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July 10, 2019
Is auto-replying ruining email?
Do you use Gmail's "smart reply" feature when answering e-mails? Ashley Carman and Kaitlyn Tiffany explore the world of the automated email responses and how it makes us feel as both the sender and the recipient.
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33 min
June 26, 2019
Death Online: When celebrities die
In the third and final episode of the Death Online series, Ashley Carman and Kaitlyn Tiffany analyze why people flock to Twitter after a celebrity dies. Guests include a reporter who is all too familiar with the phenomenon, a writer who fears the day his favorite celebrity passes, a musician we force to think about her own death, and a sociologist who contextualizes "celebrity death Twitter" in the broader history of public mourning.
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39 min
June 19, 2019
Death Online: Mourning a robot
What happens when your robot friend dies? Ashley Carman explores the grieving community surrounding the short-lived social robot Jibo.
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39 min
June 12, 2019
Death Online: Planning your digital afterlife
What’s going to happen to all of your tweets, Instagram photos, and emails when you die? To kick off a special three-part miniseries about Death Online, Ashley and Kaitlyn are in search of the perfect digital afterlife — and the skills they’ll need to clean up after themselves from beyond the grave. In this episode, they talk to an estate planner, a Tumblr star, an advice columnist, and a Why’d You Push That Button? listener who has no interest in being a Facebook ghost. Long story short: if you want to RIP, you have to plan ahead.
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37 min
June 5, 2019
Does deleting Instagram make you happier?
People are becoming more conscious of their phone and app usage to a point that tech companies, including Google and Apple, are building software to deter them from scrolling through apps like Instagram and Twitter. On this episode, Kaitlyn deactivates her Instagram account to try and feel happier. Does it actually work? She and Ashley talk to users who have taken breaks from Instagram, a professor who studied social media abstinence, and Google to learn more.
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47 min
May 29, 2019
Why are you anonymous online?
Anonymous accounts can be essential for creatives on the internet and also a tool for others to detach themselves from their work. This week, The Verge’s Ashley Carman and Vox’s Kaitlyn Tiffany talk to users who feel the need to keep their personal life out of their Instagram accounts; a reporter who was the victim of an anonymous Twitter parody account; and a media researcher who studies the reasons people want to be anonymous.
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39 min
May 22, 2019
Why do you promote your tweets?
Promoting a tweet has been a tool for brands, influencers, and entrepreneurs to spread their message, but why do regular users promote their tweets? Ashley Carman of The Verge and Kaitlyn Tiffany of The Goods by Vox talk to Twitter users, an engagement editor, and an expert on personal branding to find answers. Kaitlyn also sacrifices her vanity and promotes her own tweet.
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33 min
May 15, 2019
Why do iPhone users judge people with green text bubbles?
Do you scoff at people who appear in iMessage as a green bubble? Or are you the person with the green bubble that has been unaware of your friends secretly judging you? In the season premiere, Ashley Carman of The Verge and Kaitlyn Tiffany of The Goods by Vox talk to experts and users about how Apple's design and color choice in iMessage can cause rifts in relationships.
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35 min
May 13, 2019
We’re back this week!
A new season of Why’d You Push That Button? is coming May 15th! Ashley Carman of The Verge and Kaitlyn Tiffany of The Goods by Vox will explore more of the tiny decisions that technology forces us to make, like why iPhone users judge people with green bubbles in iMessage; why people use anonymous online accounts; and why anyone would promote a tweet. Also, in a special three-part series, Ashley and Kaitlyn will explore the choices we have to make when it comes to death and the internet.Subscribe to get new episodes every Wednesday!
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1 min
February 6, 2019
Should we be kind to our smart assistants?
Hosts Ashley Carman and Kaitlyn Tiffany travel to Las Vegas for CES 2019 and chat about what it means to have smart speakers in our homes and as part of our families. Do we need to be kind to them? Director of Product Management for the Google Assistant Lillian Rincon and Editor of Voicebot.ai Bret Kinsella join Ashley and Kaitlyn to give their expert takes.
