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

Jul 11, 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.

Behold, the chat has returned!


If this is your first time here, welcome!


If you are a regular who is wondering what heavy piece of furniture I have been trapped under for the past three weeks, I will now explain what happened.


Three weeks ago, I found myself under a crushing deadline involving a 1970s religious leader named Father Yod. I normally don't like to cancel the chat for deadline related reasons, but thought, "It's just this once, and I'm really under the gun. I'll see everyone next week."


But then, of course, I didn't. The next week, I found myself stuck in traffic court, explaining to the mediator that I do, in fact, have car insurance. I just did not happen to have the card on me when the nice police officer stopped me ($500 fine, averted). "That's okay," I told myself. "I'll see everyone next week."


But then, of course, I didn't. The next week, I was on vacation in Northern Michigan, with no Internet access. As you may remember from last year's "Wheee, Southern California!" chat, I am usually happy to chat from vacation, and I was all prepared to go decamp in a public library. But then the chat producer reminded me that it was the 4th of July, and nobody was chatting.


Foiled again.


In any case, I'm back now. So let us chat at 2.

Now that we're back: I was going to discuss this item back during the First Cancelled Chat three weeks ago. In Internet parlance, this topic is now 400 years old -- but I still think it's interesting, and anyone may suggest a better topic at any time.


I'm sure you are all familiar with the case of Karen Klein, the taunted bus monitor whose horrifying viral video opened America's purse strings to the tune of $500,000+. In this column, I shared several other similar stories that also happened that week.


Our poll:


What do you think about these monetary rewards?

A) They are good. These people deserve to be compensated for their suffering.

B) They are good. They symbolically show that we, humanity, won't put up with bullying or other heinous behavior.

C) They are good and bad. I approve of the compensation, but the amount was oversized.

D) They are bad. In making people feel good, they disguise the real problems.


And finally: To the chatter I randomly met in person a few weeks ago who, astounded, told me, "You are so much prettier in person." You are correct. I take the most troll-y pictures of anyone I've ever met. Everyone should please factor this into their thinking during the chat.

Thanks for joining us today. ;-) Actually, thanks for the detailed explanation of why we missed you for so long. Not necessary, but totally appreciated.

Traffic court. Totally fascinating. Except, of course, don't.

Are the questions we submitted two weeks ago still in play today, or do we need to submit again? (I asked about teacher blogs, if you need a reference point)

You must resubmit, alas. I think that the old questions got carried over one week, but could not be dragged along for all three.

Why can't I shake this nagging feeling that she's not a nice person. I have nothing to base this on except historical bus monitors I've met and her non acceptance of the apology (I'm also assuming that the apology from the kids was probably insincere).

Intriguing. Then again, if your job was to ride along with school kids all day, would you come across as a nice person? I used to think our school crossing guard was mean and scary. Now I look back and think about how many hours she had to spend around children trying to throw themselves in traffic, and I have forgiven her everything.

On AdAge?  I have seen Facebook but never joined. What I have seen is a bunch of political, religious and other divisive posts, "repost this if..." posts, vacation and baby photos, useless updates, etc. What I have heard from friends is a lot of Facebook-generated gossip and drama. The premise that teens prefer Twitter because it is (mostly) none of those things makes complete sense to me, and it's why 40-something me went straight to Twitter as my social network of choice when I took the plunge a few months ago.

I thought this was a weird piece. It drew conclusions based on the anecdotal evidence of one user -- a teen his wife happens to be related to.


And Facebook groups are just like real life groups. If your friends tend to be gossipy and catty in real life, they'll bring that drama online. If they don't, they won't. It's not the platform that's the issue, it's the people on it. (My friends are just lovely, and my wall is drama-free).


The chats that exist just don't do enough to keep me through the week. Response to poll is E, It is good that people are trying to do something to alleviate this woman's suffering, but the real lesson of how to recognize and stop bullying seems to have been lost. The response is after the fact and someone finally speaks up then everyone joins in. I wish that more people would be willing to be that first person. Its also a shame that the parents of these students just seem to have a meh attitude towards teaching their children. A chance for a bigger life lesson was probably lost here.

So, once the bullying video came out, what do you think the right solution would have been?


