Why'd You Push That Button?

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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.

2018-03-20 11:20:55 UTC

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