The Web Hostess: What you're missing (or not) on the internet

Jun 13, 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.

I've been out of the office on assignment all week, with no time to put together a chat of epic proportions, a la last week's magnificent 100-question "Sharing or Bragging?" showdown.

So today's a free-for-all. Anything you want about the Internet -- though I'd love for us to pick apart some behavior-related online conundrum. Please share with the class if you have a bee in your bonnet.

Cupcake! As requested, re-posting my question from the '100 posts on Facebook' chat (interesting, but not about ME). So- about ME. :) I'm looking for new podcasts to add before a looooong car trip (DC to Vancouver). Current tastes run from humor (WTF, Wait Wait) to literary (Other People, New Yorker Fiction) to public radio (Studio360, FreshAir) to smarty (RadioLab, TED Talks) to sex (Savage Love) to stories (This American Life, The Moth) to name a few. Any recs would be appreciated- I'm sure I'm missing out on lots of worthwhile podcasts even though I have about 30 in regular rotation. Prefer el-cheapo options to test the waters though I contribute/love sponsors of those I subscribe to long term. Thank you & the chatters for any help. GSTQ!

As promised.

Chatters, help your fellow man.

As a wildcard, I'll throw in this suggestion. It's a bunch of vintage radio shows, a la Sam Spade, John Steel, Adventurer. A long car trip seems like an excellent chance to drawn into a long serial and involved storyline.

I'm so sad I missed last week's humblebrag conversation. I read it after the fact and it had me rolling. I'm thinking of unfriending (or at the very least hiding) a close friend of mine who spends a huge amount of time posting about designer shoes she has purchased or been given, shopping, apple products and other electronics. I just don't care. What's your take on people who get specific, with name brands, of their purchases on facebook? Attention whore?

I'd just say, deeply insecure. Unfriend or hide if you wish -- those kinds of brags actually never bother me, because they're about things I care so little about. Bragging about designer shoes? You might as well brag about the bikini top you bought for your third nipple. I mean, good for you. I just can't really identify.

Can we call it a melee?

Can we call it an Edna St. Vincent Melee?

Does finding out this show is fake (ok we already knew that, but finding it's even more fake than I thought) ruin anyone else's day.... or just mine?

I find all of this quite comforting. If we know that everyone's faking it, then maybe people don't care as deeply about stainless steel appliances as they lead us to believe on TV.

During an internet fight, the first person who brings up Hitler is said to have violated Godwin's Law. Is there a name for a law that's violated when someone un-ironically* uses "You're just jealous" in an argument? If not, there ought to be a law! *probably not an appropriate use of irony. Sorry.

Not to my knowledge. But there is nothing that stops us from developing one.

Can anyone appropriately title this non-argument?

They're several years old but the Ricky Gervais podcasts had me laughing. Loved 'em.


At work we have a serious over-tweeter, and not just someone who posts too often. When I first told my co-workers I was in remission (yay me!) she tweeted it to the world (I only use Twitter for professional reasons, so nobody really needed to hear it). When my other co-worker announced she was leaving for a new job, she tweeted it before the co-worker. I know these tweets come from a good place --- she's a nice person --- but how the heck do you get someone so clearly socially clueless to realize they need to let other people decide when/how to share their own news?

If she's truly a nice person, then you should be able to say exactly that to her: "Coworker, my house just sold. Can you keep the news in the office, though? I'd like to decide myself how/when/if to share the news with the broader public."

If she still shares (and I suspect she might), then she's not really so nice -- she's desperate to insert herself into other people's lives, hog attention, etc. etc. Which is a different problem than Tweeting.

Ronna and Beverly! It's Funny! And Free!


How about Monica's Maxim? Or Hesse's First Law of Arguments?

No! I hope to one day be worthy of an Internet law, but this ain't it.

So are those other shows where they reuse stuff already in the home. You know those shows where they barely spending anything but taking stuff the owner already has and moving it to a better place. What they do is the designer buys a bunch of stuff and places it around the home, then "discovers" that same stuff as she is helping the owners better use their stuff.

I always thought it was weird how many vintage chairs people had lying around their houses that they were perfectly willing to have spraypainted.

Oh, well done, Cupcake! (Applauding) I can't help on podcasts, but can you help on movies? What are you seeing next?

I'm stoked about Brave, and I'll probably see Your Sister's Sister, because I would watch Emily Blunt repaint furniture on HGTV and be totally enthralled. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter goes without saying, obviously.