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21 min
January 9, 2019
Why do you use an exclusive dating app?
It’s the season finale of Why’d You Push That Button, and this week, hosts Ashley Carman and Kaitlyn Tiffany discuss exclusive dating apps. Unlike Tinder, Facebook Dating, Hinge, or most other dating apps, these exclusive versions require users to apply and then only approve a select group. The most popular exclusive dating apps include Raya and The League. For this episode, Ashley and Kaitlyn want to know why people spend time applying to these services, and why these apps were created.To find out, Ashley talks to her internet pal Lina about her experiences on Raya. Then Kaitlyn talks to her friend Paul about his Raya rejection and eventual success on The League. Finally, the two of them come back together to interview The League’s founder and CEO Amanda Bradford about why she made the app and why she thinks it’s essential.
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45 min
January 2, 2019
Why do you ask questions anonymously?
My Instagram followers want to know whether I like veggie chips and how many push-ups I can do in a row. The answer is no and one. On this week’s Why’d You Push That Button, Vox.com’s Kaitlyn Tiffany and I (Ashley Carman) discuss anonymous question-and-answer apps — why do people use them, both to ask and receive questions?First, I chat with my pal Vanessa about how they use Instagram’s question and answer feature to build community. Then, Kaitlyn chats with a minor Tumblr celebrity, Klaudia, about how she handles questions she’s asked and how she guides the youth of today through their lives. And finally, I interview Janis Grivins, the COO of Ask.fm, about why people ask anonymous questions and what purpose a masked identity can serve.
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35 min
December 26, 2018
Why do you post on fake holidays?
The Verge’s Why’d You Push That Button squad is in the holiday spirit, so in this week’s episode, hosts Ashley Carman and Kaitlyn Tiffany discuss hashtag holidays. You might not know the term, but you definitely know the phenomenon. Maybe you’ve seen people participate in #NationalSiblingsDay, or #WorldNutellaDay, or maybe even #NationalBoyfriendDay. Why do people post, and why do they use those hashtags? Also, who invents these holidays?Kaitlyn and Ashley chat with one of their producers, Bridget Armstrong, and her family to get their take on hashtag holidays and their Facebook posts about them. Then they talk with Lizz Kannenberg, the director of brand strategy at Sprout Social, about brands’ role in these holidays. Copywriters are infusing holidays into our lexicon with no one to stop them!
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32 min
December 19, 2018
Why do you send voice messages?
The people who love voice messages love voice messages. Vox.com’s Kaitlyn Tiffany and The Verge’s Ashley Carman aren’t those people. On this week’s Why’d You Push That Button, they discuss voice messages and why people send them. They also try to figure out why people like them in the first place.Ashley talks to her best friend, Casey, about her habit of sending voice messages, and Kaitlyn interviews The Verge’s very own AI reporter James Vincent and his mom, Bridget, about their family texting dynamics. It’s heartwarming. Then, Ashley and Kaitlyn take all that they’ve learned to Djamel Agaoua, the CEO of messaging app Viber, to learn more about why people use voice messages and how they’ve become more popular around the world. Agaoua posits a few theories on why they’ve bloomed in popularity and previews how voice messages will evolve in the future.
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33 min
December 12, 2018
How do you choose your emoji skin tone?
