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Full transcript: The Verge’s Casey Newton and Kara Swisher’s son Louie answer teen trend questions on Too Embarrassed to Ask

If you want to know what teens are doing on social media, ask a teen.

Aegon Ilkley Trophy Mark Robinson/Getty Images for LTA

On this episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask, host Kara Swisher invited her son Louie to help answer the questions from readers and listeners. Co-host Lauren Goode’s colleague at The Verge, Casey Newton, joined in, and the four of them discussed popular apps like Snapchat and Instagram as well as less-well-known apps like Houseparty and

You can read some of the highlights from their discussion at that link, or listen to it in the audio player above. Below, we’ve posted a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.

If you like this, be sure to subscribe to Too Embarrassed to Ask on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn or Stitcher.

Kara Swisher: Hi. I’m Kara Swisher, executive editor of Recode.

Lauren Goode: I’m Lauren Goode, senior tech editor at The Verge.

You’re listening to Too Embarrassed to Ask, coming to you from the Vox Media Podcast Network. This is a show where we answer all of your embarrassing questions about consumer tech.

And say things like, “Vox Media Podcast Network.”

Yes, exactly.

But really, you could send us any question. It could be something like, “Do meditation apps really work?”


Or, “What will Apple’s HomePod do that Amazon’s Echo or Google Home don’t already do?”


“What the heck is blockchain?”

No idea.

Kara and I are now experts. We just did a podcast on blockchain ...

And still don’t know.

... which you should listen to. Or, “Which app is better, Instagram or Snapchat?” I guess probably it’s like which one’s copying each other more is really the question.

Exactly. Fair point, fair point. So, send us your questions. We do read them all. Find us on Twitter or tweet them to us to @Recode or to myself or to Lauren with the hashtag TooEmbarrassed.

If you’d rather email us, we have an email address. It is, and a reminder that embarrassed has two r’s and two s’s.

All right. So, anyway ...

So, we’re doing things a little differently today.

We’re doing things differently today. Go ahead, Lauren. Explain the situation for us.

Okay. Well, you’ve probably heard us talk about this person before. We’ve mentioned him many times in passing ...


... on the show. We decided to finally bring him on and get his take on things in technology, but not only things in technology. Mostly I just want to ask him what it’s like to be a product of Kara Swisher.

Well, it is the best thing ever.

I’m wondering what that’s like.

It’s the best thing ever. We are here talking to one of my children, my eldest son, Louie, who we talk about a lot on the show. I always discuss things, using anecdotal things to prove larger points about his use of technology. So, we want to get his take on a bunch of things, a bunch of things that are going on. He has a lot of expertise because he is a teenager.

Yes, we wanted to ask him how teenagers are using apps like Instagram,, Houseparty, and even stuff that we probably have not even heard of.

And also joining us in the studio is a grown man who has some searing insights into the minds of teenagers because he really is a teenager, and that is The Verge’s Casey Newton.

Casey Newton: I also consider myself a product of Kara Swisher in another way.

LG: Aren’t we all?

Casey: It’s delightful to be with you.

KS: That was a very difficult birth if I could recall that particular one. Louie was easy. Anyway ...

LG: Because he was just 6-4 from the moment he was born.

KS: That’s Louie talking in his manlike voice now that he’s a 15-year-old. Hi Louie. Say hi.

Louie Swisher: Hi.

KS: Say hi to the people.

LG: Hi, Louie.

Louie: Hello.

KS: Okay, so Lauren, explain to Louie why we’re talking about this and then bother him.

LG: Louie could probably tell us better than we’re going to tell him, but teens are obsessed with their phones. This is very anecdotal, but there are lots of studies that have been done that back this up. The most recent one I found was from Statista, which compiles a bunch of data from other sources, and this is from earlier in 2017: “93 percent of teenagers between 15 and 17 have mobile access to the internet through a phone or tablet. In North America, teenagers and young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 spend nearly 200 minutes per day on a mobile phone.”

KS: That sounds right.

LG: I mean, that’s a lot of minutes in the day and I’m sure ... I mean, on some level adults are doing that too and we don’t even realize it, but I just think of all the lost productivity that I would ... Anyway. Teenagers are changing the way that people use phones, the way that apps work, and they’re basically reinventing social interactions through their always-connected lives.

KS: All right. Lauren, why don’t you start?

LG: Well, what I want to know to start is, how old were you, Louie, when you first got some type of connected device, whether it was an iPhone, iPod touch or something that just gave you access to the internet all the time?

