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

Aug 01, 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 welcome to the first chat I shall conduct while on leave. I'm not wandering around in my pajamas yet, but we can certainly hold out hope for next week.
Today I thought we'd start out with a series of questions about stealing. Please rank each of the following scenarios on a scale of 1 to 5, one being "Your actions are pure and reasonable," and 5 being, "You dirty thief." For the purposes of this poll, answer what you feel is morally correct, not what our legal system currently prosecutes.
You bought a book from Barnes and Noble last week, but today you accidentally left it on your desk when you left work. At home, you find a blog where someone has scanned the entire book. You decide to read it.
You bought a book from Barnes and Noble two months ago, but left it on the bus before you could finish it. At home, you find a blog where someone has scanned the entire book. You decide to read it.
You own a copy of your favorite old movie on VHS, but no longer have a working VCR. You find that the movie is available for streaming on You watch it.
Your parents (or children, depending on your age) have an HBO subscription, which allows them to watch programs on You mention that you'd like to see "Game of Thrones," and they offer to give you their password, saying that the account is meant for family. You -are- immediate family, though you don't live together. You borrow the password.

I voted 1 for all of them, because all of them involved payment that had already been made. With the books, you had already *bought* them. The author had been given recompense, as had the publisher. Movie-you had bought a copy previously. HBO-someone is paying for the subscription, and you ARE family. It's like software licenses. Now, if there was no payment involved/not immediate family, etc., then I'd bump it up to a 3-4, because you have not paid for the content, and the author/artists/etc. have received no pay for it. That is not cool.

I'm just curious -- if there was no payment involved, you said you'd bump it up to a three or four. Why not a five? What would it take you to bump it up all the way?

What flavor sundae did you have at our favorite hamburger and dairy store?

A marshmallow sundae with rocky road ice cream, nuts and a cherry. Not a usual order for me, but I felt like expanding.

(I was in Oklahoma for a story last week, Tweeting on my newfound love of Braum's dairy.)

The new guy at work has friended all of us on FB. He has a friend who is older than him who comments on everything he writes. A couple of people know her and think she's got a crush on him. He's become an office joke pretty fast. Should I say something to him? He's a great guy and I don't want his work to suffer because gossipers think he has a May-September romance with a married woman.

Say nothing. He's probably aware that this woman is overly effusive on his profile, but there's not much he can do besides unfriend her or say, "Ma'am, stop it." Which is unlikely.

Everyone has a few Facebook acquaintances who are hellbent toward embarrassment. Sometimes its an older ladyfriend, sometimes it's a clueless mom. ("Look, Fred, at these pictures I found of you trying on my bra when you were three!") You wouldn't want to be judged by yours, so leave it be.

1 and 2 -- bought the book, but can't read it right then. I think these are both 3.5's. It's a copyright violation no matter what, and having bought the book doesn't undo that. 3--movie on Can't answer b/c I don't know what that is. 4--HBO. 5. It's stealing, flat out. (please note that I also think moving to "better" seats at a baseball game is stealing, something I get endless grief about from my friends)

Thanks. Megavideo (or PirateBay, or Alluc, or countless others) is a site in which users upload videos. It's sort of like YouTube, except instead of user-created videos, you're more likely to find television shows or movies.


You are exceptionally pure.

All of these are reasonable. You or an immediate family member bought the product. The creators were paid for their work. No point making everyone suffer by watching Game of Thrones at your parents' or childrens' homes where they could let you watch their HBO shows and no one would think that was wrong.


Let me ask a follow-up question to the group. Is there a statute of limitations, in your mind, when it comes to owning something? For example, if I bought and read a book that was assigned in college, could I then 10 years later feel justified in downloading it online? Sure -- I paid for it once. But that was years ago, and the price has gone up, and the edition has probably changed.

Seen this? "Car Thief Who Was High on Drugs and Masturbating When He Plowed Into Portland Crime Scene Will Not Have to Register as Sex Offender"

I bet the police giggled about this.

Heard anything? Are they charging an arm and a leg for it like regular Outlook? The Slate headline says it doesn't invade your privacy like gmail, but I can't read the article since I'm at work (link is blocked). If they aren't invading your privacy, how are they making money?

I know nothing. I still use Yahoo! for my personal stuff. Don't mock.

1: 1, 2: 1 (not least of all because your dedication to reading the book NOW is so fierce), 3: 2 - not cool, but if you're willing to shell out for a DVD player (and you probably are), you should at least have the courtesy to burn it from a friend and not leave an e-trail. 4: 2 - you're likely stretching the definition the company intended, but they haven't taken any extra precautions to stop you. Oh, 1 if you're the parent, because you gave birth to these kids and they still owe you.


