Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web

Dec 05, 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. I hope you all had lovely Thanksgivings last week. We'll get started at 2, but since my intro is rather long this week, I thought I'd give y'all plenty of time to mull it over.


Today, I thought I'd start by throwing out the story of Elan Gale, which, if you spent any time online over the holiday weekend, you are probably already aware of.

To recap: Gale, a Los Angeles producer of reality television, was on a flight home for Thanksgiving, when he began Tweeting about "Diane," an annoying passenger on his delayed flight who seemed to have no regard for any others, thinking only of her own inconvenience. Read the entire story here.


But then:


It got complicated. While many initially thought his Tweets were funny, others soon started complaining about perceived cruelty and misogyny in Gale's interactions with Diane (At one point, he sent her a note instructing her to perform a lewd sex act on him).


But then:


It got worse for Elan. "Diane's" cousin chimed in on the comments to his story, revealing that Diane had stage IV lung cancer, which is what was responsible for her jerky behavior to begin with.



On Tuesday, Elan came forth to say that he was going to post a photo of Diane on his blog. He posted a photo of...an empty chair. Diane was not real. The story was not real.

Whew. Where to begin. How about at the beginning?

Suspend your disbelief for a moment. If you didn't know the events were a hoax, what would think of Elan and his story?

A) I thought the Tweets were hilarious. Diane was clearly a jerk, and it's not like Elan Tweeted out her full name and photograph.

B) I thought the Tweets were misogynistic, and that it was obvious he wouldn't have responded that way to a boorish male passenger.

C) I thougth Elan's response was cruel, but not misogynistic.


Now you can stop suspending your disbelief. The whole thing -was- a hoax. But a lot of people believed it. Why do you think they believed it? What did this story do for us on Thanksgiving weekend? And what about the anonymous person who claimed to be "Diane's" cousin? What was that about?


I posted many months (ok, about 9 months) ago about good websites for the newly pregnant. I just thought I'd share that I'm waiting for my husband to get home to take me to the hospital! And as for the poll - I vote B. *If* she were real and a man, there's no way "eat a ****" would come up.

WHAT? Congratulation! Come back next week and introduce us all to your new baby!

(Who can top this post for the chat?)

I have to send uber kudos to whomever recommended broadchurch, i binged on it this week and am now officially obsessed. Can anyone recommend similar? I've already seen DA and Sherlock. Thanks much!

Try Whitechapel -- it's another British crime series in which they spend an entire season unraveling one mystery. A little more obvious, and a little more bloody that Broadchurch, but it's still pretty good, and free on Amazon Prime. Or, if you haven't already, watch The Killing. It's American, but has a lot of tonal similarities to Broadchurch.

Cupcake! I missed you- I couldn't make the chat on the 21st since I was at a conference, and last week we were all off (I spent the day with family and completely disconnected from social media and it felt amazing).


Soooo when I was reading the archive of the 21st's chat I leaped out of my chair and fist-pumped the air when someone mentioned those [bleeping] Upworthy videos and you noted their self-congratulatory tone. THANK YOU. This has been driving me insane for the past month and I am so, so tired of being told that a video of a toddler walking on ice for the first time will melt my cold, dead heart. (It did not, but it did make me giggle a little.)


I confess I may have gotten a bit tipsy while out with friends and gone on a rather long-winded rant about this trend of being told what to think/feel/how my life will be changed by the next 30 seconds, and how much it bothers me that in This Day and Age of what I think is a great deal of disconnection from human beings, we now have to be told what to feel when watching something. I think I ended up concluding that social media has made us all emotionless automatons who are so self-absorbed and shut off from others that we have to get emotional fulfillment from strange children and animals under a constructed, safe narrative. My friends' eyes started crossing and I shut up and had another drink, so I probably went way too far with it, but not two days later I watched another video of the same ilk, without the "This will change your life!" headline, and found myself getting all squee-ey over it.


While I agree with you that Upworthy is really good at choosing affecting videos - which means I probably won't stop watching at least some of them - I'm curious what you and other chatters think. Am I being too cynical? How can we get this trend to stop? Do we need a Buzzfeed listicle of "The Top 10 Videos That Let Me Down in 2013"? Also, how the heck was your Thanksgiving?!