I assume lots of people gave money because they felt horrible about what they had seen, and wanted to help. Do you think there was a better action that individuals could have chosen?


(And keep sending in opposing/supporting views, all).

I am glad you appreciated the comment that you look nicer in person than in photos. First, I think you look terrific in the photos I have seen. Your Twitter picture should be sold as a poster. Yet, I always wonder if that is a compliment. Is the person saying "you take terrible photos". I have heard the revere, which I think is worse: "you're saying I look much worse than I do in photos?". I have heard people blurt this out to actors, and that often is true, as we often do not perceive that someone is often shorter than they appear on screen (TV even does tricks: look at how small the furniture on talk shows really is), or doesn't wear make up all the time. So, I don't know what you look like in person, but you look great in your host photo and your Twitter photo.

I think it's meant to be a compliment. It also means that we must take the attractiveness level of every single person we have only seen in photos, and multiply it by two. Deal?

Good example of one way life was better before the internet, or BEST example?

What, this?

You had to cringe for this girl. You just knew the Internet was not going to be kind.

No pressing tech questions, just wanted you to know that I missed this chat (and I mean that in a nice way, not a chastizing "why did you miss last week" way). But if you have time, can you explain reddit to me? Is it different than tumblr?

But of course.

Tumblrs are blogs run by individual people. Dan Zak and I, for example, run the Style section's Tumblr. We post our own stuff, and we also follow lots of other Tumblrs that we like.  (Just like you would follow something on Twitter).


Reddit is not a collection of blogs. Reddit is an aggregating site where anyone with a Reddit account can suggest an article or image they find interesting -- whether or not they were originally responsible for the content. Posts get voted up or down, depending on how popular they are to other readers.


Does that make sense? Really, the difference will become clear by spending a few hours on each -- though to get the full Tumblr experience, you need to have an account.



Heya Monica- If we want to submit a ? for your new column rather than the chat, do we sent it somewhere different or do you pull from the chat queue? On that note, do we need to pull a "Hax" and say note "online only" if we submit for the chat and do not want it potentially used in a column? With so many Post chatters making chats into columns lately (or 'excerpts from chats' being put in the paper ala. Sietsema) I'm not sure what the rules/expectations are anymore. Thanky!

Excellent question.

You may either submit a question to the chat, or you may email me directly at You can choose whichever method you're more comfortable with, though one benefit to e-mailing directly is that it allows me to ask follow-up questions. When I pull from the chat, I'm looking for questions that I think I'll be better able to thoughtfully address when I have more time to research/think and more space to fully flesh out an answer.


And yes -- if you have a question you really prefer stay online only, you can flag it that way. But you have a better chance of getting an answer if you okay a possible print column. And, as a reminder, everything is published anonymously, no matter how you submit.

If memory serves, wasn't your "were Southern California" vacation during your birthday. If so, how may we all sing a collective "Happy Birthday" to you through the Internet, and will we face royalty charges?

I was, and you may. We're all another year older, friends.

Definitely D. But I'd also like to add that it also makes me feel squeemish because it in effect turns personal hardship into a lottery, and I have serious issues with that.

"Personal hardship into lottery." That's a good phrase for a concept I was struggling hard to articulate. Both Karen Klein and Anita Sarkeesian were victims of wretched abuse. But was it any more than others experience on a daily basis?

I'm glad I'm not the only one that felt more of an Ick factor with the donations to Ms. Klein. I certainly can't get behing the "we, humanity, won't put up with this." I couldn't help but think of the poor bus monitor on some other suburban road the next week who probably was putting up with some equally painful torture but didn't have the bit of luck to be taped and you-tube'd by the witless bully. I doubt any single dollar of the $500k+ quelled any other bullying attempt.

Perhaps it did, if only because the hypothetical bullies decided they didn't want to get in the trouble that these donkeys did.

