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

Aug 22, 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. This morning, I recieved not one but three (!) emails from chatters reminding me not to forget today. Thanks, guys. Maybe next we can set up some kind of human alarm clock system for each other. We'll get started at 2. In the meantime please suggest discussion topics and/or feel free to waste copious amounts of time perusing the Honest Trailers series on YouTube, which my dad sent me yesterday (Thanks, Father Cupcake).

Additionally, we obviously must begin by discussing Prince Harry's nekked Las Vegas photos, published yesterday on TMZ. 


I'm not even sure where to start. So many possible avenues:

1) How do you feel about Harry doing this?

2) How do you feel about whomever sent the pictures to TMZ? (Geez, can't a royal trust the gals he invites up to his room and disrobes with anymore?)

3) Why is this important? (Is this important? Does this matter at all?)



What do you think of Beloit College's mindset list? Do you hate it as much as Alexandra Petri?

I do, but not for the same reasons. (Here's Alexandra's column) Alex hates it because it makes her feel old. I hate it because it treats young people like they're a different species from older people, and seems to imply that we need to sit down with translation dictionaries in order to talk with each other. Its existence is based entirely on the notion that older professors should treat students like delicate flowers and, if they want to make sure they don't embarrass themselves, refrain from making any out-of-date references.


This is patently ridiculous. 

I'm late to the Phoenix Lisztomania Brat Pack mashup and subsequent Brooklyn, San Francisco and other cities mashing their own versions. How did I miss it? Have I been under a rock? Is it so over? 

Obviously, anything to do with the Breakfast Club will never be over. Dance on, Molly Ringwald lookalikes.

My lunch date cancelled (naturally), so I decided I can do this all on my own. So I went to this new restaurant I want to try, alone. When I got there, I discovered it burned down last night. So, how is your day going?

Awesome! I went to a boxing class last night and can barely move my arms, so I'm trying to type using mind control. What restaurant burned down?

Cupcake, I need your help please! I've tried and tried and tried to love Twitter, but I hate it! What am I doing wrong? I'm a 33 year old female and follow some close friends, celebrities I love (semi-stalk) and a few pet causes. But, I get OVERWHELMED. I was following NPR for awhile, but their Tweeters posted a new Tweet about every 10 seconds. Then, there are the links and retweets from those I do follow. I feel like half of my day is spent refreshing Tweets and trying to keep up! If I save it to check at the end of the day, it can take an hour or so to sort through. I've made "lists," which are somewhat helpful, but sometimes a girl just wants to look through her entire feed without feeling like she's slogging through. Any advice? Any apps to manage this? I've cut my following list down to bare bones. GSTQ!

My only advice is to not try. Right now, you're thinking of Twitter like it's a television show, and if you miss a single episode, you'll be confused and unable to catch up. Try instead to think of Twitter like a party. When you go to a party, you have good conversations with some people, you try some of the food, you witness some of the anecdotes. It's impossible for you to partake in all of everyone's conversations -- at some point, you're going to be in the wrong room and miss the hostess doing the N Sync dance routine -- but you don't expect to. You can't be in all of the rooms all of the time. Think of Twitter that way. Don't try to be in all of the rooms. Come in when you have the time and stay for a little while. If the thing is good enough, people will repost it and talk about it again later on when you're around.


Does this though experiment help at all?

....I lose all faith in this chat. It inspired my very first visit to ever!

Your first ever!

I have to say, I met Prince Harry last spring. I really thought that he had all of these hijinks out of his system. I really did.


Meanwhile, he appears to have very nice legs -- so difficult for a man to pull off.

Wait, Kurt Cobain has always been dead? When did this happen?

It's true. He was never, ever born.

Who does Prince Harry think he is, a member of Congress.

Then again, it's not like he was Tweeting out his nudity to his followers. Obviously, he still has a lot to learn.

Maybe we can band together and email P.H. to remind him to not let people keep their phones with them when he's drinking (in a private hotel suite)?

In all seriousness, this must be one of the crappiest things about being famous. Wondering whether you need to ask your party guests to check their cell phones at the door would go a long way to nurturing paranoia and diminishing possible relationships.


Then again, he was dancing naked with strangers.