If you are a fan of funny pictures and the like, check out George Takei's FaceBook page. He is always posting funny stuff.

George Takei is truly a master presence on the Internet. Well worth a follow.

I hate the comments section of our regional paper's on-line edition, especially when the article is about someone or something I actually know about. My husband is a local ADA and so his name and cases are in the paper fairly often. He is generally amused by the comments, he's a laid back guy, and has a strict policy not to ever engage in on-line commenting. But the comments drive me crazy, people make stuff up and have no idea how the criminal justice system works in our state, I know I should just stop reading them, but I can't. Do you read the comment section? If so, how do you deal with all the annoying, mean, and stupid things people say?

I used to. I can't always handle it anymore, because I would never get out of bed in the morning. (I do, however, read and respond to all reader emails -- even the ones telling me I'm a stupid idiot).

One thing that I have seen work is to try to set up a civil tone early in the comments. When early commenters say something like, "This story on bicycle thefts was interesting. Have you ever had a bicycle stolen?" then people are much more likely to have a focused discussion on the topic at hand -- as opposed to the whole chain getting derailed by idiocy and Hitler.

What's your thought on Instagram? Yay or nay? Personally I'm a little tired of looking at washed out photos on twitter and facebook feeds. I honestly think we'll look back at these photos in a decade or so and wish the color was a little more crisp and clear.

I find Instagram really fascinating.

Here's a question: Do you look back at photographs from the 1970s and say, "I wish the color was a little more crisp and clear?" I don't. I enjoy the dated quality of the photos because they represent the time. It was the best technology they had at the time, which makes the photos seem like a historical artifact.


What's odd about Instagram is that the color and crispness is not indicative of the technology of our time. The altered photos mess up our whole perception of history.

Are any of Jean Shepherd's radio programs available? He was one of the finest practitioners (and lovers) of radio ever.

Dunno -- but I bet someone could find them.

I don't need all these clown questions bro. How excited are you that the nationals star has finally generated his own meme?

Truly, well-done, Bryce.


Because I honestly don't think that people realize they are writing to a real person. Whenever I respond, the most common reply I get back was, "I'm sorry -- I didn't think you'd read your emails." (Which raises the question: Then why did you bother to write?).


At any rate, I think that people should be reminded as frequently as possible that there are people behind keyboards, and there's no cause for dashed-off cruelty.

What if Hitler stole your bike? Then it would be totally appropriate for the comments.

I think House Hunters might have once featured a home containing the re-finished bike that Hitler stole from you.

Ugh, I don't follow George Takei and I don't want to follow him. Yet I still see all of his stupid picture posts because all of my friends keep sharing them. I never thought I'd have to block George Takei.


second reference I've seen to thsi today, and I still have NO idea what it means. For the dummies, explain please!

It's in reference to a quote that Bryce Harper gave at a press conference.

It is also highly Google-able. If you type in, "Clown questions bro," a plethora of information will be at your fingertips.

"Stuff You Should Know" podcast (from the HowStuffWorks folks) is one of my favorites: educational, entertaining, and free. There are hundreds of different topics on everything from Jack the Ripper to Twinkies to crime scene clean-up.

Some, involving all three.

Remember the really elaborate proposal video where a very nice man videoed his beloved in the back of a station wagon and had the entire cul-de-sac lipsynch to Bruno Mars' Marry You? And everyone thought it was so great and sweet? And I can't stop thinking about the fact that these are actually two drunk people in Vegas who are half-convinced that they'll get an anullment in the morning. So it seemed like a bad omen to me. Again, horrible person or no?

Viral proposals make me feel icky -- I've thought about writing about them in a column. And by "viral," I mean the proposals that were clearly designed to be shared around the Internet by strangers. Not just run-of-the-mill public ones, like a guy proposing in a restaurant.

Just to close the loop, this is what HGTV said about the expose: "We’re making a television show, so we manage certain production and time constraints, while honoring the home buying process. To maximize production time, we seek out families who are pretty far along in the process. Often everything moves much more quickly than we can anticipate, so we go back and revisit some of the homes that the family has already seen and we capture their authentic reactions. Because the stakes in real estate are so high, these homeowners always find themselves RIGHT back in the moment, experiencing the same emotions and reactions to these properties." not believe this. Especially since the original article states that sometimes, the houses they tour are not even for sale -- they might even belong to friends.