(Due to my work schedule I'm never able to join you live, but always try and catch up later) Can you please discuss Twitter for a few moments. Is there some type of Tweeting Etiquette that dictates how often and how many times a Twitterer should be Tweeting the same Tweet? I know those people who follow 8000+ people can't keep up, but why does that mean I need to see the same Tweet over and over and over again. I'm mainly annoyed with a certain site that also ends in Post but starts with a H and some blogs I follow. I don't want to unfollow a news site I like, but especially those tweets about a certain family that like the letter K so much are really annoying, especially after the 3rd, 4th, 5th, time. Who do I go to for an official ruling on this?

The repeat Tweets are annoying, I get that. But I also get the impulse to do it. If I've written a story I'm really proud of, I want to share it with everyone -- not just with the 30 people who happen to be logged on at the minute I'm Tweeting it out.


Personally, I appreciate when the Tweeter acknowledges that it's a repost. Something along the lines of, "Pardon the repeat, but it's the last day for Girl Scout cookies if you want to order." Or whatever the cause may be.


And for heaven's sake, don't make a habit of it. Doing this once every few weeks is fine. Every day is not.

Ever since you highlighted the Harvard baseball team's "Call Me Maybe" video, whenever this song is on at a stoplight, I have been "doing the Harvard baseball" to it. I blame you, Monica.

I'm sure there's a mild cardio workout involved there.

Hi Monica, I assume you weren't in the UP but just in the northern portion of the Michigan mitten. Where did you go? Traverse City, Harbor Springs, Petoskey?

Mackinac Island, Grayling (about 90 minutes from both Mackinac and Traverse City) plus a few days in Detroit. Family 'n' friends tour.

I understand the schools position on the students suspension for 1 year, and don't begrudge them that, but if these students were so willing (and their parents not monitoring) to post the original video of the incident online, then a public apology to her would have been also appropriate. As would their plan of how they are going to make it up to her. Them, not their parents. I read somewhere that someone suggested that for that 1 year they do chores around the house for her. Something like that I think would have been appropriate.

Thanks for writing in again.

Are we at the point where people no longer feel the need to respond to Facebook event invites? My friends are all over the map in terms of social media, so I really don't want to have to send a Facebook invite, an evite, separate emails and texts, but it also seems like people aren't acknowledging FB event invites anymore (and it's not b/c they don't like me anymore, I think).

Honestly, I get spammed so much on Facebook invites that it's hard for me to tell whether I've been personally invited to a private party, or whether you've sent out a mass announcement to all of your 400 friends, along the lines of "Hey, everyone, I'm in a play that opens on the 14th."


If I think it's the first, I'll try to RSVP. If I think it's the second, I might not bother. But sometimes its hard to tell the different.


Chatters? What do you think the best foolproof online invite is?

Not to cast aspersions on someone who's already suffered, but doesn't the fact that she couldn't handle the heckling/bullying of schoolchildren mean she wasn't qualified for the job she was actually hired for? I mean, if this was a schoolteacher who couldn't control her classroom, would we as a society being throwing cash at her, or would we think, umm, well, maybe she shouldn't be a teacher?

I thought this, too. Though we should remind ourselves that a 10 minutes clip of anyone at work is not necessarily indicative of how well they normally perform their job.

You're lucky -- I'm the opposite. I am weirdly photogenic, but I'm really funny-looking in person. I would love to look like my driver's license picture in real life. Seriously.

A photographer friend once told me it's all about facial proportions and the way the lens interprets them. He said, for example, that photos tend to make people's chins look bigger and eyes look smaller. So if, in real life, you have a tiny chin and huge eyes, you'll look tremendous in photos because it will all balance out.

If you could be there (tell me you are going and I will beg to be wrapped up in your carry-on suitcase) what would be the 1 or 2 things that you would most want to see?

I'm not, alas. Maybe I'll make it a goal for next year. If I were going, I'd line up for the Game of Thrones panel and Breaking Dawn 2. (Don't judge, people).

Bullying seems to be a team sport. There is a video on youtube under search: "Fight Bully Takes A Beating" where a swarm of them gang-up on a target, but only one of them goes in for the fight. This is pretty close to what I go thru daily; but instead of one person attacking, it’s all of them

"Sport" is an accurate term, I think. Because it's only fun for the bully if they have an appreciative audience, right?

I don't really have a question (yet, anyway) but just ran home from an appointment so I could catch this chat. So glad you are back. Yes, I guess I am addicted. Thank you for being here so I can get my fix. I *really* missed you!

