These women are pathetic and hopefully being exposed will make them think twice about sharing their dumb thoughts.

Interesting. Your argument is public shaming-as-deterrant. Does anyone else view it this way? (Is this like making the kid stand up and read aloud the note he was trying to pass in class?)

I forgot about Marcel the Shell, I want to show it to my little sisters! Any suggestions for other funny/cute kid-friendly videos?

Wired did a list of these a few years back, which I'm pasting here.  Obviously, it's outddated now, but the links still work (and your sisters probably won't care that it's not new).

Are there are other parents or older siblings out there who can recommend some guaranteed kid pleasers?

I vote B, they tweeted it, they can deal with the backlash. In a sane world, it would lead to people thinking before tweeting but I imagine it will only lead to even more idiotic or controversial tweets with the hopes that it will get retweeted for notoriety purposes.

Intriguing. Do you really think that people would crave the kind of attention these girls are now getting? I know that attention seekers will often settle for bad attention if they can't get good -- but I'm guessing that it's pretty miserable to be these women right now.

B. It's not hard to click the lock if you only want to share a joke with your friends. If you want to be public and get credit for being "edgy" or "shocking" or whatever, then you deserve to be called on it. I believe in object lessons.


Can we get a link?

I've seen a couple out there, but can't find one right quick. If the OP is here, can you send a link in?

That's exactly it--they're amusing to the people they target, and people who might understand those jobs, but that's about it. I saw one today that was about people who work in Army public affairs. This needs to stop. (Like the "S**t _____ Say videos.)

Noted. I still don't feel bothered by this meme, because I do not feel attacked by it. I figure it's something that can happen behind closed doors among groups of public affairs officers, or lawyers, or medical transcriptionists, or whatever, and we can all bond over the shared ennui of our jobs, and then eventually move on.

I think this is an important lesson for everyone to learn. We all think it is funny to spout off these truly hurtful things in the anonymity of the interwebs, but you should be responsible for what you say. The coarsening of our culture is partly due to the ability of people to say things like this without repercussions.

I'm surprised at how many people are choosing B.  I'm going to post a few more below.

One question, though, to get at the heart of this. If these women had written something like this in an email to a friend, and it happened to get forwarded on to the general public, would you all feel the same way? Or is there a sense that they deserve what they get, because they chose to post in a visible arena?

I tried looking for the journalism and accounting memes and came up short. I searched on "being a....." and "what do _____ do" and got nothing. As the cats say, "Halp!"

Check the original link I posted in discussing this meme. It's a gallery of 13 different professions, and the first one is "journalist."

I think if their feeds were public (not locked), then Buzzfeed was perfectly within their rights to publish their names. I'm glad they did, if only in the hope that being shamed publicly will knock some sense into these nitwits. I tremble for humanity.


Also noting that "knock some sense" is a very awkward choice of words in this particular context.

In my life it rains every time I get a package that is left on my front (uncovered) door step. I cannot tell you the last time I received a non-soaked package.

Maybe the rainfall of the entire country is tied to how many times you place an order on Amazon?

B. It's a public forum, people. Learn it, live it, love it. Or, tolerate it, at least.


B) Yes. The Tweets were in a public arena. I'm of the belief that if you put something that asinine out into the world in a public way, it's fair game. Most of them seemed to be young, but now is as good a time as any to learn that your internet postings aren't private.


I believe in teaching moments. I think that if they were posting about something -not- related to domestic violence, I would be more of a "B" person. What trips me up is this: Whether facetiously or with a nugget of truth, these girls were expressing a believe that they deserved to be hit. Girls who would do this are precisely the kinds of fragile souls I would worry about damaging further with a public shaming.

Not to mention the fact that each of these posters had, probably, a few hundred followers -- if that many. Now their Tweets have been spread to millions of people. I wonder if it's an outsized reaction.

Anyhow. Just posting a few alternative things to think about, since I hadn't seen these raised yet.

Of course, anyone who really feels that way is probably more likely to date someone a lot like Chris Brown, which is both fitting and sad.


When I'm honest with myself, this is tough. I intellectually know that everything that goes on the internet is public. Every facebook post, every tweet, every product review. It's out there for everyone to see, potentially forever. I *know* that. But I really can't internalize it. I just cannot accept that anyone beyond a handful of friends would care about a lame joke, poorly worded status update, or potentially-out-of-context-suggestive photo. Heck, how would they even notice it in the deluge of data pouring through these portals every day? Even though I see it happen every day, and contribute to it, forwarding and posting links to some previously anonymous person's "private" post.