I wrote to you a few weeks back about a new guy at work who had an FB admirer that was causing some behind the back tittering by always writing on everything he posted. I took him aside and talked to him. He kind of realized how ridiculous she looked but was surprised that anybody lumped him into the jokes. I told him I was surprised, too, but there it was. He said he was going to limit her access, and he appreciated the heads up even though he was disappointed in his coworkers. Haven't seen anymore cougar prowling. It worked out okay, I guess. Thought I'd let you know.

Thanks for the update. If I'm remembering correctly, I, along with most of the chatters, thought that most of the coworkers needed to butt out, and not penalize this guy for what a woman was posting on his wall. I'm glad that the conversation turned out as well as it did. I'm also glad that he had the sense to be disappointed in his coworkers, because really, people, grow up. 

1. I've never thought about playing strip billiards before, so thanks for the idea! Also, clearly need to get back to Vegas soon. 2. I'm of two minds here - first, I hate them because Prince Harry clearly just wanted to hook up and he should be able to do that in Vegas without having to have an awkward conversation with his grandmother. But also, now I've seen Prince Harry naked and I'm okay with that. 3. Definitely perked up my Wednesday morning, that's for sure! But really, is anything on TMZ important? I think not.

Can you imagine having this conversation with Queen Elizabeth? (Actually, I can. I totally can. Especially after her James Bond appearance. I think she secretly has a wicked sense of humor).

Just like I'm not offended with older coworkers and friends get a little extra 'splainy about bands of whose existence I am aware. There *is* a difference between growing up with cultural references and having them be passed on years after the fact. XKCD did a column about when the majority of the population won't remember things, and I think that's a fair and sobering look at the prospect that things we just *know* by cultural osmosis now will have to be learned in the future.

Thanks for the link -- can't wait to look at it.

I am from out of state: The restaurant was called Sinbad, which is ironic. Maybe they sinned badly which caused the fire. It was supposed to be a Pakistani-Indian restaurant, which one should have guessed would be trouble right there.

Well, this explains everything.

When will Web InSites be returning to the Sunday Post?

Thanks for missing it! (Or maybe you don't miss it. Maybe this was your way of saying, "Please don't ever come back again.") 


I'm on a book leave until December 1. I haven't decided whether or not I'll return intermittantly in September or not. (August was out of the question, as I was neck deep in revision Hades.)

I just received an anonymous email from someone who is clearly a friend of mine, saying some very hurtful things. Essentially, that I'm entitled and clueless, and completely unsuited to my chosen profession, which is in a caretaking field. I feel totally blindsided and want to know who sent this -- it was obviously more than a passing acquaintance; they knew a lot of personal information. Is it worth asking around to find out who sent it?

First, I'm so sorry. I'll only quibble with your first sentence. It's not "clearly a friend," since a friend clearly wouldn't take the anonymity route with something like this. It is, as you later say, just clearly someone who knows you well.


Let's think through this. What would be the benefit to knowing who sent you the anonymous email? Is it because you want to make sure you cut this person entirely out of your life? Is it because you don't know who you can trust right now? Both are understandable impulses -- but I'm not sure that either will help you figure out who sent it, since someone who hides behind an anonymous email is likely to just deny it when confronted.


If at all possible -- and I realize this is difficult -- I might try to think of how you would proceed if you knew who sent you the email. Would you think, "This is one person's ridiculous opinion, and I'm not going to let it get to me." Or would you think, "This person is confirming all of my fears about myself."


What I'm getting at is there are two issues here. Is it the anonymity that bothers you? Or is it the content of the message? You might not be able to do anything about the first, but the second issue, you do have some control over. Sit down with a trusted friend -- as much as you can trust anyone right now -- and ask if s/he'll have an honest discussion with you about some of the accusations brought up in the email. The way that conversation goes can help you decide how much thought, if any, you want to continue to give to the message.


Chatters, what do you think?

If naked young things serve up nudie pix, go ahead! Congressmen must be held to a higher aesthetic standard.

Paul Ryan does a lot of P90X. Are you saying his nudie pics would be acceptable?

Same old same old. Back in the day, Harry's grandpa Prince Philip was rumoured (ahem!) to have partied nekkid with the Profumo crowd.

And uncle Andrew (it's Andrew, right?) was a total scalawag. 


