Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web

Sep 12, 2013

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. We'll get started at 2.

First up, that epic "Twerking Fail" video that everyone shared everywhere last week? Was a hoax, created by Jimmy Kimmel. Alas.



A friend and I both enjoy your chats, and have agreed to go with whatever Monica would do. I de-friended a mutual acquaintance on Facebook rather than just "hiding" her as part of a statement that I didn't agree with her totally wack-a-doo, 50 Shades of Cray political views and frequent postings about varied conspiracy theories. In the past I would respond with links to Snopes.com and other de-bunking websites and reason, but to no avail. My friend just has wack-a-doo hidden, but wack-a-doo still frequently comments on friend's stuff with crazy thoughts that I'd rather avoid. She has a joint account with her husband, as they don't appear to trust each other, and I'm never sure which one I was 'talking' to. So I left that job, and thought it would be safe to de-friend the acquaintance. Unfortunately, she noticed. She called me out at an event at our kids' school, and I was just kinda floored anyone would bring up "Hey, why'd you de-friend me?" that I stammered out something ineloquent about simplifying and pruning a lot of people from my facebook feed. Anyway, she sent me another friend request. I'd like to ignore it, but my *real* friend said I should just accept wack-a-doo's request and just 'hide' her. WWMD?

Oh, just ignore it. If she asks again about the friend request, you can tell her -- honestly, it sounds like -- that you like to keep your Facebook feed purely social, and you noticed that she tends to post a lot of political news. It's nothing personal -- you enjoyed running into her at the kids' school -- but this is general Facebook decision you've made for your own sanity.

In general, I don't think there's any harm in hiding someone. But this seems like too many hoops to jump through just to appease someone you don't have any interest in being friends with.

A revised personal ad, perhaps more suitable per your exacting reader base? Where so you think I should run this? "Financially secure, emotionally stable 50-something empty-nester woman would like to meet intelligent, kind man of integrity and wit, aged 55-63. I am loyal, funny and healthy. Fan of watersports, crabcakes, Motown. Good kisser. No felons, pls."

This is ever so much better than last week's effort. Delightful. And for what it's worth, I really don't think we were being overly exacting. Requesting that a prospective mate be independently wealthy would, I think, put off a large portion of the population.


Also, by "watersports," I don't know if you mean "skiing and sailing" or if you mean...another thing. Because you should be warned that if you mean the former, you should be aware of the fact that, in a personal ad, people might think you're referring to...another thing.

If not arrest? I'm just tired of it.

Oh, we have. I think. It might have one last death gasp in the next few weeks, as someone does it in the deep ocean, or in space, or some industrious soldier develops a big choreographed U.S. Army twerk. But then we're done. I promise.

2:06pm and no posts? You can't have an empty inbox, can you?

Nah, just in a meeting that ran late. I came straight here without even a lunch break. Such is my devotion.

 This my favorite thing today. Best part is the "Candle In The Wind" lyrics in the comments. PS- I've spent way too much time figuring out how to submit this from my phone because I knew this group would appreciate it and I needed to share.

I cannot enjoy this because I am too sad about this frog.

So I watched the Wrecking Ball video. The song is pretty good, but the video is a bit distracting. Any thoughts?

I worry for Miley Cyrus. I didn't with the Twerking. But my concern is growing. I do not want another Amanda Bynes situation.

I won't be available for follow-up on the question I submitted about facebook de-freinding because of mandatory computer training. Boo.

This is tragic. Don't worry, though. We'll all proceed as usual, so you have plenty of responses when you get back. Would anyone else like to ring in on this de-friending question?

I love this open letter to teenage girls about overly sexy facebook pics.

I did see it -- quite a few of my Facebook friends posted it last week. I think it's really interesting how many people viewed this open letter as an instruction manuel for girl empowerment. I found it to be problematic, in that the mother seems to be placing all blame for her sons' lustful thoughts on girls' "provocative" behavior. It read as preachy -- and also doublestandard-y, since when she originally posted the entry, it was accompanies by photos of her sons, shirtless, making muscle-man poses.

How did others read this?

To repurpose Dan Savage, DTMFA. Life's too short to worry about the crazies

An excellent slogan that works for almost every occasion.

I hope you grabbed something you can munch on while you type.


