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

Aug 29, 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. One of the questions already in the queue has the potential to start some interesting discussions, I think, so I'm going to cut and paste it below to give time for everyone to store up some thoughts until we begin at 2. Here 'tis:


"My daughter is elated that she's old enough to have a Facebook account, which will coincide with her starting a new school and meeting lots of new people (We recently moved -- at her school in our old town, we knew all of her friends well, and most of their families). What advice should we give her about online behavior -- and how should we protect her online?"


What say you, chatters? If you're a parent, what rules are in place at your house? If you're not -- what lessons do you wish had been imparted on you before you had a social media presence?

Additionally, MTV is adding a new category to their music awards, namely, "Most Share-Worthy Video." Here are the nominations.


I don't see any world in which "Call Me Maybe" is not the winner. Discuss.

You knew there would be at least one comment on this...a video that now stands at north of 71 MILLION views (the duet version with Hyuna Kim adds another 20 million!). Besides the fact that the song is 1) a lot of fun; 2) extremely catchy, even if the hook is in Korean; and 3) features an awesome dance, I think it also goes a long way to show the true power of the Internet in the explosive globalization of music, from K-pop to Eurovision to Latin artists, all coning together in one big dance party.

Yeah, anyone who has not seen this video needs to stop anything you're doing and watch it now, immediately. It's very Party Rock, but somehow all the better since it's in Korean. And that kid in the beginning -- he needs to be found and celebrified immediately. 

I did a training with some teenage girls about how to properly use Facebook. When I started, I asked the girls what type of things you shouldn't put on FB. One girl raised her hand and responded "pictures of you in your BRA." So, yes, don't put pictures of yourself in your bra. I tried to impress upon the girls that regardless of privacy settings this is public information and you should act as if your favorite teacher is reading. You can be funny and silly, but don't be mean, don't publicize bad behavior, and don't share every thought you have every second that you're having it.

Were you able to ascertain that "No pictures of you in your bra" also included "No pictures of you in your undies, topless without your bra, in the nude, etc?" I just want to make sure she was able to extrapolate.

The greatest meme ever, or THE GREATEST MEME EVER?

I think it probably has a short shelf life, but in the meantime. Yeah, I've lost at least an hour to this site.  And my friends who are complaining that these dogs are poorly trained, and need to be paid more attention rather than "shamed," well, they are completely missing the point.

I assume you've seen the stories on this. How stupid is the BIC pen company for this idiotic marketing approach? Or, maybe they're crazy like a fox, because it certainly has people talking. They even discussed it on NPR this morning. The "reviews" on Amazon are truly hilarious, though.

My colleague Maura Judkis did a post on this earlier. And (sorry, previous poster) but in a meme-off, I think that Bic for her would EVEN BEAT DOGSHAMING. It's that good.


What do -you- all think Bic was thinking? Not to defend sexist idiocy, but here I shall. I have tiny, tiny hands. My ring size is 3.25. I've often wished for things to be made for wee-handed people. Is this where Bic was going with this? Women have smaller hands then men and need more slender writing utensils? (I will note, however, that I have never thought, "This pen is too unwieldy. I can't manage it.")

YOU keep the password. If she changes it, she loses it. YOU login perodically and check things out. YOU review who she is friends with and read other pages now and then. Overbearing? No. Also educating her that once online - almost forever online. That goes for pics (people can save-what do they do with them?), posts, game playing, etc. Also locking down the account to friends-only. No - friends of friends. Good luck! This is what I do with my daughter and she understands.

I'm glad your daughter understands. Just out of curiosity, when are you planning on loosening those rules? They might make sense for a 14-year-old, but it seems that there comes a point at which teenagers have to learn the art of discretion and judgment for themselves. Otherwise, they'll get to college and be loosed into the wild with no preparation.

I love that Korean video! And, while we are dance-partying around the world, I recommend the Swedish "Dansa Pausa" -- just as catchy, with an amusing video (though nothing can compete with Psy, admittedly).

It this it? 

I'm not a parent, but it may help to have her look at mom or dad's pages and discuss why certain things are or are not okay. Too many adults are modelling bad behavior, especially when it comes to political discussions. Not that a 13 year cares much about politics, but the basics how to treat others well can be translated directly into topics she does care about. (And heck, you can get a little bit of a civics lesson there at the same time.)

I love, love this idea. Everyone has a few embarrasing friends -- of all ages -- who obviously don't understand how they're coming across online. It seems like a great -- wait for it, I'm going to use a pop-psychology term -- "teachable moment," to look through pages with kids, with a guided set of questions: "Do you think it  was good that Aunt Marie shared the intimate details of her divorce from Uncle Murray in a status update? Why or why not?"