How do you choose which emoji skin tone to use? This week on Why’d You Push That Button, Vox’s Kaitlyn Tiffany and The Verge's Ashley Carman discuss the five emoji skin tones (not counting the default gold option) and how people decide which color best represents them. The tones debuted in 2015, and now, three years later, people have studied how they’re used and how commonly people opt to change the default option. The choice isn’t as simple as you might think.We also change the show up this week. Instead of relying on just two users, we wanted to hear about as many experiences with the emoji as possible, so we have lots of guests. Thank you to all of them for coming on the show, including Ben, J., Jordan, Joshua, Rosie, Soco, and Malachi. We also received lots of emails when looking for guests, so thank you for writing to us.After we hear from everyone, we chat with two expert guests. The first, whose interview is transcribed below, is Alexander Robertson. He’s a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh who published a study — called “Self-representation on Twitter using emoji skin color modifiers” — about skin tone emoji and their usage across Twitter and around the world. Then we chat with Zara Rahman, a linguist and writer, who published a piece called, “The problem with emoji skin tones that no one talks about.” She walks us through her story and how her interviewees felt about the tones.
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50 min
November 28, 2018
What makes a place Instagram-worthy?
What makes you post a photo to Instagram? What space is truly worthy of a post? Are we willing to destroy nature for a good pic? This week on Why’d You Push That Button, Vox’s Kaitlyn Tiffany and The Verge's Ashley Carman discuss the characteristics that create an Instagram-worthy place.First things first, we talk to former social media manager at The Verge, Zainab Hasnain, about all of the Instagram-oriented pop-ups she’s visited. We also chat with Kristina Alaneisse about parties she hosts at local cool-kid spot China Chalet. Then, as a special treat to wrap up our Instagram mini-series, we have two expert guests. The first is Eliza Brooke, a freelance writer who has incredible design sensibilities. The second is Piera Gelardi, executive creative director and co-founder of Refinery29, about the media company’s 29Rooms exhibition where visitors can play in 29 different rooms and snap some photos while they’re at it.
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56 min
November 21, 2018
What have you bought on Instagram?
It’s nearly Black Friday, and we’re gearing up with a podcast about shopping, of course. This week on Why’d You Push That Button, Vox’s Kaitlyn Tiffany and The Verge's Ashley Carman discuss Instagram shopping: why do we buy stuff? They chat with Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel about all of the horrible gadgets he’s bought, as well as Vox reporter Rebecca Jennings about how the Instagram algorithm learns what we love and then targets us with it. Then they talk to Choosy, an Instagram-made company that uses software to figure out the hottest clothing trends to beat other brands to market. It’s wild, truly. And finally, they take every question we’ve ever had to Layla Amjadi, a product manager for Instagram Shopping, who explains the shopping product to us and how Instagram is building a “personalized mall” for everyone.
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56 min
November 14, 2018
Who is your Instagram boyfriend?
This week on Why’d You Push That Button, Vox.com’s Kaitlyn Tiffany and The Verge's Ashley Carman give the people behind the camera some attention. We’re talking about Instagram boyfriends, or simply, the photographers who take everyone’s Instagram photos. The unsung heroes. We want to know how these people feel and how influencers decide who to ask to take their photo.We chat with Meredith Haggerty about the time she hired an Instagram boyfriend for Fashion Week in New York City a couple years ago. She wrote about the experience for Racked— I highly recommend it. Then Kaitlyn talks to a verified influencer couple, Rachel Hope and Alex Sunshine. Rachel is the face behind The Concrete Blonde, and she and Alex have had to navigate their relationship in both a romantic and business way. We’re now obsessed with them and their mutual support for each other. Finally, we chat with Mae Karwowski, the founder of influencer marketing company Obviously. Karwowski walks us through the world of influencers and how they really get their photos taken. Turns out, they love to date within the creative world.
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37 min
November 7, 2018
Why do you text like that?
This week, Vox’s Kaitlyn Tiffany and The Verge's Ashley Carman ask why we type the way we do. Are we really that cool?First, they chat with Ashley's friend Laura who also types in all lowercase all the time. Then, Kaitlyn interviews The Verge’s copy editor Kara Verlaney about her thoughts on proper punctuation across the internet and all its forms. Finally, they interview linguist Lauren Collister about whether we’re just psychoanalyzing all of our typing habits for no reason, or if there’s real research around this topic. (Spoiler alert: there is!)
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40 min
October 31, 2018
Why did you leave the group chat?