I am so glad you are here!

Ok, could you please explain the attraction of HBO's Girls? I'm 20 something woman, and I've not been able to watch a full episode of that show without turning it off. I seriously want to smack those self absorbed twits upside the head. I get that it's supposed to be cringe-inducing at times (awkward sex!), but the main characters are narcissistic to point of being caricatures I can't identify with.

Felt the same way for the first five episodes (so why did I keep watching? Dunno. I really wanted to get it). Around the episode involving the epic party in Brooklyn -- did you get that far? -- the show either got better or I warmed to the characters. By the finale, I didn't like it again. Complex emotions, Girls.

Am i supposed to respond to Facebook invites? Maybe because I have never posted anything other than photos and I am not on Facebook much, so I hope people do not think I am being rude. I never respond. I don't even know what most of the invites mean No, I don't want a sheep from Farmville. And I have no idea what Angry Birds are, but I know if they ever invade, we have a nation full of people ready to defend us from them.

I think the OP was talking not of Farmville invites but of actual, real-life event invites sent through Facebook. Nooobody responds to Farmville invites. You are safe.

I really want to just shake her by the shoulders. Because you're 22 and employed now doesn't mean you will be in a year, or a month. Or that you won't endure some hardship that will challenge you and shape your character. I know our pop culture has idealized the struggling artist plotline, but it's not like if you can pay your rent, you don't have life experiences. For example, at 22 you just made it clear to a national audience that you're self-involved and immature. This experience is certainly going to teach you some lessons.

All of this is correct.

The thing that's crtical to grasp about Reddit is that the mainpage is not one site, but an amalgamation of different "subreddits" each appealing to specific interests -- politics, funny, videos, etc. These subreddits are each preceded with an "r/", so the local DC subreddit is When you first go to without an account, you're getting a preset lists of the most popular subreddits. Many of these are annoying: r/politics and for some reason r/atheism is among the presets. What you need to do is sign up for an account, then go to the control panel and unsubscribe from subreddits that don't appeal to you and then find and subscribe to subreddits that you find interesting that aren't listed in the presets, r/dc being the one that everyone in DC should add. If you have an interest no matter how geeky or unusual, there is almost certainly a subreddit for it. Part of the fun is finding them.

Thanks for the elaboration. Excellent.

Well, she was being videoed, so I'm betting the little idiots who were doing so we're hoping she would blow up, or grab the camera or something. Actually, I wish she had grabbed the camera, then grabbed the videographer by the collar and slammed his face repeatedly into the bus window. That's what a nun from the 1950s would have done.

That version of the story also would have become a viral video.

Can you explain (or point me to an internet article or something) the culture surrounding LinkedIn? Is it normal for strangers to try connect with you if you're in their industry? Are you supposed to try to connect with strangers if you're job hunting in their industry? I can't really get a feel for how to use it to network and can't tell if it's common practice to meet people through the site or only connect with people you already know.

LinkedIn isn't something I use enough to know the culture. Anyone here want to take a stab?

That totally explains Allison, a recent Top Model winner.

Her? Whoa.

Ugh, I agree with the previous poster. I just can't handle shows where they make the characters unlikeable. I disliked SATC for this reason. My good friend had a part in the first movie and I still couldn't force myself to watch it!

Who is your friend? I might have just watched that movie on E! and so all of the characters, even the minor cameos, are still fresh in my mind.

It seems even Sesame Street has gotten onto the Call me Maybe bandwagon.

It's either the end of the meme or the true beginning.

Here's a revamp of my question: I've noticed an explosion of teacher blogs, mostly on tumblr, along with a lively community on the #education tag page. I can see how this is valuable for casual professional development and collaborate between professionals. How are they seen by non teachers? Are people interested in what happens in classrooms? Or seeing that teachers have lives outside of school (as long as its appropriate, of course)? Some of my favorites are GirlWithALessonPlan, AllisonUnsupervised, HeyMissAt, and TomesAwayFromHome which are a good blend of real classroom experiences and the lives they lead outside of school too.