You have come to exactly the right place to say all of this. I think that the language these videos/lists are presented in are really important because, as you note, they provide a shortcut instruction for how something is supposed to make us feel. It's very reassuring to know that something is "Guaranteed to make you cry/laugh/feel inspired." It takes a good deal of emotional work out of the process.

I found the tweets not funny, arguably misogynistic but not so much I'm ready to hang the guy, and frankly the joke lasted WAY too long. I stopped reading the tweets halfway through because, well, they weren't funny, just obnoxious and overboard considering this woman's supposed transgression. As for why people believed it...because it's believable these people and these reactions exist (sorry, probably a cop-out). Plus, I don't know what the point is. That people can be annoying and self-serving on planes? Duh. That he's kind of a jerk? Clearly.

They did go on too long. Part of the problem is that he had "Diane" respond somewhat self-righteously ("That's not appropriate, young man") rather than having her respond in an over the top retaliatory way. ("I'm going to serve you a fist sandwich for Thanksgiving, Mr."). Ultimately, you just wondered why he continued to engage.

It was like a really short epistolary novel...And I think Diane's cousin is also a hoax, but a less funny one.

Obviously Diane's "cousin" was a hoax, because a non-existent Diane could not have a cousin. I was more curious about whose hoax it was. Who would decide to write themselves into this narrative? Someone thought Elan was a jerk and wanted everyone to think that? Someone who thought the narrative could use a little more drama?

1) A combination of a) and b). I thought the "drink this and shut up" gesture was amusing, but the final notes were obvious and dopey. (And also, while I read the entire Storify, I didn't share it. First, I was skeptical [cops and airline attendants don't act like that] and second, had it been real, it was a story about two horrible people. Nobody wins.) As for why people believed it, it's because "neurotic, selfish holiday traveler" and "boorish, immature airline vigilante" are both character types we recognize. One of Gale's friends immediately started tweeting about the treatment that he'd do for it, because it read like a script. And because they were both horrible characters, nobody had to feel bad about laughing at them. Well, at least until the cancer angle, which I didn't see or hear about until the whole story was debunked. And as for that, I suspect one of Gale's associates knew it was the kind of thing he would make up and added to the story just to mess with him.

Re: screen treatment. I recently watched Identity Thief on TV (No, I don't know why. It was late at night and it was free), and it might, in fact, be the story of Elan and Diane.

I started at A) Hilarious, but moved pretty quickly to B) Misogynistic. It stopped being funny even before the whole sex act thing, but that was over the top. I think people believed it because we've all had a Diane on a flight we've been on - that person who is so-over-the-top awful that you wished the doors of the plane actually opened so you could either push them out or jump yourself, because either way you'd be out of your misery. Elan tapped into that perfectly. As for Diane's cousin? Not a clue.

Here's a question: If Diane had been real, and if she had been on your flight, would you have said anything to her? I ask this because I'm curious about the average individual's comfort/willingness to call out rude behavior.


A few weeks ago, I was lined up with a friend in a very, very long queue to see the opening night of a popular movie. Everyone had their tickets, but the doors hadn't been opened yet. One mad (40-ish?) went directly to the front of the line, where the usher pointed him back to the end. Instead of going to the end, he went about halfway to the end. There, some people in line assumed he was confused and said, "Oh, still not the end -- see, it curves around here." The man nodded, and then he STILL didnt' go to the end. He moved about two people down, cutting dozens of people off, and there he stayed.


At that point, I said, pretty loudly: "Hey. Buddy. That's a pretty jerk move. The rest of us have all been waiting in line. What makes you think you get special treatment?"


So. Was I rude for calling him out in public? On the one hand, it wasn't a big deal for him to cut in line. On the other hand, people thinking that common civilities don't apply to them is the single most irritating trait in another human to me.

Follow up question: Have you ever called out a person for being rude? (In person. Online doesn't count). What were the circumstances?

I have heard many men make slurs to other men about go and eat something or suck something.

And increasingly more often, I've heard women make it, too. It's a phrase that is slowly losing it's sexual connotation and instead becoming just a rude insult. We're not completely there yet, though.

Does anyone have a favorite site that streams Christmas music for free?

Besides Pandora or Spotify? I'm currently plugged into a Pandora station scheduled to provide songs like the Bing Crosby/David Bowie "Little Drummer Boy" duet.

What does the internet and Dear Prudence think of the decision not to charge the FSU QB with rape?