Some of us love our group chats. Others of us hate them and would love nothing more than to leave them all. But why do we want to leave? Maybe you’ve had someone leave a group without giving you a reason as to why, and maybe it hurt a little bit. Vox.com’s Kaitlyn Tiffany and The Verge's Ashley Carman are here to help you work through that pain with this episode of Why’d You Push That Button.First, they chat with Ashley's friend Liz who tells us about her current and past group chat drama. Then Kaitlyn interviews Maggie Lange, who has written for GQ about never leaving group chats, ever.  Kaitlyn and Ashley then take all their concerns to Asha Sharma, director of product management for Messenger, who tells us all about why people actually leave group chats and what the teens are up to these days.
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39 min
October 24, 2018
When is it okay to record someone?
Sometimes you see something happening out in the world, and you feel compelled to record it. You just have to capture it. Is that okay? Legally, are you allowed to record someone without their permission? And what happens if you go viral, then what? It’s murky territory, both legally and as human beings, but we’re going to tackle it on Why’d You Push That Button this week.On this episode, we talk to Porscha Coleman, who recorded an infamous Apple Store Vine, as well as Carlye Wisel, who was once fashion-shamed on Snapchat by a stranger. They have completely opposite beliefs on recording, and we love to facilitate a debate. Then we talk to a couple experts — Jennifer Ellis, a lawyer, and Katherine Cross, a sociologist — who help us figure out when we can record and why we feel like we have to capture other people.
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55 min
October 17, 2018
Why do you delete your tweets?
Why’d You Push That Button is back for season 3, and our first episode is a relatively serious one. Vox’s Kaitlyn Tiffany and I catch up on our summers and then dive into everyone’s favorite social media platform: Twitter. We need to discuss tweets. Are they worth deleting, or should we preserve our limited-character history? Who needs to worry about their tweets? What happens if a potential employer searches your Twitter? What will they find?Kaitlyn and Ashley reflect on their tweet history, and we take it to other users and experts. First, they talk to Max Read, an editor at New York Magazine, and then they chat with Brianna Wu, a woman who ran for Congress this year and was previously a target of Gamergate. Then they talk to Alison Green of the Ask A Manager website / book / podcast universe. (She is Ask A Manager!) And they wrap the show chatting with Mark Graham, director of the Wayback Machine, which attempts to archive the web. It’s true: you could think you deleted a tweet only to discover someone else on the internet has already saved it for you. A truly spooky possibility in the spirit of Halloween.
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52 min
May 15, 2018
How do you break up on Instagram?
The time has come, everyone. Summer is basically here, and Why’d You Push That Buttonis 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?
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43 min
May 8, 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? What makes us turn them off? 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 out all our thoughts, 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 more sophisticated in the near future.
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46 min
May 1, 2018
Why did you unfollow me?
I’m calling this week’s episode of Why’d You Push That Button the “politics of unfollowing.” 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 six people on Twitter! And he only started following me and Kaitlyn after we produced this episode. We appreciate that kind gesture. 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. She points out that followers are a complete construction of tech companies. They made us care about followers. They’ve ruined us. Jenn, though, she gets it. She’s helping us.(sent via text by Ashley Carman)
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39 min
April 24, 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.
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19 min
April 17, 2018
Why is it so hard to build a successful music social network?
We’re chugging along with Why’d You Push That Button. We’ve got a few more episodes left in the season, and today’s is about music social networks. Kaitlyn loves stalking her friends’ Spotify feeds, whereas I keep my account hidden from everyone. I just want to listen to Britney Spears in peace. I can’t have Kaitlyn texting me every time I listen, you know? Spotify used to let people direct message tracks, but it has since removed that feature, which just leaves us with the friend feed. Why isn’t Spotify building out its social features? Does the company hate us?We brought Jordan McMahon, a social music fan, as well as The Verge’s own Micah Singleton onto the show to discuss why they like seeing their friends’ activity. Then we talk to Charlie Kaplan, the CEO of Cymbal, a social music app, about why his company is shutting down and why it’s so hard to make a sticky social music experience.
