Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web

Jun 05, 2014

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.

Hi all -- I'm here, but seriously late, and after a snafu that kept the chat off the homepage. Did anyone remember the chat besides me? Any of you who are here will get special prizes of a yet-undetermined nature. (I'll probably forget about the prizes).


Let's talk for a fewww minutes, at least, shall we?

Is that you that was name checked in the last David Baldacci book? It was a pretty enjoyable read, with lots of local references.

Wait, what? I have heard nothing of this book of which you speak. What is it called? Tell me everything.

Once again you are not on the front page. I'm beginning to think you do this on purpose as a way to sort out the riff-raff and allow only those of us that are worthy and pure of heart in to the chat where we can make merry and frolic. Or not.

The problem is that in order to appear on the homepage, I have to build the chat at least 24 hours in advance. This is an easy thing to remember if I'm at my work desk and computer, but an impossible thing to remember if I'm on the road, with only my iPhone, because iPhones don't build chats.

The only solution to this problem is for one of you to pretend to be me every week, sneak into the Washington Post, and build the chat. That is the only solution. Who's up for it?

I have a question harking back to your old web hostess days! Back when I was in college, I had a facebook account. I ended up de-activating it not long after I graduated and haven’t used it since. However, now there is a local group I’m a part of who does all their communicating via facebook. I keep missing out on things, so I figured it was time to bite the bullet and get another fb account. But it turns out, once I put in my email address, my old account is still there!! All my old wall posts from 2009, pictures of me in college…. It’s like a time bizarre capsule. Is there any way to remove everything (preferably all at once) and start fresh? Delete old wall posts, un-tag old photos, just get a clean slate? I’m not trying to hide anything in my past, but this 5-year gap from my fb page to now is weird.

Do you only have the one email address? Do you have to use it for Facebook? That would be my first thought -- just open a new Facebook account using a different email address. One day, you might want to go back and look at all your 2009 paraphernalia, so I wouldn't delete it just yet.

What the?? Can you elucidate?

Who else followed this exceedingly creepy story of two 12-year-old girls who stabbed a third friend in the woods, because of the Internet meme, Slender Man?

Here's a news story on the attack, and here is the Know Your Meme link to explain the origin of the myth -- a sort of folkloric tale mostly passed down via messageboards.

I do only have one email.... well, except for work which I don't want to use for FB. I guess I could get a second one?!

Get a second one. Use it to receive newsletters, Facebook alerts, and other things that are one step above spam, but which you don't actually want to monitor or have clog up your regular inbox.


One doesn't even need a new email account. Gmail and Hotmail offer aliasing options.

** Or do this.

Well, a few dozen of us, anyway. I can't think of any worthy questions or topics at the moment, though. Can you give us one of your multiple choice thingies?

The fact that you think I can whip up a multiple choice thingy at the drop of a hat shows how drastically you underestimate the preparation for these chats. Usually I spend hours combing the Internet and trying to come up with a discussion topic that will allow us to discuss both current events and the meaning of life.


I have failed you all.

I couldn’t join last week’s chat live, but in reading the transcript I wanted to comment on the idea of women who don’t call themselves feminists. I went to a women’s college, strongly believe men and women are equal and should be treated as such, and for many years have identified as a feminist. However, within the last year or so I’ve been told by several times by various women that I have no right to use that label for myself because I am conservative (one woman told me anyone who was pro-life isn’t a real feminist). I’m curious to know what other chatters think about this – is there room for disagreement within the feminist movement? If not, does that help or harm the movement, and how?

I sure hope there's room for disagreement. A feminist is -- or should be, right? -- anyone who believes in equality between both genders. But how to achieve that goal -- just like achieving the goal of eradicating poverty, or homelessness, or improving schools -- is something that reasonable minds can disagree on.

What does everyone think about Brian Zulberti, the naked hunger strike lawyer? The cynical side of me wants to say that anyone who can just forgo a regular job altogether to mount a social media campaign about standing up to employers doesn't really have a leg to stand on. ...He is kind of cute, though.

Who, this guy?

Cynicism aside, how convinced are we re: the efficacy of hunger strikes? They're flash-in-the-pan attention raisers, but how often do they actually achieve what they set out to achieve?

Are there perks?

I don't know -- my editor just gave me a piece of chocolate. Does that count?

I started to but quickly dropped it. Too horrible, and it made me feel like a voyeur for reading about the two girls.

You raise an interesting point. What is the line between following something because you're trying to learn about the world, and following something because of prurient interest? In my job, it's easy to justify lots of things as the former, when sometimes they might be the latter. Chatters?

This is going to sound a bit weird, but do you think these girls essentially fulfilled their own prophecy by doing this violent act in the name of this made-up internet scary guy? I.e., Did they make him 'real' by their actions?

It doesn't sound creepy. It raises interesting questions about how myths come to life. If the Slender Man is a monster who abducts or kills children, and if two girls have then harmed a child because of him, then yes -- he is now a real monster.

Not exactly a one-to-one comparison, but when people say, "The devil made me do it," after committing a crime, they are, in some ways, correct. Their belief in the devil made them do it. If they didn't believe, perhaps there would have been no crime.

Of course there is. Insisting you can't be a feminist because you're conservative is like insisting you can't be a feminist if you cook or sew or stay at home raising children.


How come the plural of eye is eyne, but the plural of toe isn't tyne?

Isn't the plural of eye...eyes?

Ah, see, the problem is that you make it look easy. (Well, not a problem, really, because that just means you're good at it.) By the way, I just caught up on last week's transcript, and let me just say the best thing about this chat is that you/we can carry on simultaneous conversations about something serious like #yesallwomen and something frivolous like Kate's wardrobe malfunction, without missing a beat. That's quite an accomplishment.

I agree that is the best thing about this chat. After that chat was over, I worried that other people would think that the conflation was disrespectful, but then I realized those people would never understand the chat anyway.

(by the way, we'll go until 3:15 or 3:30 because we started late, assuming that questions keep coming in. It's very cozy in here today).

For the OP: I would argue that being able to choose between being "Pro-life" or "Pro-choice" is feminist - the ability to be a woman and have our voices carry as much weight as a man's is the definition of feminism. So, as long as you're totally fine with everyone being able to have an equal opinion and voice on any subject - even if it theirs doesn't align with yours - then yes, you're still a feminist.

Posting, thanks.

I am only following the story because I want to learn something about it.

What have you learned? Tell us.

This sounds like...a very special scrap book.

This is almost too gross to laugh at, but since it made me laugh, I'll post it anyway.

The miser and the pig are of no use to anyone until dead.

Is this the same person who just wrote in trying to convince us all that the plural of eye is eyne?

I would gaze unto thy eyne.

Okay, fine. The plural of eye can be eyne.


I've come to a realization about viciousness on the internet. I have led a relatively sheltered internet existence for an IT professional--I read a few blogs, search for technical info on the web, some entertainment, the basics. I had assumed that the hive of internet scum and villainy was YouTube commenters, and I purposefully watch videos on full screen so I don't have to accidentally see anything that would make me angry. I also assumed they were all 14 year old boys who were saying things they knew would never fly in real life...Then I got pregnant.


I would rather gouge out my own eyes than spend one more minute immersed in the horror show that is the DCUrbanMoms forums. It doesn't matter what someone asks or does, or how politely, they are immediately met with the most horrible vitriol from all corners of the parenting spectrum. The most innocent "Hey, what are you other moms doing about X?" is instantly flamed with "Well, if you would use the Search feature..." "Well, I don't deal with X, because I'm an infinitely better human being than you" Ugh. I really worry about my ability to find support in the community if everyone behaves like this.

Mommy boards are notorious cesspools of meanness. I can only guess it's because people are so genuinely worried about screwing up their kids that they seek out opportunities to justify their own choices and belittle the parenting discussions of others.


But I've especially heard Crazytown stories about DCUrbanMoms. What about a board on TheBump.com? It's an offshoot of TheKnot, which tends to have pretty supportive boards.

It's thine eyne. Thy heart, but thine anything beginning with a vowel.

This is getting dangerous. Much like calling the Slender Man into existence, if we keep talking about this we are going to actually change "eyne" into a word.

In the acknowledgements he says "To MK Hesse, hope you liked seeing your name in the pages". Not sure what your middle initial is, but since the book is filled with local scenes and references, and your literary background, that it might be referencing you.

Oh, bummer. Nope, my middle initial is L. I was hoping you meant that there was a character named Monica Hesse.

I was going to write and complain you were left off the home page! I love your chat and it is very hard to find sometimes!

It's not the homepage's fault. It's mine. Mine eyne.

Because it's English. How often does English make sense? Also, eyne is obsolete, like kine. You don't drive past a meadow and say, 'Look, kine!' any more.

But if you're in Scotland and you drive past some highland cattle in a meadow, you -would- say, "Look, coo!"

The Post had an online chat group a few years ago on worklife/family balance that had some of the meanest mommies you'd ever want to meet -- or not.


The answer to this question is almost invariably Offbeat Empire. Sure, some meat questions might bring out some emphatic vegans, but the commenting policy is pretty strict about being supportive and helpful. And the user base is, by definition, not committed to orthodoxy. In this case, OffbeatFamilies is the way to go, but OffbeatHome has good stuff too. (Not a parent, just a homeowner who thinks OffbeatHome is really cool. (Imperfect, but cool.))

Thanks -- I'm not familiar with OffbeatEmpire, but I'll take your word for it as a supportive community for non-troll moms.

I work across the street from the Post (at least until you move). I'd be happy to play you. Granted, I am a brunette and have curly hair. Are you tall? You look tall. I might be shorter than you. :) (I kid and I'm not stalking you)

I'm short. I just wear high heels all of the time. But I always wanted brown, curly hair, so this is going to work out really well.

Also, entitlement. Yes, pandas are very cute. They are also wild animals who need extreme care because they don't breed well. What would possibly make a couple think that the zoo would say yes? (There is of course the possibility that this was a way to get the wedding written up without being a normal part of the society pages, in which case, well played.)

The better question is why you would want a panda at your wedding, anyway. Obviously, if you're going to have animals at your wedding they should be large petting zoo animals for everyone to enjoy, like preferably a llama, a goat and a donkey.

Can you put a reminder in your phone for these chats? And maybe designate a back-up person who can quickly post "Monica won't be available today" or "Monica will be late today"?

Truly, it's like I'm back in high school and you are my collective parents, suggesting that maybe if I put my alarm clock across the room, I would stop being late for my 6:30 a.m. class.

Reading his story was a chance to examine my own soul. I remember hearing for the first time about someone being fired because of some transgression that was purely personal (like going to a strip club) and being shocked that a company could be so fascist as to punish you for something you did on your own time. I discussed it with a friend who argued that a company has a right to protect its reputation by employing only people who represented its values. Now when I hear about an incident like this, I marvel that people could be so stupid and jeopardize their job on a FB post or picture. I think I am just more afraid of losing a job now and more concerned about how people just let their freak flag fly so publicly.

Interesting. Parts of what you mention get back to the free speech discussion we touched on a few chats ago: You have the right to let your freak flag fly, and the United States will not imprison you for it. However, you do not necessarily have the right to let your freak flag fly, while still being employed at a private company.


If it makes you feel any better, it's much, much better irl. That's been my experience, anyway. For eaxmple, I live in a DC suburb, and my neighborhood has plenty of moms who stay home and plenty who work full-time, and while I am always reading about the "mommy wars" online, my kids are 2 and 6 and I have yet to experience any judgement from the other moms in my community.


I belong to an FB mom's group and it's been very positive and supportive. So they're not all terrible--you just have to find the right one.

Another one, thanks.

One of the ironies of feiminsm, dating back to the 1970s, is that corporate America used the increase in females in the workplace to keep incomes low. Most households in the 1960s could afford more of their basket of goods and have savings aside on one income. Today, most two families incomes may afford similar overall goods, yet two incomes are required, and most families have negative savings, i.e. they are in debt. While it is great that more employment opportunities are now more easily accessible to women, we really should be questioning our society that has changed into one that just a few decades ago one could afford to put children through college and live a debtfree comfortable life.

I like this post -- looking at the larger issues of how various societal choices end up impacting culture in unexpected ways.

I remembered the chat. Where's my prize?

I already forgot that I had promised a prize.

I don't know how to write this without sounding like a PR person; I'm not sure if the band Postmodern Jukebox has been covered in a chat before, but I just found out about these guys last month and have been completely obsessed with their "old timey" covers of pop songs. I fall into a YouTube rabbit hole every time I look them up so thought I would share here. Summer is here so how about Call Me Maybe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5meWI3iX1sE&index=25&list=PL7A4D9C100657150E

We haven't, to my knowledge, ever talked about these guys before. Thanks -- can't wait to look at them.

I think it's a matter of degrees. I still get outraged at the idea that employers could try to force an interviewee to hand over their FB password and troll through the stuff that isn't up for public viewing. I probably always will. But someone who posts naked pictures and attempts to get his, um, "message" disseminated as widely as possible is exactly the reason employers get so worried about this stuff in the first place.

Right, there are boundaries. If you can have a colorful personal life that your workplace doesn't know about, go ahead and have that colorful personal life. But when it becomes your public persona, there are issues.

I second the poster who was terrified by the pregnancy forums...The bump is not much better -- there is a lot of pride in being "Snarky" -- I have lurked around several of them but haven't found a good fit. The internet overall is pretty terrifying for pregnant people and I have found it's better for overall equanimity to just stay away from the baby boards and chat rooms that are really just there to collect your data so they can market diapers and expensive furniture to you at the opportune moment anyway.

The world in general seems pretty terrifying for pregnant people, what with new studies coming out every day telling you that chocolate/coffee/cheese/all food is going to harm your baby. Good lord, it's a wonder we still reproduce.

This is really a question for Gene Weingarten, so maybe you could ask him for us. Gene Weingarten has been pushing for smothering screamers, which is placing a space before an exclamation mark at the end of the sentence. He started a Twitter campaign about smothering screamers. I then noted that all those postings, his and others, had been deleted by Twitter. Did Twitter believe the Washington Post was advocating smothering people screaming for their lives?

Are there any other Washington Post employees whose desks you would like me to meander past to ask them random questions?

Perhaps you could post your favorite, ahem, cupcake recipe, so we could all bake our own prizes!

I think you are literally asking for a cupcake recipe. But the "ahem" has me very concerned that this is a dirty joke I'm not getting and will be fired for posting.


is coming to DC on June 10th to the Hamilton but I was too late to buy tickets. BOOOOOOOOOOO


It seemed like he tried hard to get fired so he could then complain about getting fired. Next - the book deal!

And to think, you used to have to get a book deal the old-fashioned way, through creating a popular blog or Twitter account.

I know you're not a sports fan, but bear with me. Rick Reilly used to write for Sports Illustrated magazine. In 2007, he went to work for ESPN and wrote for television. One big difference he noted was that the hate mail he received after a Sports Illustrated article was better written than his original article. The hate mail he got after an ESPN piece was more direct and abusive like "I hope you get nose cancer and die." Sad but true.


I've seen that red herring before, and it seems so superficially reasonable. But it's not the case that if women didn't enter the workplace that wages would have stayed high; you're really overlooking the contributions of technology and globalization in creating a larger and more competitive labor pool. In other words, corps would have pursued their interest in keeping wages low. (P.S - one time I got this "it's because women are in the workplace!" argument, it was in my bookstore days and a customer was complaining that this was the reason her son couldn't find work. I really wished I'd followed my impulse of hand her off to a male clerk)

To clarify, I don't think the OP was saying that women shouldn't be in the workplace. But thanks for writing in with other things to think about.

I meant cupcake literally, and only added the "ahem" since it's your nickname.

Cool, just making sure.

Tell you what -- I'm going to the movies on Sunday at Gallery Place, and if any of you are there I'll buy you some Junior Mints. (Seriously -- what kind of terrible prize is this? You have to drive to the movie theater and pay for a ticket before you get it? Pathetic).

THis reminds me, I was just saying how much I hate when my favorite bloggers get book deals, because the second the book comes out they stop posting.

True. But I don't blame them. It's exhausting to write a book. You can't use up all your good material beforehand.

uhm, yes ! Could you (hey, I just posted a screamer ! another one ! FULL STOP) meander by Hank's desk and ask him why his chat didnt' work on Chrome, but came up fine in MSIE?

Hank will have absolutely no idea why this might have happened, but I'll ask him anyway.

If I may be permitted to comment on last week's discussion on relationships: A key is communication. That sounds simple, yet you would be surprised how many couples are unable to communicate. Even among people with whom we are close, many are either too embarassed or ashamed to admit what they like. Couples should discuss their desires and willingness to agree to what they are willing to do and openly discuss what they wish not to do. Why I mention this is mis-communication is often the reason not only why relationships fail but why people get improper messages. To unfairly generalize, as everyone is different, yet to keep this shorter I shall generalize, most women want to be treated respectfully in early dating. Later on, they may wish something more personal in a relationship. The problem is, and again I must generalize, many "nice guys" find themselves rejected as they do not pick up the cues that female may wish a less than "nicer" relationship (No, I am not suggesting one should even disrespect another. Yet many people want things that would not be appropriate earlier in a relationship, i.e. talking a certain way, rough handling, etc., which is fine when consensual and mutal.) Most "nice guys" later learn from experience and improve their relationship skills. Yet, there are lots of "nice guys" who hear from other guys that women wish to be treated with disrespect in their relationships. These "nice gjys" often mis-understand and become disrespectful to women. They are told "when a woman says "no" she means "yes", and women like assertive men who approach them directly, etc. The result is creepy guys who go up to women attempting to meet them with socially inappropriate responses. I hope this helps. Obviously, this both runs too long yet cut too many corners. The key is: Communicate. Most relationships break up because of failure to communicate. Also communicate to others what is appropriate and not, and when.

I have a lot of disagreements with, and Thoughts about, this post. And since it's almost 3:30, there's not time to wade into them. Mostly I'm posting it now in case others want to mull it over. And also because it's so long, and you obviously put work into it, especially when I said I was desperate for topics, and for that I'm really grateful.

1½ cups flour 1 cup sugar ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 1 cup water ⅓ cup vegetable oil 1 Tablespoon white vinegar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract Mix together and sift dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add liquids, beat till just combined. Pour into pan(s). Bake 350°F until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center of cupcake. Cool on wire rack.

Oh, also this Nutella mug cake is pretty good and you make it in a microwave in one minute and with no cleanup.

"I hope you get nose cancer and die" would probably just make me laugh. (OK, it would for sure make me laugh.) As hate mail, it's kind of a fail.

It's the "nose" that makes it hilarious.

every dictionary says it's an obsolete term other than rarely in poetry. Seems dubious (pretentious) to try to claim it's actually the plural of eye.

Guys, I just realized we never considered the possibility that the chatter was a time traveler from the 16th century.


I'm really sorry if we offended you, Time Traveling Man.

You're supposed to wash the mug after.

Not if, like me, you just decided to make the recipe in a red party cup.

did you seriously just post where you are going to be on Sunday?!?!

I really don't think any of you are going to axe murder me. It's a trust pact.

I volunteer to be you and build your chat.

Actually, could all of you just volunteer to email me on Wednesday with a message that says "BUILD YOUR CHAT?"


Then we won't have this problem, for real.

See you next week (No, really, I will). GSTQ.

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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