There's something new and better.


Okay, let me try this again. This has probably come up before in the chat, but I'd like to ask again: What obligation do I have to wait -- and how long -- before I post the results of a TV reality show on my Facebook timeline? The scenario: A couple of minutes after the end of the West Coast feed of "Dancing with the Stars," I posted a status congratulating the winners of the Mirror Ball Trophy -- the outcome of which I had actually known in advance, thanks to posting a story on their front page. (I continued to watch, because I like to see it.) The next morning, I had several angry posts under my status from one of my friends, who also lives here in LA, complaining that I had spoiled the ending for her -- she had fallen asleep during the telecast and had it on her DVR. I refused to apologize, because a) I had intentionally waited until the "live" West Coast feed had completed (it's not really live, it's tape delayed); and b) it's my timeline and I'll post anything I want to, within reason. Do I have an obligation to Facebook friends to delay commenting on a TV show result after the live (or tape delayed) broadcast is over? This has been on my mind for a while, obviously.

This is pertinent, I swear. Can you please send in the exact text of the update you posted on Facebook?

I haven't actually listened to any of these, but this is the first result for Jean Shepherd online radio program:

Thank you.

Kardashian's Corollary, which is appropriate because there's usually nothing to be jealous about, and the utterer of the phrase is usually a clueless cow worthy of nothing more than contempt.

This is excellent.

Not being snarky - serious. Can someone tell me how and why pound became hashtag? Are automated phone services like vmail going to have to change messages? "To login, enter your extension and press hashtag." #Ijustdontgetit

In Commonwealth English (UK, Ireland, Australia, etc), the pound sign has always been called the "hash sign." That's where it came from -- it's not a newfangled Internet invention.

"Extra Hot Great"! (Though be prepared for some spoilers re: new shows/movies, if you haven't seen some of them yet.) Also, "My Brother, My Brother and Me" is a fantastically, bizarrely entertaining listen - I love it for car rides. My boyfriend wonders what's wrong with me when I make him listen to that podcast though, so YMMV.


Lots of Jean Shepherd available. Look in iTunes for "The Brass Figlagee". If you were a fan of the Don & Mike Show and/or the Mike O'Meara radio show, Mike lives on in podcast form. There are nearly 600 episodes to choose from. If you're looking for a narrative thread, actor Stephen Tobolowsky has a podcast that can be funny and touching, often at the same time. You don't need to listen to that one in sequential order, but it helps a lot.


Has there been any reporting on the day of silence for conservative blogs last week in response to the SWATTing of several conservative bloggers across the country and the muted response by the media?

I saw a few pieces, like this one from the NY Daily News.

I'd probably wait a week - generic like "Mad Men, why do you make me love you and then kick me in the teeth?" is fine. But, then again, when people say that they're going to watch Season 3 of Lost and say "No spoilers!", I'll usually post that Rosebud was his sled or something similar. Also, if you're congratulating the winner of a trophy for a reality show competition, you may wish to get out more.

That's why I wanted to see the exact text of the update. Your Mad Men example is perfect -- it expresses a sentiment without going completely spoiler-y. But if the update had been something like, "I can believe X died after he had an affair with Y, and Z has a third nipple" -- well, I can see that irritating people if it was posted immediately upon completion of the show.

The status message I posted: "Way to go, Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd, your "Dancing with the Stars" Season 14 CHAMPS! :)"

Okay. This is an annoying status update. (You are not an annoying person. We appreciate and value your weekly contributions).

The reason it is annoying: It's not value added. It doesn't offer insights. It doesn't say how you feel about the win, it doesn't offer any new perspectives. What it does, essentally, is say, "I am a big spoiler. Nanny Nanny Boo Boo." It's unnecessarily in-your-face, and it appears as though the only reason it was written was so that you could deliver the news first.

I'm not saying that was your goal. But that's how it reads. I side with your friends.

I'm taking an online class and shared in my introduction/profile that I enjoy watching a certain show. Someone in the class responded in the discussion forum, "oh, didn't you love that scene in the finale where X happened?" Well, I tape the show and was going to watch that episode that night so I hadn't seen it yet. I know the answer is I shouldn't have told anyone I watch that show.

Well, yeah -- because if you're a big enough fan of the show to include it on your profile, then people are going to assume that you watch it when it's on. Still, I'm sorry for your spoilage. Downer.