I...think you would probably have to ask Dear Prudence?

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know there was a line."

Wait, what is this in reference to? My story? He knew there was a line! The line had been pointed out to him three times.

I have observed real life incidences on the quiet car on Amtrak. There have been a few times when someone decides to talk on their cell phone at a voice level that the whole car can hear. Often, someone complains. I have found it interesting that the person on the cell phone often ignores the complaints and continues, One time, the person complaining spoke louder and made more noise than the person talking on the cell phone. I do wonder what type of person gets on a quiet car and has no regard for the fact that people expect silence or talking in whispers.

It's weird, isn't it? There's a very fine line between when the vigilante actually becomes more annoying than the original annoying person. The key is to know when to speak up, and then also know when to back off, because your complaints have fallen on deaf ears.

I make a wicked Peking duck and I invited a friend over to have some. I asked if she wanted to eat some of my duck. Well, I mistyped and spellchecked changed it to "peeking d!!!!" and, well, I got a irate response.

Hahahaha (If this is true. I don't think I believe you.)

I didn't find it misogynistic at all, and I'm a chick in her 30s. Eat a d*** is not requesting a sex act. I've said it to people and I don't even have the anatomy! It's a jokier version of go [bleep] yourself, in my eyes. It was believable because air travel succcccccks so much, and more so around the holidays. So, I'd totally believe a passenger would be a jerk and send someone a nasty note, because people are jerks.


Ooh, that's awesome. What happened? Did he move to the end of the line?

No. He turned away and pretended not to see me. And then a few other people piped up and said, "Yeah, dude, what are you doing? You cut in line!"


And then I started to feel kind of bad for him, because at that point, everyone would have noticed if he'd gone to the back of the line, and probably watched him walk there. So I'm not sure what I wanted him to do at that point. Maybe laugh and say, "You're right! Total jerk move! I'm just so excited about this movie!" And then we all would have laughed.

I think even Miss Manners would agree that you did the right thing, although she would probably take issue with your tone. OTOH, saying, "excuse me, please, sir, I believe you have mistakenly..." would probably not have been as effective. Oh. Wait. You didn't say whether the guy moved after you called him out.

It's true. Miss Manners is so classy. Her strategy is to always act like the mistake was your fault. So in this instance, I probably should have said, "Pardon me, sir. The rest of us have somehow stupidly gotten behind you in line, when we are supposed to be in front of you. We're so hopeless. Can you please assist us in moving in front of you where we belong?"

The minute I read that this guy was a producer for a reality show, any trace of belief that might have been lurking in my consciousness disappeared. And I couldn't believe this would happen with the flight attendants refusing to do anything about it. Cruel AND misogynistic and feeds into people's worst instincts.

Pretty ironic that many people's clue that the event was fake was the fact that he's a reality television producer.

lol Twitter. That is all.

That's NEVER all.

MY HERO! I feel exactly the same way, except that I probably avoid the videos more than you do. I especially hate the idea that everyone has collectively lost their faith in humanity and we need to watch a random video about something heartwarming in order to "restore your faith in humanity!!1!!!". Barf. People need to get out more if a 30-sec video of a toddler hugging a homeless man is the only thing stopping them from wishing for the destruction of the human race by another Flood.



People need to get out more if a 30-sec video of a toddler hugging a homeless man is the only thing stopping them from wishing for the destruction of the human race by another Flood.

Likewise, I refuse to click on that current Slate cooking series whose titles tell me I'm doing it wrong. NO, I'M NOT!!! Heck, yesterday on the Post's "Free Range" cooking chat, the food mavens invited readers to submit the things they do in cooking that are supposedly wrong (I'm one of many who keeps a stick of butter out, instead of refrigerating it, and it doesn't go rancid, no matter what the "experts" say).

Plus, it stays spreadable that way.

My wife and I have found that almost every time we go to the movies these days we have to be the people who call out others for being rude. Sometimes it i phone usage during movie time (do you really think that bright screen isn't bothering others?) but mostly it is loud and incessant talking. The worst example of this was during GRAVITY, which we wanted to see on the big screen in 3D, which features long stretches of silence which are CRUCIAL to the story and experience. I think people have gotten used to watching movies at home and they act exactly the same in public. We shush them and end up feeling like we are the bad people. I think we are about at the point of only going to movies that MUST be seen on the big screen. Makes me sad but I'm not going to pay all that money to then have to scold people who still don't behave. Sigh.