Okay. Lots of people seem to think four is okay, or mostly, because of the "family" clause. What if it wasn't a parent's account, but, say, a niece's? Or a friend's?

I would consider all of these things to be okay. In all the cases except for the HBO, I have at one time paid for the content. It is not my job to patrol the internet to see if other people's copyrights have been infringed--again, I have paid for the book or the video at one time. I guess the HBO is a teeny bit sketchy, but I could justify it on the bases that I could also go to my Mom's house at any time and watch it for "free" on demand. Things I will NOT do: download music unless it is a legitimate giveaway, purchase pirated DVD's or luxury items, photocopy knitting patterns from books I do not own. In real life I subscribe to Netflix, purchase all my music from iTunes, subscribe to HBO and take my kid to the library to borrow books.

So just to be clear -- if you hadn't paid for the book at one time, you wouldn't feel it was okay to download it online?

You snatch the book off a table at Barnes and Noble, and take hostages.

Snort. What if I downloaded a book illegally online and then took hostages? (You see where I'm going. Will you ever view online, virtual theft the way that you view the theft of physical objects?)

OP here. To me a five is theft like pocketing it in a store. I know, I know, it's still "theft", in that I am reading/viewing something I didn't pay for *in that moment.* But I did just pay for the book. As for the movies, this is a bit different. Some old movies aren't on DVD/Blu-Ray. For example, as a kid I loved Rainbow Bright and the Star Stealer. I would get some pleasure in watching that again on say, YouTube or whatnot, because it doesn't exist on DVD. So my feeling there is if the companies want to get paid, then they need to give me a DVD to buy, which I will gladly do.

Rainbow Brite on DVD! Voila!

5 to all four questions. Yes, the book has already been scanned and you didn't do it. But, someone did, illegally, and that someone deprived the author of income. Therefore, you are a thief, plain and simple.

Are you an author, or in an otherwise creative profession? I find that people who produce art for a living are much more sympathetic to copyright and the work that goes into it.

who schedules meetings from 2-3 on Wednesdays? Aren't they aware of the serious conflict that exists? Regardless, I will just guess you're going to get a lot of comments on news outlets "ruining" the olympics by posting results. I disagree in a lot of ways. I knew I woudl be spoiled on the women's gymnastics results by going to the gym, where it is impossible to avoid tvs, so peeked at the post's website yesterday afternoon. I was still pretty giddy watching last night, adn even a little teary that those girls pulled it off. Knowing the end result didn't change the joy. That said, it's news, people, and news outlets shouldn't cease reporting news just because the news will be televised here later.

I've found this process really fascinating to watch. After spending the past four or five years demanding our information Right Now, learning when celebrities die via Twitter and then berating news organizations for not having the info quickly enough, we suddenly want to revert to 1980 this Olympics. "No thanks. I'll wait until the evening news, thanks."


Further, it's fascinating that the term "spoiler," which originated to describe ruining TV shows or movies, is now being used to describe real lives. It's not ruining the plot, people. It's describing real life.

Also, who would make you miss the chat? Evil.

Reminds of this comic strip:

Oh, it is true. And this is wonderful.

Book left on desk - 1 (You still own the book, accessing it electronically doesn't seem wrong to me) Book left on bus - 3 (You lost the book, so it doesn't seem fair that you get a new crack at it, but you also did already pay for the content. Kind of a toss-up to me) VHS - 2 (not a 1 because you are getting markedly better quality of video, but fundamentally not a problem) HBO - 4 (Not a 5 because someone is paying for access) HBO (and many other online video providers *NBC Olympics*) infuriate me by not letting me give them my money, but it is still basically wrong to access content that you haven't paid for (in violation of HBOs rules) just because you want to. I waited and then went and bought the DVDs for GoT because it is theirs and they can decide how to make it available (even if I do think it is a stupid business decision).

I was really curious to see how many people -- if any -- would see a distinction between the first and the second scenario. In both cases, we're talking about a book you have paid for. Two things have change, though: the distance of time since you bought it, and where the book currently is. If you lose a book on the bus and then try to tell Barnes and Noble they owe you a new one, they'll look at you like you're crazy. So why would we think that we still "own" it, in the sense that we could feel free to download it online?