Totally the Spare Heir syndrome. If he doesn't have to wear a crown later, he doesn't have to behave.

a) I'm totally fine with this. To steal Manny Ramirez's line, it's just Harry being Harry. We have too many "celebrities" pretending to be something they aren't, so I'm on board with him acting a little foolish. But, b) man, get some better friends. Or be more discriminating about the ladies you pick up at Vegas pool parties. In today's world, you need to at least make an effort to insulate yourself.

Random question. I see a lot of chatters assuming it was a lady who sent in the pic. Does TMZ specifically say they received these pictures from a female? If not, why are we assuming it was? Wasn't he with friends, which presumably also included some menfolk? Or do we think it was just Harry and a bunch of lasses?

Thanks, Cupcake! I will try out your idea- I think in part, my panic comes from living in this 24-hour plugged in world/not wanting to miss anything. Your analogy totally appeals to me. I'll check back and let you know how it goes. I'm also reassured by the fact that if something is TRULY important (like Prince Harry's Crown Jewels), the world will make sure that I don't miss out!

It's really hard, isn't it? I totally understand your feelings of panic and how they relate to the modern world. But I'm not altogether convinced that we were less well-informed when the news only came on at 6 and 10.

I know only one boxing story. There is a scene in "Rocky" where Sylvester Stallone is running through the Italian Market and he grabs an apple from one of the vendors, takes a bite out of the apple, and then tosses the apple back. Now, you have to keep in mind that when "Rocky" was filmed, no one in South Philadelphia had yet heard of Rocky or Sylvester Stallone. What you don't see in the film is that after Stallone tossed the apple. the vendor threw it back at him.

Good for the vendor. I mean, really. Pay for your apple.

Used to be that folks had to check their guns at the door.

How long before we invent a cell phone that has a gun app and shoots real bullets?

That he did this: not really surprising, right? The person that sold to TMZ: I have mixed feelings as definately the person shouldn't have done it, not nice at all, but if they hadn't I wouldn't have been able to see them and that would have been a tragedy. Important: Probably not, but GREAT entertainment/eye/brain candy today. That is all.

In other words, they did the wrong thing, but it was for the betterment of society, so it was kind of okay.

Reminds me of the Michael Phelps bong photos. Phelps said those photos helped him realize who his true friends were. But I don't suppose those girls were friends of Harry's.

You gotta love that. Not, "These photos helped me realize I shouldn't be smoking illegal substances," but "These photos made me realize I shouldn't do it in front of untrustworthy people with camera phones."

One good reason for find out who sent it is in order to exonerate the rest of the possible suspects.

I get that. I'm just not sure it's worth the interrogations. It's an important question for the chatter to ask him/herself, though -- will she be able to move on and trust her friends again if she never learns who sent the email?

Someone mentioned the Vegas antics at an office gathering this morning, but accidently said "Prince Charles". Of course we were all shocked and disgusted. But when someone corrected her, we all said, "Oh yeah, Harry does that sort of thing" and went onto the next topic.


I have two home blogs that I've been reading religiously for a couple of years (YHL and Bower Power). The two author couples became real life friends after interacting through their blogs. I talk about them with my real life friends as if I know them (as pointed out by my brother). Is that weird? It's more of like a "Oh, John and Sherry did this project so I'm going to try it" as opposed to a creepy stalker thing.

Verdict, chatter?

I don't think it's weird. I think these couples would be delighted to know that you feel a non-creepy kinship with them, since that is, after all, one of the main goals and points of a blog.

Does that mean that Harry's great-grandfather, the future George VI, partied hearty before his older brother, Edward VIII, abdicated?

I like to think so.

If someone is questioning one's professionalism, it may be useful to ask co-workers if they have any advice as to what one could or should be doing that might improve their work. That may be all that is needed. That way one may gather legitimate feedback, even if one does not find the person who sent the anonymous email. Or perhaps one will, which might lead to an open and honest discussion.

I didn't get the sense that this email was coming from a colleague, but rather from a friend who believed that the OP's personality characteristics were not well-suited for a particular job. But I could be wrong. Just about any job could benefit from a yearly or bi-annual evaluation, though, so I'm posting this just in case.

I'm headed to Vegas tomorrow and am REALLY REALLY REALLY MAD that he got this out of his system before my arrival.

Please return next week with a photo of at lease one other naked celebrity.

Maybe Prince Harry has fallen in love with one of the Vegas women, and he will give up his crown to marry her.