If you post frequently and then defriend somebody, they will notice your posts are not showing up and then they could find out you defriended (unless they have like 10 friends). Defriending is a multi-step process. First, set your default so friends of friends cannot see your posts. Then set your default posts to be everybody BUT the person you are in the process of defriending. Then, spend a month or so posting but every so often, change the settings on a post so this "friend" can see them. This makes it look like you're posting less frequently. Next month, reduce the number of posts this "friend" can see even more. Then, defriend them. Your defriending is less likely to be noticed.

I find this stunning and slightly disturbing.

Also, if the defriended has kids at the same school, using the excuse "keeping FB purely social" won't work as they have a social connection.

Hmmm. I don't follow. If we're friends, and you tell me, "I only like social things on my Facebook wall," and then I proceed to post a bunch of political rants, it doesn't matter that we have a social connection in real life. What matters is that I'm polluting your Facebook wall with the political stuff you have told me you do not want.

My analysis indicates that the Frog is closer to the photographer and not very close to the rocket. Ergo, the Frog is OK.

This is an excellent analysis. I don't know why I didn't get that the first time. I should be sent back to second grade art class for a lesson on perspectives.

I am both stunning and slightly disturbed (but in a good way).

Boy, do you fit right in here.

...what does DTMFA mean?

You'll have to Google it, my pet. It contains words I cannot use here.

Isn't it time to move Holden Caulfield off the Classics shelf? Teen angst and alienation are such a large part of fiction today that it seems to me that if one is going to teach Salinger in high school, one would be better off with his other works.

Intriguing argument. (Excellent story idea -- what are "classics" that should no longer be classics?)

Even better than the Candle in Wind lyrics comment is the Galaxy Quest comment: "By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged!". (a seriously underrated movie. Alan Rickman is fabulous)

I admire your passion, but have to side with the first poster that Candle in the Wind was the superlative comment.

My bad. I too "purely social" as social friends (versus work friends, etc). You meant "purely social" as social posts.


Absolutely awful. Instead of teaching her sons to respect women as people and look beyond what they're wearing, she shames girls and makes them the only ones responsible for what men think/do? Ugh Ugh Ugh. Oh, and she also does a great disservice to males when she writes that once a man thinks of you as a sex object, that's the only way they see you. The half-naked pictures of her sons were only icing on the cake of misogyny and bass-ackwardsness.

A (male) Facebook friend of mine responded thusly: "The only way to have better-behaved teenage boys is to teach teenage boys to behave better."

UGH. Just UGH. So tired of slut shaming and girls being responsible for the actions or behaviors of boys. It is the exact same thing as public school dress codes...making it the responsibility of young women to ensure that boys pay attention in class. On another note, I wouldn't get near one of that woman's boys (I am a single female) with a ten foot pole because of her holier than thou attitude and open sexism. Gotta wonder what her boys are like...

Oh, probably humiliated by their mom, the way all teenage boys are.

Yeah, it seems odd to me that Miley apparentlly thinks she has to turn into Sid Vicious or someone just to cease being Hannah Montana. I mean, do people not understand how much middle ground there is between the two?

Maybe the middle ground is the disappearing ground, though -- the no-mans land where you are un-remembered.

These are some of the books I was required to read in high school that I don't think were worth it: Tess of the Derbervilles (sp?) Ethan Frome


I think Ethan Frome keeps being assigned in part because it's so short -- and thereby easy for a school to give students a taste of Edith Wharton without taking up the whole curriculum.

The Scarlet Pimpernel, on account of just being awful. So disappointing.

Never read it. (ducking).

But Holden Caulfield was the prototype; pulling Catcher in the Rye because it's "been done" is like saying, "you know what, everybody knows the basic plot development and twists of forbidden young love gone wrong by now, let's pull Romeo & Juliet from the reading list this year". No. No. No.

Yes, sorry, I meant to flag that. Part of the reason it's "been done" is because -he did it.- He introduced the disaffected teenager as a subject worthy of fiction. Is it the best example of this out there? Probably not. But the Wright Brothers didn't build the best airplane ever on their first try, either.

A Facebook friend defriended me over the last election (he claimed I was posting too many partisan posts; I said that it was my FB page, so feel free). I checked, and he is no longer on my list of friends. But now I can see his posts again in my feed, although he still is not on my friends list. How is this possible?