No naked photos of Royals.

It's so true.

I've noticed over the last year or so that most search engines no longer search for the exact terms you type in. They search for words that are spelled nearly the same, or if they think you spelled something wrong they search under the right spelling. But over and over and over again, I've tried to search for valid things and found it maddeningly hard to find them because search engines think I'm spelling something else incorrectly! They will also display sites with different variations of the word (like "cheese" instead of "cheesalicious") even though I'm looking for ONE specific variation. Just to make it more frustrating, they also don't display websites that contain ALL the words I'm looking for. So I waste tons of time digging through pages that are irrelevant because they contain bread, mayo, and bacon, but not cheesalicious like I wanted. Now I know Google has a search tool called "verbatim" but why am I forced to search, see bad results, then have to go click two more times just to see "verbatim"? Is there some special setting I'm missing? How would I tell it to display ONLY pages that contain ALL the words I entered? What's a good search engine I can use that doesn't think I'm stupid because I'm searching for apparently unpopular or unusual things?

Feel better? If it helps, I've noticed this too, and find it similarly frustrating. I don't have an answer or explanation for you, but I sense you mostly just wanted to vent, anyway. Sometimes we all need to do that?

Anyone else have something they'd like to get off their chests?

Obviously the MTV nominations were set before Psy exploded on the scene with the biggest South Korean export since, well, Hyundai.

And if Hyundai hasn't already contacted him to star in their new commercials, that's nothing but a missed opportunity.

Following up on the "pictures of you in your BRA" discussion, the next time there's one of those teenage nude photo-sharing scandals, you'll want to sit your daughter down and talk about the importance of never sending those kinds of images to someone, even if it's a close friend or beloved boyfriend, because a.) Even people you love can do stupid things in a moment of anger, and b.) Phones can be stolen. All of these kids hear the stories but just think, "Well, I TRUST my boyfriend." Trust has nothing to do with it. It's a question of "Would I mind if everyone in the world saw me naked?"

That's true -- the question of posting thost pictures online needs to extend to texting those pictures in private. And if the daughter/son gets defensive in the "Jamie would never do that to me" kind of way, it's worth pointing out that all it takes is for a cell phone to be accidentally left on a bus before the pictures are everywhere, and completely irretrievable.

Reminds me of the longer, thinner cigarettes exploitatively marketed to women back in the '70s as though they were some chic fashion item. And not in a good way, either.

Is that where Virginia Slims came from?

I'll loosen the rules when she's 30. Kidding!!! I'd imagine around 17 ish. Or... she gets to keep her password but she has to stay friends with me. She's on Instagram and privated her account on her own when she started to get more than 20 followers. She's pretty responsible.

Thanks for writing back. Yes, it seems like you'd want her to have at least a year of Facebook without the training wheels before she headed off to college. That way she can pedal up and down the block, but you're still close by in case she falls.

Case in point, my wife decided to Google stalk me today while bored at work and came across an Amazon review from 2006 that I wrote. She told me I was cute. Let's just hope she doesn't find that other stuff....Just kidding, honey, nothing to see here.

Was it for a BIC pen? (And you had your real name on Amazon?!)

what's this about naked photos of Royals? I know they let reporters into the locker room, but I think it is wrong to be taking photographs of Kansas City Royals.

I don't really want to see naked baseball (football? Hockey? I'm just guessing here) players, anyway.

Try putting the word or phrase that you seek inside quote marks. This often works for me.

Yeah, it doesn't always work. Been there, been frustrated by that.

Like with anything else, a parent does this gradually as seems appropriate to the offspring's demonstrated maturity. If the child proves untrustworthy, retighten the reins a bit for a while. Otherwise, keep loosening them step by step.

Addendum: A parent is supposed to do this gradually. I've seen lots of parents have problems with this, and I've seen their kids go bat-crazy as soon as they leave the house for the first time, drunk (sometimes literally) with the unfamiliar taste of freedom.

Have you had any experience with the new-ish free online college classes? (I'm doing mine through Coursera, but I think there are other sites.) For the one I'm doing, the lectures and course materials are fantastic, but I'm not sure how useful the discussions are. (Too many participants, too unfocused, lots of folks with limited English.) Obviously, I'm not going to look a gift course in the mouth (ha), but wonder if there are ways that can be improved over time.

I haven't had any experience, no. Anyone else?