Thanks. This is thoughtful, because it gets at what's really the larger issue. There's the saying -- let the punishment fit the crime. On the Internet, where anything can blow up to be hundreds of times bigger than it initially was, one wonders if it's possible for the punishment to dwarf the crime, with lasting consequences. I'm thinking of future college applications, job interviews, etc.

You have to keep finding a bigger and scarier roller coaster to get the excitement.

Sigh. True.

He wrote his note with one person in mind and it was intercepted and then broadcast. Presumably these women all had twitter feeds with several followers and broadcast their inane inner-thoughts. If someone made the Chris Brown statement in a private email that was then forwarded I would have some sympathy and probably vote D.


Ah, I haven't seen. Will look later.

I think breading cats set the bar as low as possible for that.


today, running errands, all excited. then realized - they hadn't yet even had time to mark down the candy!!!! it was still full price, while they were putting up the easter candy. :( gotta make a target run later.

Good luck. When I was at Target on Monday night, I couldn't even find a bag of chewy cherry hearts. All sold out -- they were picked clean.

I've found some of them pretty funny, even when they don't relate to me. (Actually, I think the journalism one is funnier than the lawyer one (and I'm a lawyer).) It hasn't crossed the line to annoying yet, for me at least.

Not this week, at least. Next week, we can all be sick of them together.

Being a professional translator, I immediately searched the Intrawebs on "What Translators Really Do" -- but only found serious answers. Can someone please come up with a funny answer during this chat? BTW, do you know how many translators it takes to change a light bulb? Answer: It all depends on the context...

Make your own! Contribute to the meme!

Since it's all visual-based, it's hard to come with with funny answers -- it's really more like "appropriate pictures."

Apropos of nothing, I give the fan-generated map of Hunger Games Panem according to likely environmental and political inferences.

I love this.

Point of Order: I thought I remembered that District 13 was to have included Washington, DC. Did I just make that up? According to this map, Washington would be in District 12.

The best one is the librarian one. Sincerly, a Librarian.

Librarians are always the best ones.

Has anybody ever just left work early because there's nothing good to do and they're bored? Seriously contemplating just walking out right now and hoping nobody notices.

We won't tell a soul. See if you can find a movie theater that's still playing "Hugo," which I actually do have to see for my job. That way you'll still be doing work. My work, but still.

if you can't stand the heat, don't send the tweet (i just made that up)


Oh Monica! I thought we were exclusive. Well, at least my wife doesn't know about our weekly, internet relationship. That guy who posted above needs to keep his mouth shut. BTW, I cheat on you with Lisa DeMoraes.

That's okay. I talk to Lisa DeMoraes in person.

Put me down for B. My dad told me once never to put anything in writing that you can't defend later. On the legal side, I see all kinds of goofy stuff people write in their work emails, never expecting that some lawyers would see it three years later because the emails were produced during the course of unrelated litigation. The FBI agents learned that the hard way this week with the allegedly inappropriate texts with their informant. Nothing is private. It's the new reality.


I don't know about "deserve," but I do think people need to be more careful about what they put out there. When I was much younger I said a lot of stupid things because I didn't know better at the time. But I didn't say them on the Web, which wasn't around in this public way back then. I cringe at some of the things I've said and believed and am so thankful that only a limited number of people know about them. So I temper my feelings about them "deserving" to be treated badly for saying something stupid. Mostly I hope they learn something from the reaction they are getting.


Since the Internet has allowed us to express any and every personal opinion on a whim to the entirety of other internet users, are you more upset/dismayed/surprised by the number of people who still hold racist, chauvinist, homophobic, etc. views, or more encouraged by the number of people who push back against these prejudiced opinions? I'm having a hard time figuring out the answer to this question..

I'm not surprised by the number of people who still hold those views. I am surprised by the number of people who still think that it's socially acceptable to say those views out loud. So in some ways, the Internet has brought repugnant views into the light, where we can hopefully have thoughtful discussions about them rather than pretending they doesn't exist. The Internet is the quickly flicked-on kitchen light that reveals the roaches scuttling across the floor. If you don't turn the light on, you don't know the roaches are there. But you have to know before you can solve the problem.