Please stop tempting my horny sons. And get married in college because you're not getting any younger. And knock off that booty shaking.

Ah, a conflation of this mom and the Princeton mom. Nicely done.

Dump The Multi-Function Already.


Notwithstanding how annoying the mass-overshare of that video was, was there anyone who was even a semi-serious student of the internet, video and pop cultrue who didn't see the fakery from miles away? The "twerking" was lame, the "fall" was obviously staged (in particular the way the stuntwomen pushed off the side wall to make sure she fell into the table) and the ignition occurring out of frame were just the most obvious "tells". Not that I'm claiming to be some kind of internet sleuth or anything, but, really?!?!? And is this also a further example of the Leno-ization (and by that I mean the embracing of over-played cultural touchstones to create non-humor in an incredibly lame way) of Kimmel? What next, Jimmy-walking?

I could've bought that it was real. I saw far lamer twerking videos being posted by people who thought they were hot stuff, even if they were twerking ridiculously. And I think the Atlantic piece that I linked to offered some compelling reasons for why this might have hit at just the right time to be accepted as believable.

Pretty much all of Hemingway. Yes, his style was revolutionary, but that was a very long time ago.


Every book we have to read in high school. And I am an avid reader. But come on: Great Gatsby, Catcher, Wuthering Heights, Death of a Salesman, etc, even the Autobiography of Malcolm X... all blah. And really rather outdated and irrelevant. I am leaving Shakespeare out of this though because I have always rather enjoyed him.

Oh dear me. I cannot believe that you are leaving in Shakespeare because he personally appeals to you, while removing Great Gatsby, which I find more compelling each time I read it. My personal preference must be given the same attention as your personal preference, please.

Can you and the chatters suggest some good YA fiction that doesn't feature teen angst and alienation? How about at least no teen angst or alienation?

How are you defining "angst and alienation?" I think we'd have to quibble over the meaning.

"Because you didn't think they were worth it" is not a valid argument against teaching certain books in high school English. You don't have to like a book to learn something about the author, the author's intent, style, etc.

Spoken like an English teacher?

Had to read it in 7th grade; during the mandatory "everybody read 5 chapters out loud in class" part, I discovered that my English teacher had no sense of humor when in my best Dudley Doo-Right voice I read the word "sword" without the silent "w"and she jumped all over the correction without missing a beat. Not sure if that makes my rebellious little mind fondly remember the book or dislike it....

Wait, she wanted you to pronounce it, "suh-wohrd?" Really?

No, because Shakespeare's writing is timeless. Not so sure about Salinger's.

Oh, I think Shakespeare is a terrific, over-written bore. But I accept that he should be in classrooms, and that I should read him.

I've been intrigued by the difference in attitudes toward girls between the mothers of girls as opposed to mothers of only boys. It seems to me that the mothers of boys tend to take on a rather hostile attitude toward girls and lose the insight into girls' behavior that they should have, what with them growing up as girls and know other girls. A case in point is Patricia Heaton's obnoxious comment about Sandra Fluke during all of that controversy. I don't think that a mother of daughters would have made nasty cracks such as "Got up in front of whole world & said I’m having tons of sex- pay 4 it!" and "Hey G-Town: stop buying toothpaste, soap, and shampoo! You'll save money, and no one will want to sleep with you!"

I've heard other people say this, and would be saddened if it were true.

Why is a rule about appropriate attire referred to as slut shaming so that boys will pay attention? I hope I turned out as a decent male, but I do recall being horrified as a 13 or 14 year old boy going through puberty that innapropriate attire could leave me with an erect part of my anatomy at school for a long time. Boys need to learn to behave, no doubt about it. But going through puberty, there are some reactions that are rather hard to control from the boys side.

Posting for further discussion fodder. Chatters?

Ugggggh, I hate that post so much. "We noticed as a family that you weren't wearing a bra and had a discussion about it and what it means about your worth as a human being" is an excellent way to make sure your sons grow up incapable of seeing women as anything other than inherently fallen creatures who have to be kept on a pedestal to preserve their innocence. Imagine how much better it would be if that mom had just looked at the photo and said, "Well, of course, girls don't generally wear bras before bedtime - it's unhealthy for their bodies and uncomfortable to sleep in." That might gross out the sons, but at least they won't instantly assume lustful motives the first time a gal pal from their freshman dorm hall plods by at midnight in a school sweatshirt and little boxers to offer some leftover beer or cookies from a party.