I think moving to better seats at baseball games is wrong too! I put all 4's because "you dirty thief" is a little harsh. The problem with the first three is that your actions implicitly support sites that put out material allow others to steal. For the last one, I think we can all guess that HBO intends that for a household, not immediate family in other households. It doesn't pass the "I'd be OK seeing a story about me doing that on the front page of the paper" test.

First, this is an excellent test. I like it better than, "I'd be okay with my mom knowing I did this," because, let's face it, your mom might have the same skewed code that you do.


Second, this is the first time I think we've been presented with this particular argument, which, as I understand it, is this: You might have paid for that content, so you, yourself, are not such a bad guy. But the site in general supports sleazy behavior, and by dowloading something there, you are supporting the site. It's skeezy behavior, a few steps removed.

Catherine of Braganza, for whom Queens borough in New York City is named for, introduced tea and the fork to England.

Thank you. This seems very important. Where did Catherine learn about forks herself?

This is why I refuse to be "friends" with ANYONE I work with, anywhere. I'm surprised more companies don't have a HR policy about it.

Yeah, I was going to point this out. To me, it's a cautionary tale for allowing your work life to bleed into your personal life online.

If it was a niece's or friend's HBO account, then 5. I still have Netflix info from "our" account with my ex, but never use it because we're not "family" anymore. As for the 10-year rule you proposed, I would say that unless the video/book is no longer in print, that's a 5. Seriously, whatever it is that you enjoy from your childhood VHS collection isn't more than $5 new or used, unless we're talking Star Wars or something. But for the Sister Acts, Land Before Times, and Sandlots of our youth, just pony up.

Thanks. And just to be clear -- I wasn't proposing any rule. I was just trying to suss out where our boundaries are.

FWIW, most of the scenarios I cited were ones I have personally encountered in the past few weeks. I shan't tell you how purely I behaved.

Monica, you have made my day. Seriously. (Well you and the USA gymnastics team...still riding that high from last night. )

Gabby Douglas!

You asked "Are you an author, or in an otherwise creative profession?" No, just honest and law-abiding and I don't side that just because something is convenient for me. Call me strange and/or old-fashioned.

Admirable adjectives.

If I buy a book or a movie do I rightfully own that content, no matter what format it comes in? Does Gone With the Wind end different on blu-ray than it does on VHS? Just like K in Men in Black, how many times do I have to buy the White Album? From a strictly legal aspect I have to pay for each new version, but am I going to feel guilty about not doing so? Hell no.

The multiple formats that content is now available in have truly messed with the concept of "ownership."

Why is he becoming the joke instead of the pathetic woman who has a crush on him? Give the guy a break.

I mean, unless all of her posts start with "Dear Snookums."

Megavideo was shut down several weeks ago. Which sucks because I caught up on several seasons of NCIS after coming to the series late a couple of years ago. I have no shame...

Fortunately/Unfortunately, when I just typed "watch NCIS online" into Google, many different sites of varying legality popped up.

The only one (IMNSHO) that is bad is #4. In the first 3, you paid already and if you had the book or the proper equipment, you would read/view your copy. For the last, it's pretty bad - I'd say 4. Why not get a "family" membership and share with all 75+ members of your extended family? However, should state in their agreement that viewing can be done on no more than a specific number of machines. I believe Netflix (and their streaming video service) does something like that. Maybe it states all equipment must be "based" at the same household but it limits to keep 1 person from paying and many from using.

You want to watch Game of Thrones, and suddenly your definition of "family" quadruples.

What's up with that? Presumably, if you're posting it, you agree with the sentiment of the post. Looking for insight into this...

I've seen that, but mostly done by newbies who are still learning the rules and mores of the site. Otherwise...I have no logical explanation. Anyone else?

I will grant that I'm more than slightly biased on the book issues because I'm a writer, but I'm a 5 on both of those. We really shouldn't encourage book thieves, and even if you've bought it previously, probably most of the people downloading the stolen books (and yes, stolen) haven't. The "bought it once" argument doesn't really hold water for me - I've bought cds when I've owned something on vinyl (okay, I'm old) and ebooks when I've owned something in paper. Different formats, and it costs money to produce them. People should be compensated for their work. The only one I'm a 1 on is the last scenario, and probably only for 1st degree relatives. Niece and step-grandmother wouldn't cut it.

Thanks, fellow writer. I salute you.

I think I would say something. Other people have noticed it and are starting to gossip which crosses over the line from the poster being the one to notice it. Think of it as having toilet paper on your shoe or food in your teeth - most people would say something.

But he doesn't have food in his teeth. This is the equivalent of saying, "We couldn't help but notice that the friend of yours who stopped by the office had food in her teeth."