I don't even think he needs to give up his crown, as he's not going to be king. And even a king could probably marry an American -- Edward's problem is that the American he wanted to marry was twice-divorced, and still married to her second husband when their fling began.

I've seen this idea for weddings on Pinterest--the whole idea that people getting married want folks to experience the event for real, not via their phones. And also there's the people who post pics of the ceremony, etc., while it's taking place, leaving people no way to police or control what pictures get out and when. Not equating a bride with royalty, but I think there's some of the same thoughts there. (on a related note, I activated the thing on FB where you can approve tags of yourself before others can see them. awesome. why yes, I am a little overly protective of my online image, why do you ask?)

This is interesting, because it seems to be as much for the guests' benefits as for the bride and grooms. I went to a wedding not long ago where the bride's father spent the whole ceremony with a camcorder glued to his eyeball (Yes, there was also a professional videographer). Felt a little bad for him, to be only seeing this event through a lens.

Do we think there's anything to the fact that he was in Vegas (other than the party atmosphere, etc.)? I mean naked billiards could happen anywhere there's a billiard table. Maybe this is his sport? Maybe his British friends are a bit more discreet and this happens all the time! This is of course assuming the pics weren't sent by them.

It's true. Naked billiards need not be Vegas specific. Additionally, in Great Britain the game of snooker (similar to billiards) is quite popular. I think we can all agree that naked snooker sounds like it goes together like peanut butter and jelly.

I too LOVE those two blogs, and get a kick out of the fact that they're friends (became after blogging). For me, part of it is that the YHL fam (the one I read first) is in Richmond, and John has NoVa they seem like they could be my neighbors.

Validation, original poster.

I expect such a lad to cut loose and party hearty in Vegas. But when he's wearing clothes, can someone please get him to stand up straight? I don't know whether he has a short neck or what, but at his brother's wedding he looked so hunched up, like a kid who didn't really want to be there. Don't they make you stand up straight in the army any more?

The times I have seen him in person, he had excellent posture. I do think his neck might be a tad short, which could add to the hunched-over-ness you seem to be seeing.

The standards for total scalawagginess were so much lower then. All Andy did was date a porn star. Harry leaves him in the dust.

No. Porn star still wins.

I read YHL and Bower Power, too, and last night Sherry showed up in my dream doing construction on the ceiling during the middle of a party. All this to say -- you're not alone.


But if you became friends with them why is it weird? It's only weird if you don't actually know them. You do know them in real life?

No, no -- the poster does not know them in real life. The two bloggers know each other in real life. And yet we have decided its still not weird.

Did you ever get your British DVDs, or a way to play the Region 2 ones?

I've set aside this particular dream for now -- it's going to be my reward when I turn my book revisions in at the end of the month.

I have only watched two of them, yet please tell you father he seems to have made a good choice in selecting the "honest" movie promos. They are funny.

Father Cupcake has a reliably good sense of humor. He is wise.

You make a great Hax.

There can be only one Hax.

(And for those writing in and asking whether I'm in the advice column biz now -- eh, not really. But if your quandary has to do with something on a screen, as this did, relating to an email, then I'll take a stab at it).

This was happening to someone else in the Food chat earlier. Your chat has gone all wonky and reverted to showing html code. I'm using Firefox and the other person was using Safari, so it is not our browsers. Please alert your tech geeks!

Is this happening for everyone? I'm on Firefox and the chat's still working fine for me.

Creepy. They do not know you exist. They are not your friends. You are someone that is just spying on their life (albeit at their invitation bc they run a blog). Get IRL friends.

An alternative perspective. FWIW, I totally hope you all refer to me as a friend, because sometimes I'll start to quote a "friend," and then realize I'm just remembering something that happened in the chat.

So excited that there are other YHL & BP fan here! It's a unique kind of nerdy, and I like it

Apparently, this chat has a very large overlap in the Venn Diagram sense with YHL and BP fans.

Okay, it's not weird. I don't want to go against the collective decision of "we." Carry on.

Did I mean "we," the chatters, or "we," the royal we? Who knows. We -are- talking about royalty today.