Have you seen the whole Oatmeal/FunnyJunk kerfluffle? I have a hard time believing that FunnyJunk isn't purposefully stealing other people's stuff (not just the Oatmeal, but David Thorne, Hyperbole and a Half, etc). They say it's "just what our users submit!" but I have a hard time believing that all those users would take the time to edit out the watermarks/attributions from the stuff they post. Stealing is stupid.

I haven't followed it closely, but others have written in about it. Let me see if I can find a link so we may educate ourselves.

Did you have a column this week? I am not sure if I found it... was it the-gate one?? I hate searching on this website. But I'll do it just for you...

I have a column every week! This one was about SocialCam (it's confusing, because the print column comes out on Sundays, but the online version usually gets posted a few days early).

I think this is the Internet story of the week. I don't really follow The Oatmeal except when people post links to it on Facebook, But I really like how the story played out.

Here's the Oatmeal recap I was looking for. Can't wait to catch up after the chat.

Any chance that the wry, dry Nichols-&-May dialogues from the late '50s / early '60s are available? This was when Mike Nichols and Elaine May were still young, before they went their separate ways and both became accomplished directors. How about Bob-&-Ray? Both N&M and B&R were staples of NBC's weekend radio program, "Monitor." (Ask Father Cupcake re this).

If they're out there, I'm sure one of you can find it. Posting!

I will say that sports are different - based on their live status, if someone scored a goal, I'd say tweet away. If you like sports and want to watch the big game without knowing who won, you should already know to avoid all internet connectivity.


So, if Twitter was founded and is based in the U.S., then why go with "hash" and add "tag" to the end of it?

It's true. I guess we should also never call restaurants "cafes," or early-school education "Kingdergarten."

Come on. American English is built on the pillaging and collection of other languages.

OK, I TRY to be considerate about this and be non-spoiler-y. But my own personal guide is a week. If a week's gone by, I want to talk about Booth and Brennan and the fact that they are going to have a baby. (Or, coversely, that Brennan has run off with said baby). I'm sorry if you DVR. But a week, I think, it's fine. It's like people who don't want to know the ending of Jaws...and it's 2012.

A week is usually fair game. There are exceptions. For example, it is far more grievous to spoil a movie than a television show. If someone hasn't watched a show in more than a week, then they're already two episodes behind. We cannot wait for you forever.

Okay, the added insight is that I was backing Donald Driver for the trophy all season (as a sports fan and longtime DWTS viewer, I always back the football players) and had made that point known early on, and in case you can't tell how I feel about the victory, I was quite pleased. (Case in point: When the LA Kings, whom I dislike, won the Stanley Cup on Monday, once the horn blew and the trophy was presented I posted merely "Presenting your Stanley Cup champions, the Los Angeles Kings." No smiley, just an acknowledgement of the victory. If anything that's a no-value-added post. No one said a word about that one, but I guess I stand in the annoying minority. :)

Yeah. Still annoying. But I know you didn't mean it.

(Note: this really isn't an interwebs question) I'm reading the Game of Thrones books (3600 pages down, another 1200 or so to go!) and just came across a spoiler so hugely earth-shattering that I'm actually giddy about knowing it. However, in the timeline of the HBO series it's probably not going to be unearthed until late season 3 or, more probably season 4. None of my friends are reading the books, but many are watching the series, How, oh how, do I keep this to myself...?

You and I can just email about it, if you like. I've only read the first two GoT books, but I got so over-eager that I spoiler -myself- by reading ahead in plotlines for the next several.

Now all I can hope is that I forget everything I read.

Not only is using the Britishism considered slightly classy (like the High Tea of Internetting), but also, let's face it, "pound-tagging" sounds offensively violent and would only result in a bunch of single entrendres that would have ruined the entire concept.


Aren't the sainted conservative bloggers the media? I guess they decided to mute themselves. Poor conservative bloggers...

It is a little ironic to mute yourselves, and then be annoyed that there was not a bigger response in terms of covering what you did not say. Then again, the info-blackout on Wikipedia seemed to work well for them a few months back.

That's all for today, chatters. Thanks for a low-key and mellow hour. Next week we'll be back to something high-octane. Start your engines. Rowr.


Rent, own or go steal a copy of John Carter. Edgar Rice Burroughs can't be wrong!


Okay. Bye.

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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