1.) Be prepared for people behaving badly. You WILL be a victim of it at some point; be prepared to handle it without resorting in kind. 2.) Everything you do is recorded somewhere. Imagine that the world's worst tattle-tale little brother/sister is always checking your page, and behave accordingly. 3.) Learn proper password safety. Do not use "password" or any variation thereof. Do not link your FB with your iTunes account or other accounts. Do not share your password with friends. 4.) If you wouldn't cheerfully hand your grandmother a print-out of a picture, don't post it. No undergarments, no illegal behavior, nothing. Imagine the school's gossip is perpetually looking for something to spread around. 5.) Have fun. Don't expect too much from it, don't center your life around it, and rest assured there will always be something bigger and better later on.

All of this is great. Thanks.

Have you considered (or done) a column on what online dating is like for men and for women? I am back into the world of it on two sites and am rather curious how experiences and expectations differ. I am sure everyone gets plenty of "what the.." reactions to some people reaching out to them but how do people handle "normal" winks/nudges/smiles/questions? (Normal being usage of grammar and punctuation, no "let's get married right now!", "ur hawt", etc.) What keeps them from responding to someone? What sparks their interest? Etc and so on...

My colleague Ellen McCarthy, who writes about dating/love/marriage has looked into online dating quite a bit in the past. I don't have any articles at my fingertips -- but if there was enough interest, I'd be happy to bring her on to co-host a chat one Wednesday. She knows all.

People aren't stupid. If you make passive-aggressive comments, everyone will know to whom you're referring. They will find you annoying and passive-aggressive. These are not good qualities, and will cost you good friends eventually. Don't put anything on Facebook that you wouldn't want all your friends - and relatives, and teachers - to know the next day. Possibly sooner. If you're not sure if you should post it, wait a day - no loss to anyone. If you post lots of photos emphasizing your cleavage or trying to be sexy, you'll attract lots of people who want to see your cleavage or you being sexy. All attention is not equal. Attention and "likes" aren't the same as actually being liked.

Your first point, especially. It pertains not only to teens but to everyone online. Although, isn't that the point for many of these people? They WANT everyone to know who they're talking about. They just want the guise of plausible deniability for later. ("No, it totally wasn't about you. It was about this...other person.")

Lies. * Dirty lies.

If naked KC Royals float your boat, I shall not judge. Much.

Google is starting to creep me out. I search for photos of my favorite band a lot (I, uh, have kind of a thing for the lead singer), but recently, I was looking for design ideas for my apartment, and so I typed in "over sofa artwork" into Google Images, and after about ten pages of horizontal paintings and metal wall hangings, I got a picture of my favorite band sitting on a sofa. NO, GOOGLE, STOP. CREEPY.

You must immediately blow up the picture of the band sitting on the sofa and immediately hang it over your sofa. Am I the only person who thinks the solution is clear?

Don't most search engines have a way to search for the exact phrase you want only, like by putting it in quotation marks?

The quotations marks don't always work. Sometimes Google still thinks you're confuzzled, and must have wanted something else. Like, perhaps, a BIC pen for women.

I can see it now: Psy standing in front of/beside/behind (multiple angles) a hot Hyundai Tiburon, doing his invisible horse dance, singing "Oppan Hyundai Style" while Hyuna, the light-haired subway girl, walks by each time. Closing shot is of little dancing kid doing his moves before climbing in passenger seat. Result: Sales of cars leap by 50%.

Well, I would definitely buy one.

This is barely related to the internet but I could use some help. A colleague of mine has fallen for a guy online and it's raising red flags for everyone in the office but her (as someone said, there aren't any green flags). His name doesn't show up on google searches, he's a freelance engineer working in Indonesia but calls and texts constantly during the day here, etc. Things have escalated to the point that he and his adult son are coming to stay at her house at the end of September. This colleague is 62 years old and has a history of unsuccessful relationships, and I'm afraid that everyone telling her this is a bad idea has made her secretive and so now we don't even know what's going on. We're worried she's getting scammed financially but I've become more concerned for her personal safety in September. Is this a losing battle or are there resources that I'm overlooking?

Have they ever met in person?

I wonder if the way to frame it is not to point out how utterly creepy this guy seems, and rather to say that you would be just as concerned even if he were a Google-able freelance engineer working in Indianapolis. Because obviously, the biggest and most skilled creeps are the ones who don't raise any red flags at all.


No matter who you're corresponding with, or how safe they seem, anyone planning on meeting someone from the Internet should employ basic safety checks. For example, meeting in a public place first. Perhaps arranging a hotel for the first several nights of the visit. And some of this guy's creepiness should be easy enough to verify, yes? It sounds like you don't believe he's actually living in Indonesia. Surely she could -- and it would be surprising if she hadn't -- asked him to email some photos of himself at his home or work?

The Kansasy City Royals are a baseball team. Now, are you able to guess which sport the WIlliamsport Crosscutters are?