So do you just say, "Shhhhhh!" Or do you accompany it with something else?

You should get one free punch a year.

I really shouldn't post this suggestion.

For the chatter who's looking for Christmas music: 103.5 KOST FM is on IHeartRadio. Christmas music 24x7 throughout the season!

And if you're in DC, 97.1 is 24/7 Christmas. Though I haven't been that happy with their selections this year. Though I'm still listening.

Not to go all dark on you, but we believed it was true because we wanted it to be true. We immediately recognized Diane as someone we've worked with or dated or dined next to, who didn't know when to quit. And we universally hate that, because we recognize enough of Diane in ourselves (I mean, do you REALLY care about where the guy sitting behind you is going once he gets off the plane?) to want a vulgar hero to triumph over it. We recognized enough of Elan in ourselves as well, wanting to have the guts to confront the petty micromanaging boss or full-of-himself customer with such (if you'll pardon the pun) elan. We want to believe we too could reply so cavalierly and devastatingly on nothing more than a whim, when we're all too prone to not making waves (when was the last time you took time to confront an angry customer at a restaurant or grocery store instead of focusing on your butternut squash soup or finding another checkout line). We want to believe we have the capability to successfully tamp down our own selfish impulses, so we believed in the triumph of Elan over Diane. And for what it's worth, A and B are equally my votes.

This is beautifully articulated.

It's such a tidy morality play written out for us, isn't? The good of humanity. The bad of humanity. The good and bad of humanity.

What you should do is sit next to them, listen in, and offer opinions.

It's weird how we're supposed to pretend that we can't overhear cell phone conversations, right? No matter how loud or how intimate they get.

We were attending a brilliantly performed early opera (Monteverdi) in a perfect small space (a church) that meant the performers were only a couple of feet from the front row. We were in heaven until we heard a guy talking on a cell phone a couple of rows behind us. The performers kept on, the two front rows turned and glared, but the guy didn't stop until I said, loudly, "SHHHHH!" He glared at me and said Oh-KAYYY but he did stop.

On a cell phone? In the opera? Truly defiant.

If you're still reading, congratulations!, and second, I hope you're taking away the fact that you need to post as many cute videos of your baby to Upworthy as possible, because it may someday save the world.

It's true. Soon-to-be-new mom. Only your baby has the power to rescue humanity from its impending doom.

Yes, the "peking duck" story was a joke. I do send in humor as well as true stories, but that was was not true. I don't have a link to it, but I may search for it if I may, but did you or anyone else see the posting going around on Facebook (and perhaps elsewhere) about spellcheck errors? I don't know if they were real or not, but they were hilarious.

I've seen, they're hilarious, and I'm pretty sure most of them are not real. Because what functional spell check would change "What time do you want to meet?" to "Bleepity bleep bleep bleep bleep."

This happened in a newsgroup I used to frequent, in a galaxy far far away, because it was Usenet, before the WWW. A kind of obnoxious person showed up and hung around being kind of obnoxious, people gently told her/it off, drama escalated, and then someone claiming to be a friend of this person posted that the obnoxious person had died and didn't we all feel terrible. I didn't, for one, because it was so suspicious, and other internet-smart people in the group presented evidence that it was a hoax. I have no idea whether the original person ever existed or was the same person claiming to be the friend, but this sort of "how can I manipulate as many people as possible?" thing has been around for a very long time.

But then, when the friend of the obnoxious person -also- died, and yet another friend had to log on to tell you all -- then you felt really bad.

I was at a theater and I could see someone was holding and hiding something omitting a light near me during the performance. It was only a minor bother, as I was more curious to know what he was doing than the light that bothered me. I later ascertained that it was a guy watching the football game on his cellphone.

We could ask why he came to the theater if what he really wanted to do was watch a football game, but we'll never truly understand the answer.

You need to stop feeling like you are the bad people. Seriously. The silent majority is sitting there mentally applauding you.

Do you feel better yet, Shusher?

Middle-aged female here, who went back to college a decade ago and would wear "business casual" to campus. When students in the school computer lab would start talking on their cell phones -- strictly forbidden -- at a voice-level that was audible more than one or two people away, I'd go over and tell them, "I'm sorry but there's no cell-phone usage permitted in the computer lab, you need to take your conversation out into the hall" (and I'd point to the nearest sign to that effect). At first I was amazed that it always worked, but then I realized that due to my age and attire I was being mistaken for a faculty member!