As a non-teacher, I don't regularly read these blogs, but when I do, I'm fascinated by them. For most parents (Heck, most adults), it's been decades since they've spent real time in a grade school classroom. It's healthy to see what's changed and what hasn't. And it's an interesting intersection of the classroom and the Internet when teachers' blogs have real-world implications (like in the case of Philly-area teacher Natalie Munroe, who was fired after the contents of her blog came to light).


Off the topic of blogs, but on the topic of classrooms -- I had the occasion to spend three days in a fifth grade classroom during their last week of school. The article is here. I think I love it more than anything I've written.

Awhile back I asked if I was missing anything by not being on Pinterest and a fun bit of banter ensued (how bout those Nats!). An article you wrote a few weeks ago dealt with a male-oriented pinterest and I have to say, I am even less interested in the male version of Pinterest. It really does seem dated and I tend to dislike hyperbolic "guy" things like Manswers, etc. Have you followed up with that site to see if they've taken off?

The site was Dudepins. I haven't followed up with it, but I wasn't hugely impressed by what I saw in the early stages. Wasn't unimpressed, either. Just...meh.

I think she should start an anti-bullying campaign and use the money to fund it. Then the amount of money she was given would seem appropriate. Otherwise, it's just another example of how Americans pay attention when something is on the news and don't give a rat's tuchus about it otherwise. And that part is really sad.

I'm sure the influx of money was also helped by the fact that we actually -have- been paying quite a bit of attention to bullying recently, both through campaigns like Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" campaign and through documentaries like "Bully." (Which I haven't seen. Is it good?)

I sometimes receive connection requests from people I don't know - so I click on "ignore" and then the option that says "I don't know (name)". This is because my approach to LinkedIn is to think of it as my own Rolodex - where if I meet someone or know someone who I would be willing to refer to others or connect other people to. I very much use it as a professional site not a social thing - although if I meet people in a social setting and they invite me to connect, I will. But I don't want random people on my contact list since I wouldn't be able to vouch for them or explain to someone else how I know them (if they turn out to be dicey). Disclaimer: This is also coming from someone who isn't on Facebook in part b/c I don't want to have to "friend" people that I'm not actually real friends with). So I'm not likely to want to connect online with people I don't know. But I do have friends who use LinkedIn to meet people and to try to find connections in their field(s). In sum, I don't thnk there's one ettiquette - it really depends on your motivations for being on the site and how you want to use it.

Posting this perspective.

I say D Bad. Or at least not good. What real value did compensating that one person serve, other than as you put it, making the donors feel better about themselves? Seems more productive/beneficial to perhaps set up a fund for the broader good, such as educating ignoramuses about how hurtful and well, evil, such degrading behavior is.

Anyone out there who wants to support A or B? I've gotta say, I'm personally in the D camp, but I thought I would be in the pillorized minority.

When I saw that video, I automatically flashed back to all the times I was teased or taunted in middle and elementary school. I bet other people did too. It's probably why she was able to raise $500,000 so easily. She is us.

Or the flipside: Ex-bullies flashed back to the times when their 12-year-old selves picked on others, and donated out of guilt. I'm sure some of that went on as well.

Love this. "They have 48 arms and 47 usable legs, the discrepancy belonging to the right ankle of SaAnkhessa, who broke her foot when she jumped off a rock during Field Day — an event that none of her friends realized had happened (lots of people had already jumped off the rock without incident) until she came back school with a hot-pink cast, which everyone immediately signed."

Thank you (from my Fifth Grade story).

When I go onto my Facebook page, I always switch the sort order to "Most Recent." I want to know how Facebook KNOWS which of my friends' posts are the "Top Stories?" To whom are they the top stories, and what makes them so?

It's a combination, I think, of which posts have gotten the most comments and likes already, and which people you most regularly check in with. So, a post written by my brother (I frequently check out his Facebook page) with a lot of comments would be a Top Story for me.

What exactly is Piniterest? I am gathering from context that people take a location, like a store, and then like or "pininerest" it, and then post this for the world/Twiter/Facebooks(?) to see. How close am I?

You are teasing me. Right?