I think what they're saying is that if the guy is good-looking enough it erases anything horrible he might do to you.

Well, yes. But I still think that only someone with self esteen problems would even come to that conclusion.

The little sisters are 6 and 10. They LOVE Charlie Bit My Finger. I am the cool big sis because when I come over, I show them funny videos on my phone.

Warms my heart!

some ideas: google translate screen grab for "what society thinks i do" some sort of UN headset person for "what my mom thinks i do" and likely the "what I really do" image is of a keyboard, like many of these jobs

I'm liking where this is going.

all the time, man, all the time...

Do it. Do it for all of us who cannot. Go get some froyo. It's beautiful out.

Garbage Man wins, hands down. Enough irony that even a hipster could love it.

It's good, right? Of course, being the granddaughter of a garbage man, I have to point out that the "what I actually do" photo should include clean  streets symbolizing modern civilization.

When I was a reporter, my partner in crime and I would leave the newsroom 5 minutes apart and meet up for a matinee. Shh: You know this man.

You and I may, in fact, have the same partner in crime.

Since I work with scientists, I appreciate this one:  although I've seen various versions.

Since I love scientists, I appreciate it, too.

Email=usually one to one, most sympathy if it is intercepted and leaked FB=usually one to several friends but perhaps locked, some sympathy if it is intercepted and leaked Twitter=usually one to anyone who can run a twitter search to see what people are saying, including the Library of Effing Congress. No sympathy if it is "intercepted" and leaked. It's 2012. There are stories on the news every week about someone's "private" thoughts going public. At a certain point, awareness of your chosen communication tool's reach (and the willingness to respond to those parameters) is required to be a functioning adult in society. I also think one would have to read their feeds before assuming that they were really troubled (which I am admittedly not willing to take the time to do). As presented, it just sounded like they thought they were being naughty and fantasizing.

Thanks for the hierarchy of sympathy vs. medium. This would make a lovely chart.

"Hugo" provided insightful looks into life. It was superbly acted. The direction was strong despite a script that had some spotty weaknesses. It is a delightful film that should entertain many readers. No, I haven't seen the movie either, but I thought I could help you out in case you are on a deadline.

Thank you. I just have to see it before I go to California next week. I shall be spending my weekend at the movie theater.

I think the OPs rationale is perfectly reasonable. I am considering leaving work because the outfit I pulled on this morning is pretty awful.


Please, please, for the love of God, explain this outfit to us immediately.

So, do I need to order more books or hold off for a bit?

Hold off, please. The weather is just gorgeous today.

wow, just happened on this story  These are the times when I want to crawl into a hole and not come out until the Internet implodes

I haven't had a chance to read it yesterday, but Paul's stuff is always great.

In my book, Monica, you are the baddest chick in town.

Dame Maggie Smith is the baddest chick in town. But since her town is actually Edinburgh or London, I'll take it.

What bugs me is the tactics that people I agree with use to attack people who post something I don't, even if it's horrible. The vitriol of otherwise sensible people when gutting someone who has posted something racist, misogynistic, etc. doesn't do their cause any good.

It's true. Vitriol rarely solves vitriol -- and people lose their brains so easily online.

Are people having thoughtful discussions about them? Seems like the discussion forums and such are just a bunch people screaming that the other side is stupid. Is that getting us anywhere?

It's true that the immediate messageboard discussions are often just a bunch of screaming fruitloops. I was thinking -- hoping -- more that society as a whole would have these conversations.

A friend of mine showed up to work in mismatched shoes once - a low-heeled brown loafter, and medium-heeled black flat. And she did not leave work. She walked around like that all day. Just stick it out.

I once showed up to work and realized that I had a bra brandished against my sweater like a Miss America sash. Had been static-clinging since I pulled it out of the drier. I walked around for several hours.

I read this as "baldest". Should I go to the eye doctor?

Maybe I should go to the hair doctor.


It's not interesting bad it's just sort of random and unflattering. I got make up all over the shirt I was going to wear, so I just grabbed another that, on further inspection, is oddly unflattering. My shoes are all wrong too.

Oh, just go home. Let's all just go home -- or back to work, at least.

Thanks for stopping by, and I'll see you all next week. GSTQ.

In This Chat
Monica Hesse
Monica Hesse is a staff writer for the Post Style section. She frequently writes about culture, the Web and the intersection of the two.

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