And people try to pretend it doesn't matter how you dress...

What she said. I'm of the same demographic. I thought the whole thing was funny, and the final point (don't be a glass bowl) was a good one.


I'm sorry, I guess you didn't realize there was a line here. You just need to go to the end of the line (as I point toward it).

Yes. But that's what the man had already been essentially told two other times -- first by the usher, and then by the second person in line. (Which probably should have been my clue that he wasn't going to move, and I should just let it go).

I presume the man who went to the theater and watched a football game did so because his wife wanted him to go because they bought two tickets, only he wanted to watch the game, and that was their compromise. I don't know that for a fact, but that would be my guess.

Frankly, mine, too. But why wouldn't the wife/partner/whatever rather leave him at home and instead take someone who actually wanted to be there?

Although this is tantamount to blasphemy, I know, I have a similar gripe about some of the posts that everybody's favorite helmsman George Takei keeps making on Facebook. Sooooo many of them have become along the lines of "Don't like this unless you get it within 10 seconds" or "Only true geeks will understand this one," and then it's just some incredibly obvious groaner like a Christmas wreath with a picture of Khan in the middle of it. I love George, but so much of this feels like he's pandering to an audience that wants to feel like part of an elite community. We're not exactly talking about allusions to obscure medieval treatises here, and was there ever a point in our culture where recognizing, say, a "Star Wars" or "Alien" reference makes you an exceptional and learned being? The images are often very cute, but I wish he'd just post them without the silly "test" angle.

I hadn't noticed that aspect of his postings, but I'm definitely going to pay more attention next time I see something crop up.

If it was omitting a light, I don't see the problem.


The pianist stopped and put his hands in his lap. The guy was so embarrassed that he got up and left the auditorium.

Wow. Wow! Good for the pianist?

No. Just letting it go is what these people count on. We need to stomp on them publicly for as long as it takes. Don't tweet or anything, just call the guy out.

"We need to stomp on them publicly for as long as it takes."


This sentence strikes me as very wrong. And yet I think I understand your sentiment.


Incidentally, the other recent time I publicly called someone out was a Diane incident. Bad storms during a layover in Atlanta, all flights canceled, some of us had been waiting in line for three hours to be rebooked. A middle-aged woman swooped to the front of the line, ignoring all of us. I said, "Ma'am, the line is back there." She batted her eyelashes and said, "But my flight has been canceled." I said: "All of our flights were canceled. That is why we have been standing in this line for three hours."


Then she ignored me and turned back to the desk attendant, who, instead of directing her to the back of the line, apparently decided it was less trouble to just help her. I really hated that desk attendant then.


Any thoughts on the woman in Oregon who ended up live tweeting her husband's fatal car accident?

I haven't seen that! Real? Hoax? It sounds disturbing for a lot of reasons.

I bring her along to provide the other wives with tailgate chatter.

Don't get me wrong, I'd read at a football game, too. But those tickets are expensive to waste on a bookworm!

Do racist people count? Because I called one out BIG time once. Poor guy. Not only did I look like him so he figured I must've been on his side (not!), but I'm just a little girl so he had to sit there and take it. Hehehe...

Nah, not the same. It's our public duty to chastise racists. Whereas it's more of an optional thing to call out rude people.

(Hey, what number of question are we on? I feel like we've been typing a lot.)

No -- I probably would have just mumbled what a jerk she was and have tried to be extra polite to the flight attendants.

A well-placed, "Man, your job must be really hard during the holidays" probably also couldn't hurt.

He doesn't do it all the time, but when he does, it's just ridiculous. There's one from November 16 that says "Another age test," and it's E.T. - E.T., for crying out loud!! - clutching a gigantic phone bill in shock. George, honey, no.

We all get it, George. It's just not funny.

has anyone ever seen a cashier turn back someone with 20 or 30 items in the 10 item of less line?

Never. They are never punished for their rudeness.

Did you see that one? I thought it was funnier than the Elan Gale one, but never did hear how it turned out because Elan won thanksgiving...

Turned out to also be a hoax. Alas.