I like this quite a bit.

Of course your preference counts! I think the issue with a lot of these "classics" is that they don't necessarily translate at the ages at which we are supposed to read them. Great Gatsby was assigned for me as summer reading before my Junior year. I might be smart, but I also think I was too young. I will admit that I really appreciated the ending, re the funeral and Owl Eyes, but whenever I think I should revisit it again, I feel roadblocked. Even Catcher doesn't really make sense as an assignment for newly minted freshmen. I don't think we're there yet.

Hmmm. But I think that part of what helps you get "there" is being required to read challenging books, no? Teens would never be able to advance as readers and thinkers if they were only assigned "The Hunger Games" and nothing else. There needs to be a little bit of a nudge.

I'm going on a late season cruise week after next and have been wondering what to bring along to read. Was going to go with a bunch of Philip K. Dick short fiction, but now think I'm going to run off to download The Great Gatsby as soon as this chat is over. Thanks!

Do both -- Great Gatsby is very short, and there's a lovely 5-story Philip K. Dick selection free on Kindle that has some of my favorites.

I think there is an element of trying to make or making women ashamed of their bodies because of some magical mystical power they hold over males. I have to wear a bra as a matter of decency. Do I also need to be ashamed by a showing bra strap and then be told to great humiliation to cover it up because it might become an issue for someone else?


My underwear determines my worth as a human being??? Oh dear, let me find the corset and the fainting couch and tear up my voter registration card. What is this, Saudi Arabia?

In 1912.

Try the steampunk writers. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers. The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann. Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz.

I haven't read any of these, but I shall soon.

I'm kind of upset about it because I bought it and I feel foolish. I don't like any situation where someone is made to be a fool, e.g., practical jokes or "Punk'd". My friend posted a 20/20 video of a soldier who defends a Muslim cashier in a convenience store against a guy hired by 20/20 to insult him. Then, John Quinones comes out with the camera crew and they tell the soldier that it was a set up and while the soldier was polite and talked with the interviewer, I was irritated. If that happened to me, no way I'd sign any release to appear on TV. I hate it when anyone is set up like that, whether it's for social experiment or pure entertainment.

I really detest mean-spirited humor. I really detest mean-spiritedness in general. That being said, I think it would be immensely stressful to go through life worried that I might be made to feel foolish. Feeling foolish is part of being human, and in cases like this, where no malice was intended, it seems like such a wasted emotion.

OMG, that comment was a knife in my heart. I love all Thomas Hardy. Then again, I loved Ethan Fromme too. Then again, I'm the same person who didn't know last week that Alan Thicke is Robin's dad.


Nooooooo! I USED to think that, but then I started going to productions by actors who "get" Shakespeare, and treat the plays with timing and phrasing and actions better suited to the low-brow comedies they would have been to contemporary audiences rather than as "SHAKESPEEEEARE!" (holds up skull) I saw a production of "The Merchant of Venice" with Al Pacino as Shylock and a whole cast of equally gifted performers, and it was like watching something that had been written yesterday. Delightful and hilarious. Shakespeare was meant to be brought to life by pros, not read in alternating monotones by baffled and apathetic ninth-graders.

Believe me. I have seen/read/performed in a lot of Shakespeare. He's just not my thing.

Uhh... the answer is because your bodily functions, no matter how embarrassing to you, do not negate my right to bodily autonomy.


Yes. These women are odd. My MIL is one of them. She scared my husband and his brother about rape for years and years. They were afraid to ask girls out because they'd "cry rape". It's bizarre for women to think this way.

Actually, I've encountered several men who said their mothers had variations of this conversation with them. It might be fairly common.

Argh, the bra strap thing! I used to be embarrassed when mine showed, until I realized... it's FABRIC! Why is my bare shoulder sans strap less erotic than the same shoulder with a piece of elastic and cloth? Such a bizarre thing to sexualize.

Then again, when ankles where the only body part of women that men could see, ankles are what were fetishized.

No, I purposely mispronounced it like "su-word" in aprreciation of the slight subversiveness of the old Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons (i.e. as Dudley Do-Right would've pronounced "My Trusty Su-ward") and my English teacher reacted as if I has just murdered her Cairn Terrier named "Toto" (yes, she had one) right in front of the entire class. Just proves that aiuthority figures don't appreciate subtle subversive humor from a 7th grader.