This is a situation where only four letters of instruction are needed: MYOB.

If we'd woken up two Saturdays ago to, "Big News in Colorado last night, live on ABC World News tonight! Tune in at 6:30pm ET to find out!" we would have crapped our pants as a nation. But postponing the results of a GLOBAL event until USA primetime is okay? It reeks of ethnocentrism. It's NBC's fault, plain and simple, for goofing up their exclusive coverage in the electronic age. It really, truly is now or never [ever, EVER hear the end of someone's whining].

I think the ethnocentricism angle you bring into this is interesting -- though most of the complaints I see aren't directed toward the world media, but toward, say, The Washington Post for putting results on their homepage.

I think I might need more info. For 1 and 2, to what degree would the blogger benefit from having someone visit their site? If they're not getting anything out of it (monetarily), then I think it's fine. The reader has paid for the material properly, so they need not feel guilty for consuming it in that fashion. But the blogger has certainly done something wrong, so if they are receiving ad revenue or something due to the reader visiting their site, then the reader is supporting that illegal activity. In that case, I think the reader has something to feel guilty about.


Here's another question. If you illegally download a movie and watch it and it sucks, do you feel less guilty?

For reasons that made absolutely no sense and that I cannot fully explain, probably.

I'll use the 50 Shades of Grey example. I did buy the book on my Kindle, after it became apparent that I would be culturally ignorant if I didn't read it. But -- if I weren't afraid of being caught -- I probably wouldn't have had a high level of guilt associated with reading it illegally. First, the book is terrible. Second, the author was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for her terrible book and is doing fine financially. Third, the book itself was originally written as Twilight fan fiction, parasiting off of Stephenie Meyer's characters.

Still not saying the act would be justifiable, but that's how I'd justify it.

Perhaps she herself invented them. Why don't people think of that possibility? ;-)

Then wouldn't she have named them "Catherines?"

The HBO subscription isn't for family. It's for the subscriber. This is stealing. It's also how I'm watching Game of Thrones. HBO is too expensive.

It is. But I finally got a subscription and I looove it.

With the poor performance of Facebook's stock, do you think that Facebook might be a long fad that people will eventually get tired of? I really really hope so.

It will absolutely be a fad we eventually get tired of -- not because of the stock, but because of human nature and the constant desire for something new. The question is what will come next.

Gossiping about crushes? High School BS never ends, does it?


Do these people also have a problem with borrowing a book from a friend or the library because they have not paid for it? Why is it okay to buy the book used for a dollar at a garage sale, when that money won't go to the author, either? (For the record, I was one of the "bought it once, so download is okay" people.) On that note, I often wonder if the rise of e-readers hasn't helped authors. I thought this at the beach when there were three of us reading Gone Girl on our Kindles at the same time. Five years ago we would have all borrowed the same copy from a fourth friend.

Gone Girl is amazing, isn't it? The author and I share writers agencies. I pretend this means we are authors-in-law.

As a musician who makes no money from music and has no audience, I would be thrilled if someone would steal my music. At least someone would be listening to it.

This, in a nutshell, describes why it's so hard to be a writer or other artist these days. It's a wonderful thing that many people are willing to do for free, so some wonder why they should get paid at all.

I'm finally here with you live for a change instead of reading the script post-chat, yay for me! I vote 1-1-1-1 in your poll, but if you'd put something in there about not paying for music, I would have chosen a 5. For some reason, probably because I'm a fervent music fan and only a casual reader/movie-goer, the theft of a musician's livelihood and art strikes me as more offensive. Oh, and I am so glad to be an American who gets to watch the BBC during the Olympics. No horrid NBC coverage (I saw the glorious opening ceremony uninterrupted!) and no spoilers! GSTQ.

I actually excluded music from the list deliberately. With the history of Napster, and other assorted court cases, I thought people's perception of downloading music would just be too tainted. We already know it's WRONG.

if NBC had any morals or ethics at all, they would be showing me more stuff during the day LIVE and not waiting til later. Just saying. I mean,'s awful frustrating - I'm not staying up til 11 to watch, I couldn't watch the floor event, because I was going to SLEEP. Some of us do that at night.

Right. But most of us work during the day, and couldn't tune in for the 4 x 100 medley relay at 3 p.m. It's not a perfect situation, and every solution is bound to annoy someone. The only solution, therefore, is not be a deliberate jerk about things and try to give everyone a break.

Yes. All of them. It continually baffles me that just because something is digitized and easy to get means it's ok take what isn't yours. You bought a book people, not the right to read the story. No book, no read.

This is a great line: You bought a book people, not the right to read the story. No book, no read.


Catherine of Braganza hailed from Portugal, where forks were introduced from Italy by the Infanta Beatrice in 1405. The use of a fork was considered unmanly, as "God in his wisdom has provided man with natural forks – his fingers. Therefore it is an insult to Him to substitute artificial metallic forks for them when eating."

Thank you.

I don't think any of these are egregious. Why is okay for me to check books out of the library, for free, but not to read a book online that someone posted? I read close to 100 books a year from the library; I don't pay $15.99 for each one.

I know we have some librarians who frequent this chat, and also some publishing folk. Maybe one of them can explain the difference. The distribution and acquisition of books is a complicated thing in that world.

I may be using my powers of deduction for evil, but the clues suggest saying something IMHO. He's new at work and probably younger. He's a May and she's a September (less than 15 years diff?). Workers are speculating they are closer than married people should be. That can hurt somebody's career quickly. The other side of the coin is that everyone in that office needs to grow up. Hmmm...maybe that's why he say the young guy knows what losers he works with...

If the office feels so strongly that something needs to be said, I think a stronger argument could be made for approaching the older woman, who some of them apparently know, and saying, "You get a little flirty on Tom's Facebook wall. Are you sure he's okay with that? People have noticed." 


Rather than approaching Tom.

Anyone else think of the Winklevoss twins while watching Olympic 2-man rowing?

Winklevi, you mean.

The logical next question would be: You were planning to buy a book from Barnes and Noble, but today at home, you find a blog where someone has scanned the entire book. You decide to read it.

Well. Not really. All of the situations that I suggested were gray areas. That seems like pretty black and white stealing.

Am I still considered a loser for never having been on Facebook, or am I cool yet? It's funny, if you don't follow a fad or you join a fad late, you're a dork. But if you sit out long enough you cycle around to cool.

You will never be cool for this. I'm sorry, I don't know how else to say it. You could be cool if you had joined and, after several months, decided it wasn't for you. But you're deliberately avoiding an experience that is defining and shaping the way we communicate in this era. I know I sound judgmental, but I fundamentally cannot understand this lack of curiosity in how the world around you is functioning.

And now, off the soap box.


What about those people who read the books or magazines in Barnes and Noble in the comfy chair (insert Monty Python Spanish Inquisition joke here) without paying for them and put them back? To me, that's a 5. It ain't a library, pal.

I don't know -- are they buying $12 worth of coffee while they're there?

I've been tempted to try other ways to stream the Olympics b/c I don't have cable and think it's totally stupid that you need a cable subscription to watch NBC's streaming online coverage. I have also been tempted to illegally stream MLB games because I don't have cable (i.e., MASN) and I think that the blackout restrictions if I were to subscribe to are ridiculous. (Even if I paid to stream through, I would not be able to watch Nats or O's games because I am in a MASN zone.)

Something that ties two threads! Illegal streaming AND the Olympics!

why can't I like your answers! There should be a like button on everything. On and off line.

It's weird when online life intrudes on offline behaviors. The other day I really wanted to rewind something on my car radio, and momentarily forgot that I can only do that when I watch something online.

I check them out from the library and only buy them after I've read them as my way of saying "thank you and here is some money for your work because I thoroughly enjoyed it" to the author.

I love this.

most of y'all work during the day - BUT - find time to watch the NCAA bball tourney and other stuff. I guess I'm biased cause I used to work on a trading floor, and we watched tv on the big screens (REALLY big screens) all the time. BUT you have the internet to watch stuff on...

But...the NCAA tourney is shown mostly at night, isn't it? Am I crazy? Most of us who work in offices all day do not have the means or the time to watch large swathes of sporting events or movies while at work. Myself included -- and I work in an office where staying on top of this stuff is often part of my job.

IS NOT FREE. You pay for it in your taxes. NOT FREE AT ALL.

Calm down, Charlie Brown. We know that libraries are not free -- I was looking for an explanation of how much libraries themselves pay for books, and under what agreements.

Back in ye olden dayes, people would actually tote portable TVs to work from home in order to watch live sports events during the day. In fact, my HS Trig teacher would beg his wife to let him bring theirs so we could watch the World Series in class for the rest of the period after very quickly running through the day's lesson. (This was in the Bay Area in fall 1962, when the Giants were in the Series for the first time since moving west).

Sigh. I went to the wrong high school. Or the right one.

I swear people have no clue how they come across on Facebook. A friend of my now ex use to post on every single he posted - comments, links, etc and end every single statement with an emoticon wink. Drove me nuts but having met her in person, I know she was aware he had a girlfriend and seemed to like me. After we broke up, I started to post some very insightful yet passive aggressive comments about clinging to false hope (what? I was also eating ice cream every night for dinner). But then another friend went off the deep end post break up and posted every few hours about how miserable she was, how she couldn't eat, how she cried herself to sleep every single night. I stared at her posts and handed my password over to a trusted friend and walked away from Facebook. But sweet mother of mercy is it *killing* me to not post snarky comments during the Olympics.

I am glad you learned. You seem hilarious.

I'm not a librarian but with libraries there is a limited supply. The library buys X number of book Y and you have to wait your turn (my wife is 346 on the hold list for 50 Shades - I'm so embarrassed). This means a limited number of people can read the limited number of books at one time. For a scanned version online, one purchased copy can be read by everybody in the world at the same time.

Thank you. This is true even for libraries' e-copies. You still have to waid your turn to download it.


Don't be embarrassed for your wife. She's practicing cultural literacy.

Well, what if someone (i.e. me) has never been on Facebook because I simply can't be bothered? I'm sorry, but it's never interested me or remotely intrigued me. I'm just a private person. Do I really HAVE to join it?

No, of course you don't HAVE to. But you can never, ever say anything negative about the site, or make assumptions about what happens there, what it's good for, whether it's a waste of time. You only get to do those things if you have used it, thoroughly, and you are speaking from experience.

that other chatter is the only other person I've ever "met" who shares my theory on switching seats at baseball games being stealing. We are the definite minority, but I feel better knowing I'm no longer a minority of one.

I would like to introduce you two and send you to a lovely Nats game in the nosebleed seats.

"But you're deliberately avoiding an experience that is defining and shaping the way we communicate in this era. I know I sound judgmental, but I fundamentally cannot understand this lack of curiosity in how the world around you is functioning." Wow. I am not on FB and I don't have any interest in being on there. I aleady do a great job of networking and keeping in touch with my friends and seeing photo albums. I am not staying away from FB to be "cool" like original poster. I just don't see me not joining as a lack of curiousity about the world around me. I follow you blog, I am up on various sites and memes, But I only have so much time in the day and don't need another thing to add to it,

See my answer to the previous poster -- the one who was just a private person. I have less of a problem with people decidign Facebook is not for them, and more of a problem with people critiquing things they've remained deliberately ignorant about.

Google "library + 'fair use'"

Yes, but I can't right now because I am chatting with all of you!

was about a really rich guy and a really smart, professiona young woman. I didn't notice any young, smart, professional young women in Twilight. So how was it fan fiction?

Go back and read it again with the knowledge that the young woman was based on Bella from the Twilight series, and the rich guy was based on Edward, etc, etc. Fan fiction is not always a retelling of a story -- sometimes it just takes the author's original character and places them in new situations. In this case, the 50 Shades author aged Bella a few years, and made her a recent college grad. If I understand correctly, she only changed the names and identifying characteristics once the book had been accepted for publication.

The bashing of Facebook by non Facebook users seems to be a pet peeve with you. But is this a real thing? I've heard many people complain about Facebook - but always people who either are on it or have been at some point. I've never been on FB, but I've never complained about it either. How could I? I have NO IDEA how it works or what it's like. I do admit that I hope it goes away because it seems to be creating a lot of unnecessary drama in people's lives. But I'm not sure how it would be possible for me to dismiss something I'm unfamiliar with.

It's absolutely a real thing -- every week I get four or five messages from chatters saying, "I've never been on Facebook or seen the site but I know it's stupid because it's all people talking about what they had for breakfast or bragging about themselves."


In fact, I've got three or four in the queue that say that -at this very minute.- I don't post them because, well, what are you going to say, besides what I already have.


This isn't about the bashing of Facebook by non-Facebook users, though. I'd extend it to pretty much anything else in the world. "I know swimming is stupid though I've never tried it. I know Chicago is ugly though I've never been there." etc. etc.

True, our taxes pay for them, but "our is the operative word here. All of the non-book readers and amazon buyers are actually subsidizing my book reading so, in effect, I get a discount!


All right. That's all the time we have. In fact, we've gone over time. But I'll be back next week, though someone might have to Facebook me on Wednesday morning to remind me. Meanwhile, I'll go back to writing my own book, which I dearly hope people will pay for in some format or another.



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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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