I don't have an answer to this, I just wanted to say this is actually a much larger issue. I was thinking about this just the other day--there are so many ways to get in touch with a person, but everyone has a preferred method. I have to remember now that my brother will respond ONLY to text messages, but not to ever text my in-laws because it's not on their plan. For them, it's best to send a group email. I can't use group email to make plans with my family because none of them have figured out how to use "reply all". My old work friends must be contaced using Facebook messanger, my best friend will only answer her cellphone, etc etc. I have to admit I'm not much better, because I often forget to charge my cellphone. If there's a solution, I sure haven't found it--the best I've come up with is, if I want an answer, I'd better make sure I use their preferred mode of communication.

You have just described the great state of communication in 2012.

Neo needs to fight zombies.

Zombies so 2010. Neo needs to fight banshees.

When I lost my job, I started using Linked In much more often. I used it to connect with people I know in my field and also to look for jobs. And, I have 3 letters of recommendation on there from previous employers, so I added my profile link to my resumé. I have some friends who have more than 500 connections and I am pretty sure they don't really know all of those people but there are interest groups through the site and I think that is a good way to network when you are job hunting. As for my connections, though, I only have people I actually know, either from the workplace or personally.


How does the fifth grade classroom you observed compare with the fifth grade classroom you attended in fifth grade?

It seemed three times more chaotic and exhausting. Which, of course, it wasn't. It was just that I was now seeing it from a grown-up perspective and identifying with the teacher's impossible job more than the students.

Maybe it's because I was sort of her 6 years ago (and only 6, mind you), but I rather get her point. I don't know if other generations didn't feel this way (I imagine before the 20th century they didn't), but it does feel weird as a Millenial to settle into a predictable life. It feels weird to be hitting your adult stride - starting your career, planning your retirement, paying your rent. Oddly enough once those first few milestones were over the rest - marriage, home ownership, baby - felt way less limiting and awkward. I wouldn't say that being 22 and actually doing the adult thing is something to be lamenting or struggling with, but it does feel weird at first.

I think you're giving her point a lot of credit. Sure, it's weird to suddenly have to show up someplace by 9 a.m., or have to figure out how your dental insurance works, etc. etc.


But she wasn't really saying, "Gosh, this is weird." She was saying, "Woe is me, it's so haaaard to have a well-paying job with benefits, but I guess I deserve it because I worked so haaaard, unlike all of my cohorts, who were lazy."

It's a tonal problem, not a content problem. It's the equivalent of the humblebraggers in our Facebook Smackdown a few weeks ago.

I have to ask: are rape jokes ever funny? Relatedly, while I understand the uproar of the Tosh incident, I also get that it was an overstated attempt to talk down a heckler (vice a call for violence against women, or, in particular that woman). Even if the "victim" disagreed with (while apparently misunderstanding) the premise of the purposely overbroad joke, unfortunately, it wasn't an open forum for her to share her disagreement, and, accordingly, it shouldn't have been unexpected that the vulgar comedian would react vulgarly. But, alas, none of this was the subject of my original question, so I shall cease this line of thought, and posit, as an answer to my original question: apparently George Carlin thought so (at this point I really wish my employer didn't block access to certain websites so I could link the Porky Pig/Elmer Fudd joke in this space)....

Rape jokes are never, ever funny. Not on Twitter, not in person, not ever. And if you find yourself saying, "My comments were taken out of context" -- if the context was, "I tried to tell a joke about rape," then you are wrong.


(Google Daniel Tosh and rape joke if you missed this hubbub. We're low on time and I can't link right now)

LinkedIn is meant to be more selective. The "proper" way to make connections is to leverage the connections you have -- use them to make connections with people you'd like to network with and get to know. The exception is if you get to know someone through mutual participation in a LinkedIn Group. I also won't connect with someone I don't personally know, unless I've been introduced. A bit 18th century, but it's all about your professional connections and reputation and how LinkedIn was set up to begin with; a recommendation on LinkedIn is supposed to really mean something.


I thought Linkedin would be useful in finding a job, but no luck. Then again, I only recently realized I had accidentally, instead of using my photo, put up a photograph of Nicolas Cage instead.

The greatest thing that happened on the Internet this week.

Out of time, again. But next week I'll be back. I shall re-earn your trust, I shall.


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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