True story. I was standing in line at the concession stand at RFK stadium when someone tried to cut in front. Everyone shouted to the attendant "Serve the line!" The moral of the story is never get between soccer fans and their beer.

I applaud these fans.

As far as I know it's real. Oh it's Washington, not Oregon. I put a link to the article below. Basically, the woman live tweets police activity based on information she hears on a police scanner. She started tweeting about a car accident then slowly came to the realization that it was her husband and that the accident was fatal. If it's a hoax - weird. I just don't get why. If it's real - live tweeting police activity seems like a strange hobby. (But I knit so what do I know for strange hobbies.) But working out the dawning realization on Twitter - including a comment that the kids have arrived home from school - seems...I don't even know what.

Oh, that's terribly sad. It makes more sense, though. I'd thought that you meant that the two of them were in a car accident together and then instead of attending to her husband, she just kept Tweeting.

See, the person at the front of the line should have stepped up, elbowed this woman out of her way, and started talking to the desk attendant, loudly if necessary. It's what I would have done if I had been at the front of the line.

I can't tell if we're assertive people with necessary gumption or just total donkeys.

I was with an 83 year old woman who was shopping. In her mind, she had nine items, including one item of which she bought three boxes. She got in the Ten or Less line and stood in it. When she got to the cashier, the cashier told her she had 12 items and had to go to the other line.

Now, that's unnecessary. That deserves a pass, quite obviously. (And in many places, three of the same item would indeed count as one item).

I was reading my talk at an academic conference (with a 15 minute limit per speaker) in which I was new to the field, when one of the conference organizers turned around in her seat so her back was to me and began talking in at normal conversational level with the person behind her. I tried to keep going, but soon was so distracted that I was losing my place in my talk and even advancing my PowerPoint slides at the wrong times. So I did like the pianist and stopped talking, assuming that the yakker would notice the silence and promptly either shut up or take her conversation out into the lobby. But no, she kept talking for another minute or so till she was done. Afterwards, she raked me over the coals for having been rude to her(!) by drawing attention to her conversation, which she informed me was about something important (as if the scheduled speaker weren't?). I resisted the temptation to tell she was the one who'd been rude (or at least more rude, although I don't think I was rude at all, because I didn't "call her out"), but instead explained that the distraction had made me lose my place repeatedly in my talk and with my slides. She repeated to me how rude I'd been, and thereafter I said nothing. This was witnessed by several people who'd known her professionally for a long time, and I later learned that they considered her an unpleasant person -- and judging by the way they've acted in subsequent years, they all seem to like and respect me -- so I "won" because I played my cards right and not lashing out and calling the woman rude, even though she was!

This sounds dreadful, but it sounds like you handled it well.

While Christmas shopping, I once called out a woman that ran to the front of a newly opened register from about 12 people back when the cashier called out "I can take the next person in line" I yelled" You were not the next person in line! You just cut in front of like 12 people!!" She didn't budge but her daughter was shopping with her refused to join her so she had to wait anyway.

People who run to a newly opened register, even when they should be waiting. The Worst.

Closely related to the people who speed along the shoulder of the highway and then merge at the last minute, totally working over those of us who have been moving at a diligent crawl for seven  miles.

Bur RE: Elan Gale: Told you so. This screamed fake from the get-go. However, even if it's fake, it doesn't excuse his misogynistic, jerky (I wanted to use a couple of other words...) behavior, even if it was a "joke", Bottom line is, fake or not, Elan's a tool -- maybe even moreso, since he faked the whole thing in an attempt to be funny and create something "viral" (man I hate that word....)

Posting. (But you don't get to say "Told you so," when at least half of the people following the event were also saying, "This is fake." I think it's against "Told you so" rules.)

Psychiatrists call it projection, accusing other people of what you yourself are doing.

How wonderful it would have been if the professional conference was for the American Psychiatric Association.

I once was on the Quiet Car (one of my favorite places ever) and a woman was talking on her cell phone. We we just started out of NYC so I kind of waited to see if she would wrap it up, she did not and so I pointed out it was the quiet car. She glared at me and told me "I hope you have a child in the hospital someday!" So now I was the bad person. She did leave but I wanted to say that since every car on the train except this one allows you to talk that maybe you should have choosen one of them. But again, she had a child in the hospital so I guess I'm supposed to know that and let her break the rules.

Ouch. All around.