I was watching the Today Show last week (it was the only thing on at the gym, I swear) and someone - Carrie Underwood, I think? - was singing in front of a large crowd of very enthusiastic young ladies and men standing completely still and following her every move with their cell phones. Even jostling each other to get a better video when she moved. It made me sad; whatever happened to flailing your arms about and singing along and enjoying the moment? Signed, a 32-year-old curmudgeon

Or even just enjoying the moment, then trying to find someone else's recording later on YouTube. 

(Guys. The concert was -on the Today Show.- It was already being recorded. You did not need to have it on your personal phones).

No, it's weird. Talking about anyone that doesn't know that you exist as if you are friends is weird. Do you think it's not weird if someone was referring to an actor as a friend is weird? How is it different if the 'fame' is pseudo-niche internet fame rather than on a larger venue? Weird.

I would think it was weird if someone said, "I had Robert Pattinson over for dinner" if they had not, because that would be a weird and strange lie. I would not think it was weird if someone said, "Poor Robert Pattinson, all alone after Kristen Stewart broke his heart." I wouldn't even think it was weird if someone said, "These are Robert Pattinson's favorite cookies -- I got them from his blog."

As I was reading the question, what the OP was doing was more along the second and third examples, not the first.

You are our friend. This is different from the blogger/friend thing because you interact with us, while the blogger just blogs and the readers just read.

To the original poster -- I completely believe that your screen has gone wonky, but everyone else's seems to be fine. I'm afraid it might just be a fluke for you and your friend.

Can't watch at work. Is this anything like Literal Video Versons of songs?

Not quite. But still funny. Check it out at home.

This is all facebook's fault. The concept of friendship has become totally corrupted. A friend is someone who is there for you, and vice versa (which can totally happen even if you've never met in person). Not a rando you had a chat with on the internet once, or who you follow along with many others. Even a really corrupted notion of 'friend' to being something more like an acquaintance doesn't pass the 'I follow their blog' test: If you died, would they ever notice? If the answer is no, they are not a friend.

I see what you're saying, and also think you're reading the question literally.  Of course we can think of people we've never met as friends. I thought Madeleine L'Engle was a tremendous writer. Her books spoke directly to me; reading them felt like talking with an old friend. That doesn't mean that I would have sent her an invitation to my birthday party, or suggested we get together for drinks -- and I don't think that's what the OP was suggesting, either. (But maybe I should let the OP ring in for him/herself instead of me continuting to explain what I thought was meant).

I'm not on Facebook, and don't want to be. But how can I find out if anyone is bad-mouthing me on Facebook, so I could report it? If I ask someone I trust who IS on Facebook if s/he could search on my name, would that be ethical?

You can't. I'm sorry. Facebook doesn't work that way -- there's not a search bar like Google. You can search for someone's account if they're already on Facebook, but you cannot find errant mentions of someone on another person's account. And even if you couldn't, it would have to be pretty malicious libel in order to be considered reportable. Simple, "I really don't like that guy" won't cut it.

I'd like to think of you as a friend, except I can't think of a non-creepy way to invite you to hang out with me.

One day we'll all finally have that potluck.

No way. Now if Andy had dated a porn star while wearing a Nazi uniform and then taking it off to play naked billiards with hookers, maybe.

That sounds like the plot of a porn right there.

Harry can marry whomever he pleases BUT, if he marries a Catholic, he loses his right to be in the line of succession to the Throne.

Porn actresses, fine, Catholics, no. Got it.

What is Harry anyway, the Prince of Wales? What does the even mean? Does he consult on Welsh foreign policy matters? I could be wrong, but it does not strike me as that hard a job.

The Wikipedia entry explaining the whole "Of Wales" thing.

Fine- I give up. The internet wins. You all are right & I am wrong- I'm clearly in the massive minority and I can't fight the hivemind. It's not weird. It's totally normal and not creepy. I maintain the right to be sad about the fact that it's not weird or creepy.

It's rough. I know.

Makes me want to go back to a simpler time, before I had the Internet, and wonder if Ross and Rachel will end up together.

Not joking. Three different chatters in a row just wrote in to make references to Ross from friends. THAT is the hivemind.

Seriously, which one is more offensive? I have to go with the latter.

It's not even a contest.

I think it's sad that some people think considering people you've never met as a "friend" is weird. Life would be much better if we considered each other friends.

What's that quote? Something about strangers being friends you haven't met yet? I like that.

Unfortunately, that's all we have time for today. See you next week, same time and place.

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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