Or that she'd never seen Dudley Do-Right.

Careful, you might get assigned something longer. When you don't like an author, pick his or her shortest work.

But then you're stuck reading Billy Budd when you could be reading Moby Dick.

It's true that Shakespeare is, and should be, edited for modern consumption (Kenneth Branagh made Claudio in "Much Ado About Nothing" palatable by cutting most of his dreadful speeches, for instance).

Just like Heath Ledger made "The Taming of the Shrew" palatable by transforming it into "10 Things I Hate About You?"

as long as you skip Chapter 32, the dissertation on the anatomy of the whale.

No fooling, Chapter 32 is my favorite. It's just such a genius, thorough thing to put in there.

There is an author named Kelly Link who writes short stories. I cannot describe them, but they are beautifully peculiar. A recent collection is called "Pretty Monsters." Completely suitable from anyone 12 and up with inclinations towards the .... odd.


Once upon a time there was a TV show called "Candid Camera," which did exactly the sort of thing John Quinones did on 20/20 -- except the "punks" weren't so mean-spirited.

I don't think that John Quinones's show is mean-spirited at all. I think it's a fascinating social experiment looking at the values that guide our behaviors in social situations.

Devil's Advocate: I grew up on Rocky & Bullwinkle and I have no memory of this quirk of Dudley's. (I was more of a Mr. Peabody and Sherman girl.) Your teacher was confused. I'm sorry, friend.

This is what I was thinking. I didn't want to be the one to say it. Your teacher might have been completely humorless. It's also possible that the joke was just bad.

My 9th grade English teacher had us all turn to a specific page in 'The Crucible' before we started reading it aloud in class. He told us to find the word 'whore' on the page and told us it was pronounced 'hor', not 'war'. He said it ruined the dramatic moment when the line was read as, "You war! You war!" I still laugh at that memory.

He sounds like a marvelous teacher.

Please. Heath Ledger did not write the screenplay.

Oh, and -you- could name the screenwriter of 10 Things I Hate About You right now, in the middle of a chat, with no Googling? Please.

Tryman Capote's novella "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Less sanitized than the movie.


How do rules on appropriate attire at school negate a woman's bodily autonomy? Especially when inapropriate attire can trigger involuntary and unwanted reactions.

How are you defining "appropriate attire?" Because this mother seemed to believe that "appropriate attire" involved a bra. And I disagree. The girls she was discussing were covered. It was bedtime. They were in pajamas. Not wearing a bra seems completely appropriate.

I differ from the person who wouldn't sign the release. The show - What Would You Do - does set up situations but the purpose is to see how ordinary people would respond. In this case, the soldier did the right thing and while the scene was fake, it was a true response. The show, in my humble opinion, is good as it gets people to think "what would I do in that situation" so if that situation were to occur (as most scenes are taken from real life news stories), they would know who to react.


It seems to me that so many of the texts that get assigned aren't the writer's best work. Even the teacher who introduced Shakespeare using Romeo and Juliet (the district required it) admitted this wasn't the best way to get into his plays.

But in the case of R&J, I think curriculums are banking on the fact that, even thought its not his best work, a play about two teens in a forbidden love affair is more likely to be appreciated by teenagers than, say, Coriolanus.

You're in school. That's what the giant social studies text is for. Just cover up. Boys and men are visual creatures, but as the poster says it doesn't have to be inappropriate for boys of that age to get aroused. It just happens. Carry a book. Don't blame the girls and their outfits.


I have come to the conclusion that you and I should form a reading club, where I take the parts I like and you take the parts that you like, and together we will be well-rounded.

Excellent suggestion. Let's start with Jane Eyre. Please take the St. John chapters. Thanks.

In "How Green Was My Valley," the poor boy at the school is humiliated for mispronouncing "misled" as "MY-zled."

A truly understandable mistake.

I just Googled "trusty sword" "Dudley Do-Right" and got 5 results, none of them relevant. Was this in fact a Dudley thing?

If we can't find out through Google, will we ever know the truth?

Okay, it's 3:10 and I'm about to perish from hunger. I'll see you all 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.

Read the The Web Hostess Archive .
Recent Chats
  • Next: