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The Verge’s Ashley Carman and Kaitlyn Tiffany ask the hard, weird, and occasionally dumb questions about how your tiny tech decisions impact your social life. Do you turn read receipts on? Do you share your Netflix passwords with friends? Why'd You Push That Button examines the choices technology forces us to make, through interviews with consumers, developers, friends, and strangers.
How do you break up on Instagram?
The time has come, everyone. Summer is basically here, and Why’d You Push That Button is wrapping season two just in time for us to get our butts to the beach. But before we do, we have an episode for you. It’s about relationships, Facebook statuses, Instagram posts, and breakups. I would say this is our “personal” episode.
We came to talk about whether the Facebook relationship status matters anymore, and we get some answers. Definitely. First we talk to Nayomi Reghay, The Daily Dots’ advice columnist, about whether caring about being official on Facebook or Instagram is dumb. She also gives us advice, which I appreciated. Then we talk to one of Kaitlyn’s sister’s friends, Megan, who brings us back down to Earth and explains what the youth think of relationship statuses.
Finally, we chat with Bobby Finger and Lindsey Weber of the podcast Who? Weekly about how celebrities handle becoming official with a new boo. With press releases, magazine covers, paparazzi photos, Instagram, Facebook, and the Notes app at their disposal, how do they announce a new relationship? More crucially, how do they break up?
|May 15, 2018|
Have you turned off push notifications?
I’m deeming this year the year of the push notification solely because of the disaster that was Hawaii’s accidental ballistic missile alert. On this week’s Why’d You Push That Button, Kaitlyn Tiffany and I look into why people turn push notifications on, especially for news. Are they masochists? I don’t hate push notifications, so much as I wish they were more targeted and accurate. Kaitlyn resolutely hates them, and that’s fine. This episode packs a lot of content and interviews into 40 minutes, so settle in with enough water and snacks to make it through.
We first talk to two women and friends who were in Hawaii when that terrible push was sent — Emily and Meghan. Then we talk to New York Times writer John Herrman about his feelings on pushes, as well as his essay on red dots. Once we get all our thoughts out we take it to two experts: Eric Bishop, who also works at The New York Times and strategizes its push strategy, and Christopher Dean, CEO of the company Swrve, which specializes in push notification technology. He explains how push technology might get a lot more sophisticated in the near future.
|May 08, 2018|
Why did you unfollow me?
I’m calling this week’s episode of Why’d You Push That Button the “politics of unfollowing” episode. What makes someone click that unfollow button, and why does it hurt our feelings when they do?
Kaitlyn and I talk to two of our Verge colleagues: Managing Editor T.C. Sottek and Senior Features Editor Michael Zelenko about why they unfollow people. T.C. only follows four people on Twitter! None of whom are Kaitlyn or me. It’s fine, T.C., really. Michael, on the other hand, used to care about his follower versus following ratio and has now reached a point of zen. Who cares!
After all that, Kaitlyn and I take our questions to Jenn Herman, who calls herself “the world’s forefront Instagram blogger.” Jenn is fantastic and made us feel good. Thanks, Jenn!
|May 01, 2018|
How do you save your Tinder date's phone number?
On this special throwback episode of Why’d You Push That Button, Kaitlyn and Ashley revisit an old, one-off podcast episode from Verge Extras about saving phone numbers of people they meet online. They call one of Ashley’s exes to learn how he’s been doing since they dated. They and The Verge’s Lizzie Plaugic then evaluate all the options for saving a phone number and whether it’s weird to ask for someone’s last name.
|Apr 24, 2018|
Why is it so hard to build a successful music social network?
This week, Kaitlyn talks to Wirecutter reporter Jordan McMahon on his use of the Spotify friend activity feed and Ashley gets Verge reporter Micah Singleton's take.
Then they sit down with Charlie Kaplan CEO of Cymbal, a social media app for music to understand what is missing in social media for music.
|Apr 17, 2018|
Why do you leave restaurant reviews?
For this week’s episode of Why’d You Push That Button, we look into restaurant reviews and why people leave them. We talk to a Yelp Elite member, Dominek, as well as a restaurant-owner named Benham about how Yelp affects their lives. Then we take our questions to Brian Boshes, product manager of contributions & community, who explains why he thinks people leave reviews and whether they’re tearing apart the fabric of our society.
|Apr 10, 2018|
Why do you have a finstagram?
Fake Instagrams are one of the last refuges of the authentic online self
Kaitlyn talks to her little sister about her finstagram, Ashley talks to model Paris Sanders about her finstagram, and expert Taylor Lorenz at The Daily Beast weighs in on why this is a reaction to traditional social media.
|Apr 03, 2018|
Why did you ignore my Facebook event invite?
I know you only have a Facebook account for event invites, and I get it. This week on Why’d You Push That Button, Kaitlyn and Ashley explore ignored Facebook events. More specifically, they talk about the check mark and “seen” that Facebook puts under any guest’s name who has opened an invite but not responded. Why do people hate to RSVP? Why do we get hurt when they ignore us? Why are we all so rude? What can Facebook do to fix this problem?
We’ve got answers. Ashley talked to a woman named Carrie who tells us about a time she tried to host a bachelorette party, only to have her guests ignore her invite completely. Then Kaitlyn talks to one of my high school friends, Jon, about his notorious reputation for ignoring events. Finally, they chat with Aditya Koolwal, a senior product manager at Facebook, who explains why the “seen” exists. Apparently it’s not just to punish us.
|Mar 27, 2018|
Do you take selfies in public?
Do you take selfies? Do you take them in public? Do you watch other people take selfies in public and judge them harshly, as if it is any of your business?
Or, uh, why does anyone have an opinion on the selfie behaviors of others? I don’t take them; Ashley does. Who cares?
This is our question on Why’d You Push That Button this week — with a long detour to defend Kim Kardashian, the tryingest social media pioneer and performance artist of our time — and we’re going to get to the bottom of it. We spoke to Alicia Eler, author of the brand-new book The Selfie Generation, and she broke down the subtle misogyny of maligning young women for making their own records of their lives. We discussed the Super Bowl “selfie kid” and those very annoying sports announcers from 2015.
Then we chatted with Racked executive editor Julia Rubin, who does not allow anyone to take photos of her at any time — never mind taking them of herself. Selfies are embarrassing, she says! As a fashion editor, Julia has had other jobs that required her to maintain a meticulous and glamorous Instagram, and that’s just not the life she wants to live anymore.
Finally, we spoke to Dr. Sarah Diefenbach, a professor of market and consumer psychology at the University of Munich. Earlier this year, she co-published a paper called “The Selfie Paradox: Nobody Seems to Like Them Yet Everyone Has Reasons to Take Them.” There’s a lot of gold in there, but we were fascinated by her finding that people who take selfies are likely to justify it to themselves as a “situational” decision — e.g. “I’m at the opening of Jake Gyllenhaal’s first Broadway musical, I need a photo of me having this incredible experience, even though I don’t normally take selfies,” or “I’m having a special, unique drunk night with a dear friend and I look good and I need to document it just this once.” When they see other people take selfies, they assume the reason behind it is that the person is a selfie-taker, by nature. This is called the fundamental attribution error, and I vaguely recall learning about it in one of the many “communication” classes I slept or read Jezebel through in college.
|Mar 20, 2018|
Does tech encourage ghosting? (live at SXSW 2018)
Ashley: The Why’d You Push That Button team has landed in Austin. We made it. Our producer Andru and I ate chocolate chip cookies on the plane, and Kaitlyn ate pretzels. Suspicious. We’re here because we’re doing the show live, in Austin, at SXSW. Andru won’t be able to edit anything out, so if you’ve ever wondered what Kaitlyn and I sound like in the studio with no one to rein us in, you should probably come check out this episode.
We’ll be trying to figure out why people ghost their dates and whether technology is to blame for this phenomenon. Kaitlyn and I will probably fight about it. We’ll also probably tell some embarrassing stories and maybe you’ll lose a little respect for us. Or you’ll see us as more human.
Kaitlyn: And as usual, there’ll be some high-stakes drama followed by a descent into misery that may or may not be reversed by the end of the hour. We’ll be joined by OkCupid engineering manager Jordan Guggenheim, who’s going to answer all our questions about how dating app designers think about human behavior. Can they con us into treating each other kindly? Should they throw up their hands and let us break each other’s hearts? Dr. Jess Carbino, the in-house sociologist at Bumble, will weigh in from the human nature side of things, and I sure hope it gets messy.
|Mar 12, 2018|
Who owns a meme?
Welcome back to Why’d You Push That Button! Season 2 starts today, which might be a fun little surprise for you because honestly, we haven’t done a great job of remembering to talk about it on Twitter!
Our first episode is about memes and the law, which sounds both boring and scary and is neither. First, we chatted with Vox Media’s Sara Reinis, who told us an unsettling story about her first viral tweet. In short: Her life was turned a little upside down because she made a meme using a photo of some birds, and did not realize the birds were someone’s family. Fair enough, Sara, but maybe all of our listeners will learn from your mistakes!
Then we talked to Drew Scanlon, best known as the “white guy blinking meme.” He told us all about how his life has changed since his eyelids became the most famous ones on the whole internet. Honestly, it doesn’t sound that bad! But I would probably have less patience with my friends and acquaintances than Drew does. He says it doesn’t even bother him when they introduce him to people as “the blinking guy.”
Finally, we talked to Tim Hwang about all the legal issues buzzing around these stories. He’s a lawyer, as well as the founder of the meme convention ROFLCon, and the director of Harvard and MIT’s Ethics and Governance of AI initiative.
|Mar 06, 2018|
Season 2 and SXSW special announcement
Why’d You Push That Button is back! Season 2 starts on March 6th, and we’re kicking off the week with an additional episode LIVE at SXSW 2018 in Austin, Texas, on March 10th featuring special guests. Come visit us!
|Feb 21, 2018|
Holiday Spectacular 2017
We've done it, fam. We've finished season one of the podcast. Because it's also the season of giving, and because we love you all, today's episode is dedicated to you. In today's Holiday Spectacular — I told you it was coming — Kaitlyn and I listen to the audio clips you've sent us over the past few months. We also sit by the fireplace here in our podcast studio to look back at the season. We've learned so much, mainly how tech companies manipulate our minds :)
Anyway, I know we're going to be gone for a while, but feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're going to be planning the second season, so if you have some ideas, let us know. Now's also a great time to catch up on episodes you might have missed.
See you next year!
|Dec 23, 2017|
Why do you share your location?
We only have a week left in season one of Why'd You Push That Button?. So savor this episode. Really, soak it up. It's all you'll have to get through winter, other than our Holiday Spectacular episode next week.
This week, we're asking why you share your location. Do you share with your boyfriend? Does your mom make you do it? Maybe you've gotten lost in a park because your friend didn't know how to drop a pin and you wished they'd share their location. We get it. Our guests include a woman named Michelle Suconick who shares her location with her besties and her boyfriend; a mom who's also named Michelle and her son Alec; and Brian Feldman, an associate editor at Select All, who doesn't use location sharing for anything other than to lurk.
We then take all our good feelings over to Russell Brandom, a senior reporter at The Verge, who crushes our happy talk with the reality of a looming surveillance state.
|Dec 19, 2017|
Why do you hold on to text threads?
This week on Why’d You Push That Button, we’ve been hypnotized by the romance of New York in December and we’re acting accordingly! Twinkle lights, snow banks, and love letters. I recommend listening with a cup of hot chocolate or a bucket of that popcorn that has the little paper dividers between the three flavors. Get cozy; hold hands.
The big question: how do you decide to delete or save text threads from friends, family, or significant others? If you have 3GB of texts from an ex, you’re never actually going to scroll back to the beginning, so why can it feel so hard to let go? If you have absolutely no old texts on your phone, what is wrong with you, just wondering?
This episode was inspired by Maureen O’Connor’s 2013 New York Magazine essay “All My Exes Live in Texts,” which I am obsessed with, and in which she argues that we can’t let go of old relationships' digital artifacts because they represent “a dozen soap operas playing at the same time on a dozen different screens, and you are the star of them all.” Wow! A little cynical, but at least 100 percent true if you’re being honest with yourself.
To get some alternative angles on this topic, we spoke to freelance writer and former Racked shopping and style editor Nicola Fumo, who has a complicated system for saving and curating the messages she cares about. (Her system was inspired by the one, the only Kim Kardashian West.) Then we called up my college boyfriend Sean, and the two of us had a weird little moment that was ultimately fine. He also explained how deleting texts makes for stilted friendships and missed plans.
Finally, we took all of our questions to Michelle Janning, a professor of sociology at Whitman College who’s dedicated her career to studying the differences between digital and physical communication, with a particular focus on how we decide what to save, how to save it, and when to look back at it. Her book, Love Letters: Saving Romance in the Digital Age, will be out sometime in 2018. She had so much wisdom to share and we couldn’t believe she was real.
(sent via text by Kaitlyn Tiffany)
|Dec 12, 2017|
How do you send nudes?
This week on Why'd You Push That Button?, we're talking about sending nudes. Sending a naked photo of yourself in 2017 doesn't need to be complicated, but with hundreds of thousands of messaging apps to choose from, deciding how to send that nude can require some thought. Do you take to Snapchat, iMessage, or Instagram DMs? What about sending them through your dating app?
We talked to two people about how they make sense of this messaging app utopia. An anonymous man named Frank primarily uses gay dating apps like Grindr and Scruff to send his nudes because they feature built-in camera functions, while our other interviewee, Eden Rohatensky, chooses their platform based off the recipient of the message. Someone new might get a nude through Snapchat, whereas their friends might receive them in iMessage. Eden also tells us how they send nudes platonically with friends in an effort to build body positivity, which is fantastic. They wrote a Medium post about this exact thing earlier this year.
We then take all our messaging thoughts to Eric Silverberg, CEO and co-founder of gay dating app Scruff. He explains why he built a camera function into the app and how he thinks the feature will eventually trickle down into straight apps. Scruff tells us that more than a million photos and videos are sent over chat daily.
|Dec 05, 2017|
Why do you rewatch your own Instagram stories?
Why'd You Push That Button? is back. We took a break last week to feast on Thanksgiving side dishes, and now we've returned to break down why we enjoy our own Instagram content. More specifically, we want to know why people rewatch their own Instagram stories and obsessively check who's viewed them. This isn't the same behavior as revisiting your grid, although that can be compulsive too.
We talk to our friend and true influencer Claire Carusillo about her foray into Instagram stories and how she's focused on the platform after ending her beauty newsletter. We also chat with The Verge's senior transportation reporter Andy Hawkins about how he uses Instagram stories to record his kids and create the 2017 version of home videos. Then, finally, we take all our questions to Nir Eyal, the author of the book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, who explains how Instagram trapped us into this viewing cycle.
|Nov 28, 2017|
Why do you stalk people on Venmo?
This week on Why’d You Push That Button, we’re getting into one of the real soap operas of modern life: Venmo’s public activity feed. Some people never look at it, some people scroll through it during their daily commute, inexplicably curious about what their friends are exchanging money for.
The payment app launched in 2009 and is now popular enough to work as a verb: “I’ll Venmo you,” meaning “I’ll hit you back right now and accompany the payment with some emoji or a dumb inside joke.” Yet, somehow, despite its popularity, and despite numerous trend pieces pointing out the potential for purchase history sleuthing, users still make their transactions public, allowing other users to mine them for drama. Why do we do this to ourselves, (if you even do it) and what secrets can we uncover? Will there ever come a day when a Venmo transaction description is as carefully considered as an Instagram caption? Will you ever hear the end of it, RE: that mysterious 2AM Uber charge? As you may have guessed, it’s about to get pretty messy!
First we talked to Olivia de Recat, a cartoonist who “decoded” some common Venmo charges in the New Yorker earlier this fall, and uses the app’s public feed to imagine what ex-love interests might be up to. It’s a crucial resource, she says, when an ex isn’t active on other social media — a winking emoji and a beer mug say a lot more than silence, even if they don’t say much. Then we called up Ashley’s college friend Michelle, who had a slightly less whimsical story about some deeply unpleasant information she managed to dig up via Venmo. You might want to cover your eyes, mouth, and ears while she is telling it. Finally, we took all of our anecdotes and questions to Venmo product lead Melanie Aliperti, to hear a little bit more about why a payments app has a social feed at all, whether this payment app is in fact a social media app, and how anecdotes about Venmo-enabled drama might affect design decisions in the future.
Listen to the full podcast and check out the transcription of Melanie’s interview on theverge.com
|Nov 14, 2017|
Why do you share streaming service passwords?
This week on Why’d You Push That Button, we’re talking about a series of buttons. Specifically, the buttons on your keyboard that you have to use to type out the password to your Netflix, Hulu, or HBOGo account and send them to another person.
Do you do that? Do you ever regret it? Do you have to boot ex-boyfriends who keep watching half of the new episode of Game of Thrones before you can get to it, spoiling the latest dragon spectacle? Has your password gotten away from you, whispered down the telephone line until it was in the hands of complete strangers? Are you a password giver or taker, and what does that say about you? Does... anyone actually pay for Netflix?
First we talked to Ashley’s friend from college, MarketWatch personal finance reporter Kari Paul, who trusted her password to a romantic partner and learned a hard lesson about trusting boys with any sort of secret. Then we heard from our friend and collaborator, The Verge’s audio engineer Andrew Marino, who has a pretty unique system set up so that he can share passwords in a relationship and avoid most of the unfortunate consequences. Finally we took our questions to an expert: Amber Steel, the product marketing manager for the password management app LastPass. She tried and failed to convince me that I need to download LastPass, but she also gave us some valuable insight into how streaming service passwords have become a fraught and fascinating issue for her company.
Listen to the full podcast and check out the transcription of Amber’s interview on TheVerge.com
|Nov 07, 2017|
Why do you like celebrity photos on Instagram?
We aren't stopping here at Why'd You Push That Button? HQ, aka The Verge's offices. We've still got more episodes, and this week, we're asking: Why do you like celebrity photos on Instagram?
This question might sound familiar if you're a Verge reader. Ashley asked it months ago in this iconic post: Why did my boyfriend like Emily Ratajkowski's butt on Instagram? We now have the definitive, audio version of the article. We're going to get through it together as a family.
For this episode, Kaitlyn and Ashley talk to Ashley's boyfriend Chris and get a final answer about his butt-liking. They also talk to a certified Instagram influencer named Lisa Ramos, our dear friend and Verge collaborator Lizzie Plaugic, and our Editorial Director at The Verge, Helen Havlak. By the end of this episode, you should understand why you double tapped that photo of Kim Kardashian and why you keep seeing content tangentially related to Kim. You should also have a clearer understanding of what a like means, in a philosophical sense, and how to feel about your boyfriend liking a model's butt. We grappled with these questions so you don't have to.
We also have an email now: email@example.com. Email us your ideas, your critiques, your thoughts, and, if you're feeling bold, an audio recording of a button pushing that went wrong. We're hoping to do a Thanksgiving special in which we play back your audio files and read emails. Really, we just want to have a good time.
|Oct 31, 2017|
Why do you turn on read receipts?
Here it is! The second episode of a new Verge podcast called Why’d You Push That Button.
Last week, we started things off with Tinder’s Super Like feature. This week, we’re talking about read receipts — the timestamp that’s optional in iMessage and mandatory in Facebook Messenger, that lets anyone who’s trying to correspond with you know exactly when you saw their words and chose not to respond.
Why do you leave them on? Why do you turn them off? Why must you insist on subtly manipulating every person in your life? We heard from our friends who have made these choices, and then we took their responses to Lujayn Alhddad who studied human-computer interaction while obtaining her master's degree at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She wrote a paper on this exact topic, and she knows what’s up.
You can read the transcription of the interview here.
|Oct 24, 2017|
Why do you Super Like people on Tinder?
Our podcast has arrived. You made it. Thank you. In Why'd You Push That Button, Kaitlyn Tiffany and Ashley Carman, ask the questions you're probably already talking about with your friends. We analyze the small, seemingly insignificant decisions we make every day with technology, and how they impact our social lives. This week, we investigate Super Likes on Tinder and SuperSwipes on Bumble. Why do people use them?
We talk to a man named Matt who I describe as a "reformed Super Liker," and a woman named Rachel, who has been on the receiving end of Super Likes. She's doesn't love them. We also talk to Nick Saretzky, director of product at OkCupid, about the platform's decision to forego Super Likes. Match Group owns both OkCupid and Tinder, so the topic has come up at product meetings, and Nick has thoughts.
Although it probably wasn't his intention, Nick explains why we're all doomed to die alone (just kidding, kind of), why women should send the first message, and why you continue to see the same 10 people you've already rejected on every app. Apparently dating apps recycle matches, so that's a bummer. Listen to the full podcast and check out the transcription of Nick's interview here.
|Oct 17, 2017|
Introducing Why'd You Push That Button
Why’d You Push That Button? is a podcast about the choices technology forces us to make, featuring interviews with consumers, developers, friends, and strangers. Hosted by The Verge’s Ashley Carman and Kaitlyn Tiffany, Why’d You Push That Button? asks the hard, weird, occasionally dumb questions about how your tiny tech decisions impact your social life.
First episode October 17th!
|Oct 11, 2017|