I've seen this only once, and it wasn't in the U.S. I remember it both because it was such an unusual occurrence, and also because the perpetrator argued using an idiom I hadn't heard before.

Ooh, what was the idiom?

While we're on the subject of hoaxes, over the last week, I've been following a bizarre incident occurring in a professional community to which I'm connected. I noticed a few Facebook friends commenting on the page of a blogger, known to many, who had apparently been beaten and left for dead in a massive assault by more than a half-dozen attackers. A few details raised my eyebrows immediately - people identifying themselves as family members systematically updating all of her social media profiles with incredibly dramatic and inconsistent updates (she's being airlifted to a private hospital... now she's sitting up and watching TV and it looks like she can go home tomorrow), reports of a subsequent dealing of vigilante justice by friends on the perps without any identification of the suspects in question, and finally, a defensive and angry appearance by the suspiciously stable "victim" herself to blast naysayers when frightened friends started prying too deep for hospital details and contacting local media to demand to know why this attack wasn't being covered. I felt so disgusted with myself for immediately suspecting this person (who might indeed have been a victim of a major crime!) of lying, but I felt weirdly vindicated when she went into a frenzy of blocking and deleting anyone who asked too-pointed questions about the specifics, and when confused local reporters popped in to mention that police could find no record of the incident. My question, therefore, is: Where do you draw the line between avoiding victim-blaming of somebody who may legitimately be in a terrible situation, and not getting caught up in yet another case of Münchausen by Internet? Too many similar incidents from my LiveJournal and message board days have left me so jaded about this sort of thing (seriously, how many people fighting for their lives make it a priority to say to family members something like, "Here's my password to that cat fancier forum I frequent... tell my fellow Turkish Van obsessives that my last thoughts were of them."), but I keep being proven right whenever something seems "off" and can't be corroborated by outside sources.

I wish I had seen this earlier, because it's so fascinating, and I'd love to know more about this particular incident. Email me at hessem@washpost.com post chat, if you wouldn't mind?

Okay, we can all agree that "eat my ...." is misogynistic, wrong and unfunny. But what if he had written "eat a bag of ....s"? That's clearly ludicrous enough, and therefore non-threatening to any rational human, to be funny, right?

Except that I don't think we can agree that "Eat my...." is misogynistic, because about half of the people who have written in this chat have done so to say that they think the phrase has become almost gender neutral.


That being said: If Elan had instead said, "Eat my toe," or "Eat my eyeball," I would have thought it was both funnier and also completely devoid of any sexual connotations.

I also noticed the lower quality of his more recent Facebook posts. I wonder if it has anything to do with the other new page that his husband and staffers are now running.

Hmm. Good question. Dunno!

I'm currently reading a book where the term "viral" refers to the masses of (former) humans who have been turned into vampire like creatures by an escaped virus/biological weapon. Just wanted to share.

Oh, you mean where "viral" is used to refer to an actual virus, the way the word was invented and intended to be used?

A psychiatrist pulls habits out of rats.

Y'all are so funny today.

Does anyone else get annoyed by people posting lost dog notices on Facebook? Especially for dogs that do not even belong to them?

No. But only because I have a dog, and she did get lost last year, and I was just brimming with gratitude at the number of people who leaped to help spread the word about her that day. She's really fast and she's really shy -- she'd gotten about four miles away by the time I found her, and we never would have, were it not for the kindness of strangers.

A friend of mine and I were at a fast-food restaurant when a woman stepped on his foot as she was walking by. He said, "Ow." Then, as she said nothing, he said, "No, no big deal, it's cool for people to step on my feet." She turned around, screamed (literally), "I'm SORRY, OK?!" and stormed out. Her friend then yelled at him, "She was CRYING, you [glassbowl]!" and flung the contents of his tray into his lap. The entire place was stunned. He has since told me that he isn't so passive-aggressive anymore, for fear of getting food thrown at him.


I think we should start using it for the compulsive forwarders of our acquaintance (you folks know how you are), as in "My best friend is a total viral."


Yes. But is this case it also refers to an individual vampire-like creature.

Yes, missed that the first read-through, caught it the second.

Of course it is. Saying "told you so" when you did not say anything to the people you are posting at, is laughable. Maybe you told someone else so at the time, but not us, and not today.

And now that we've cleared that up -- it's after 3:15 and I need to scoot.

See you all next week, same time and places. GSTQ.

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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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