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43 min
April 10, 2018
Why do you leave restaurant reviews?
Kaitlyn and I love food; take that above photo of us as proof. We’re often conflicted about leaving reviews for restaurants, however. Kaitlyn has never written a Yelp review, whereas I’ve written only one. We worry about reviews as a whole. Should everyone be a reviewer? Are people good? Do they want to intentionally ruin each others’ livelihoods?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 and community, who explains why he thinks people leave reviews and whether they’re tearing apart the fabric of our society.(sent via text by Ashley Carman)
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36 min
April 3, 2018
Why do you have a finstagram?
This week on Why’d You Push That Button, Kaitlyn and Ashley analyze fake Instagrams, aka finstas, to find some truth. We talk to a teen, a model, and a reporter to get answers about why people keep a finsta. I don’t want to spoil anything, but we basically learned that finstas are probably the most authentic social media platform, aside from Venmo.
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33 min
March 27, 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 I explore ignored Facebook events. More specifically, we 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. I 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, we chat with Aditya Koolwal, a senior product manager at Facebook, who explains why the “seen” exists. Apparently it’s not just to punish us.
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30 min
March 20, 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.
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30 min
March 12, 2018
Does tech encourage ghosting?
Kaitlyn and I went to Texas, ate breakfast tacos, each gained five pounds of happy weight, and more or less became certified brands. We had a good time together. We also successfully pulled off our first live episode of Why’d You Push That Button.We tried to figure out why people ghost and ended up learning that humans are lazy and need a manager-type hanging over their heads to keep them accountable at all times. Still, I’d like to think this is just a rough patch in our collective dating experience, so hopefully ghosting will clear itself up after we’re all sufficiently hurt enough to want to stop the cycle.(sent via text by Ashley Carman)
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52 min
March 6, 2018
Who owns a meme?
Our first episode of season 2 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. You can listen and read the transcript below, or find us anywhere else you find podcasts, including on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, and our RSS feed. And get caught up on season 1 if you’re late to the party.
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37 min
December 23, 2017
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 :)
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31 min
December 19, 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.
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31 min
December 12, 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 struggle to 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. (This system was inspired by the one, the onlyKim 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)
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38 min
December 5, 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.
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34 min
November 28, 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 snack on our own Instagram content. More specifically, we want to know why people rewatch their own Instagram stories and obsessively check who's viewed them.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.
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34 min
November 14, 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 why their friends are exchanging money.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 numeroustrend pieces pointing out the potential for purchase-history sleuthing, users still make their transactions public, allowing others 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 stories about Venmo-enabled drama might affect design decisions in the future.
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31 min
November 7, 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 shared her password with 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.
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22 min
October 31, 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. I 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 I talk to my boyfriend Chris to get a final answer about his butt-liking behavior. We also chat with a certified Instagram influencer named Lisa Ramos, our dear friend and Verge collaborator Lizzie Plaugic, and Verge editorial director Helen Havlak. (I've taken to calling her the algorithm whisperer, though, so maybe she should consider that as an alternate title.) 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 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.(sent via text by Ashley Carman)
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27 min
October 24, 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. On this show, my colleague, Circuit Breaker’s Ashley Carman, and me, the Culture section’s most self-indulgent blogger, talk about all the tiny decisions your gadgets and apps force you to make every day. All day, every day, we’re pushing buttons and thinking about the intended or unintended consequences. We’re interviewing consumers — including friends, co-workers, loved ones, and some strangers — and then we’re talking to product designers and experts who built the tech or have studied it professionally.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.
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23 min
October 17, 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, my friend and colleague Kaitlyn Tiffany and I, 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 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 below. Please click play, though.
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29 min
October 11, 2017
Coming soon: 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.
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1 min
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