Ummm...lacrosse? Sailing? Scrapbooking?

It is not just you. This frustrates me to no end. It used to be Google would search only on the exact worlds you typed in. You had to do some advanced searching to get truncations and such. Now it comes back with so much crap it's useless for a lot of searches. I don't want a million not on point hits that have only some of my search terms and multiple spellings and iterations of other words. I want the words I typed in, and the 10 relevant hits that go with them.

In that respect, Google is still 50 times better than Bing, or any other search engine. One of the things that ruined Breaking Dawn (ONE of the things? No, but this really pushed it over the edge) was when Edward Cullen was busy searching around for half-vampire babies on Yahoo! search. On Yahoo! search, Edward? That pushes my boundaries of disbelief just too far.

Can I show it to my my mom? Yes -> Post. No -> Do not Post.

Easy, breezy, beautiful.

You must be using Google for Her. It assumes you don't really know what you want.

That explains why all of my searches spit back sites labeled "Smelling salts, hand cream, and how to get that man to propose."

Pictures of yourself in a bra = no, pictures of your cat in a bra = YES

I'm sure there could probably be some sort of general rule we could extrapolate from that: If it would be bad for you to post you doing it, it would be genius for you to post your cat doing it.

Hey, give the guy a break, he's like 100 years old, right? My parents still have AOL e-mail addresses. Same thing.

Next think you know, Edward's poring over the print version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Hockey players are hot and in shape. The same can't be said for all baseball or football players. That is all.


"OMG, honey, what's wrong?" "I don't wanna talk about it." THEN STOP POSTING VAGUE REFERENCES TO IT ON THE INTERNET! I once decided to post "Passive-aggressive comment!" as the entirety of my Facebook status, and was rewarded with a slew of friends who responded with variations of "Concerned message offering meaningless support!"

Oh, but that's not passive aggression. That's Fishing For Sympathy and/or Attention W----ing. We must be precise when we discuss the lame ways people can behave online.

with kids getting their own FB pages? Does this come before or after "My First Smartphone"?

I think before My First Smartphone, but after My First Cell Phone (To be used only in emergencies; we don't want to see you running up your text messages, young lady).

I've heard this called "Vaguebooking."

Thank you.

Soccer too.

Lonnae O'Neal Parker and I once wrote a whole article on this. Why Soccer Players Are Empirically The Most Attractive Athletes. It was hard. We had to do so much research.

I've heard this called "Vaguebooking."

Hmm. I like it, but feel it could be improved on.

She has not met the boyfriend in person. Nor his adult son who for some reason will accompany his father to flyover territory to witness the first meeting. THANK YOU for the photo on the beach (or at least the worksite) idea, any other ideas like that are welcome!

For all we know, the adult son is coming because he was like, "Dad, you're going to fly halfway around the world to meet someone you've never met, who could be a complete psycho? I don't think so. I'm coming with you."


Chatters, other suggestions for this particular circumstance?

This reminds me of one of my great Google pet peeves... when I search for something that returns no results (such as a proper name in quotes), Google will often ask me if I mean [alternate spelling of name in quotes]. I think "well sure, that might be right" and click the new link... which returns no results. Why or why would you suggest something that doesn't exist, Google?!

Eh, that's just Google messing with you.

so I bought some Nutella for a recipe, but I haven't made the cookies yet, and I keep eating spoonfuls of it. I don't know what this has to do with the web, but I felt like I needed to confess. The recipe was on a blog, so I guess I do blame the Internets.

You absolutely did the right thing in confessing this here. I don't even trust a Nutella-based recipe. Seems all kind of wrong to me. Everyone knows Nutella is meant to be eaten straight from the jar. 

If one makes a friend online from a distant location and they have never met, that is fine. Yet if the person wishes to travel and meet, do not pay for the visit. This is a common scam. It could be real, but it very possibly could be a scam. I even know of an old high school friend who befrieded people who got them to send her money to come back and visit. It tures out she was a drug addict and the money went to drugs and not towards the visit.

Oh, Man. Yes, if he was asking her to pay for the visit, that would be a huge red flag. I could see them choosing to split the cost, as a ticket from Indonesia might be prohibitively expensive, but if he's otherwise asked for money, the red flags are flying.

Full details on being able to "Shut that whole thing down."


Can I read your hot soccer player article?

For the World Cup, natch.

But I prefer Femident toothpaste.

You're all on a roll today. Must be the happy energy Psy has bestowed upon the chat.

I do this is Whole Foods brand hot fudge sauce. It's so good right out the jar cold.

On that note. I think I have some Trader Joe's almond chocolate butter in my cupboard that I should probably go...attend to.

That's all for today. See you next week!

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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