Louie: Well, my first phone was ... It was a flip phone. I went on a trip to Disneyland with a friend, and my mom gave me a phone because she wanted me to stay in contact. I always used her phone growing up to play mobile games. I don’t really recall. I think I got a iPhone in sixth grade.

KS: You were 10, actually.

Louie: I was 10?

KS: Yeah.

Louie: I don’t remember.

KS: You got it super early compared to ... People yelled at me.

Louie: Really?

KS: At the time, yeah.

Louie: I remember getting it around 10. I might’ve had an iPod, but I remember getting an iPhone at 10 and I really started using apps like Vine and Instagram and such around that age.

KS: So, it was pretty early on. It was pretty early. It was earlier than most people. We did give you the phone early, because people in your class didn’t have one, right?

Louie: No, not necessarily. People in my generation, I guess, have phones starting younger and younger. Like my little brother, he got his first iPhone when he was in fourth grade, I think, which is pretty young.

LG: That’s even younger.

KS: That’s pretty young. That’s very young.

LG: If other friends didn’t have phones at the time then how would you connect with them via apps? Were you just SMSing? How would you get in touch?

Louie: I just had an iPhone at first to play the games, but ...

KS: What games did you play?

Louie: I played the snowboarder game. I played a game where you have to move a red ball through a various selection of maps.

KS: Zombies, the plant zombie thing?

Louie: Yeah, I played Plants vs. Zombies, just the games that were popular.

KS: It was mostly games. It wasn’t communications and stuff like that.

Louie: Yeah, and then around sixth grade I started using, like as I said, Vine and Instagram and talking to friends. I didn’t actually use Snapchat until I was in seventh grade.

KS: Right, exactly.

LG: Wow. Seventh grade.

KS: I’m going to ask Casey. Casey, when did you first get a phone?

Casey: That’s a great question. I’m a little older than Louie. I got my first cellphone relatively late. It was at the end of college. I used to look down on people who had cellphones because I saw them as this tool that just encouraged laziness. Before cellphones, it used to mean something to make plans with someone and follow through. So, I would see all my friends in college using their cellphones to make last-minute plans and I had to abstain from them. Then, of course, I got a phone and immediately forgot that there was ever life without them. The first iPhone I got wasn’t actually until the iPhone 4 in ... I think that was 2010 that it came out.

KS: Right.

Casey: That is still my favorite phone I’ve ever purchased in terms of how much better it was than anything I’d ever used.

KS: Because?

Casey: The camera on that phone was amazing. It’s the best industrial design of any iPhone, I believe. It had those beautiful chamfered metal edges. It looked like jewelry. It was just a really, really beautiful phone and a lot more powerful than anything that had come before.

KS: Louie, you got phones. You basically got my old phones, right? You got them handed down as I got newer ones, pretty much.

Louie: Yeah, yeah.

LG: So, Louie, did you ever have a BlackBerry?

Louie: No, but I used to use my mom’s BlackBerry to play like Brick Breaker.

KS: Things like that. He did do that. Also, as you all recall, I told the story that I actually had a BlackBerry in my hand when Louie was born.

Louie: I don’t remember that, but I believe it.

KS: He was there, but it was actually a little square one, the little tiny messaging one. It went into the operating room when I had him.

Casey: Do you remember the story you were working on when he was born?

KS: No. I was texting Walt Mossberg. I was texting Walt Mossberg “about to have a kid” and then they just rushed me into surgery because it was an emergency C-section. It was in my hands so they had to cover it with plastic and Louie was born. They had to cover it because it was filthy apparently and it was buzzing the whole time. That was your birth, Louie.

Louie: It was a beautiful birth.

KS: Anyway, and the doctor looked at me, shook his head and said, “There’s something really wrong with you, Kara Swisher.” I was like, “Yes.”

Casey: Now he probably hasn’t seen a mom without a phone in the delivery room in like five years.

KS: Exactly. It’s true. So, what was the first app you used? You used the games, correct?

Louie: It was the games, yeah. Like social media, I think it probably was Vine or Instagram.

KS: What did you like about that, why?

Louie: Well, I liked Vine because it was original comedy until it wasn’t. I liked Instagram and ...

KS: What do you mean? Explain that for the people.

Louie: Well, the Vine creators used to make content that was worth seeing and that was original. It wasn’t branded. They didn’t do the same things. Now if you go in their Instagrams, it’s the same plot every time. Somebody’s getting cheated on and they get angry. Then it’s not the same. They used to be very funny. I was really a big fan of that.

I liked Instagram because I could see what people were up to. Then I got introduced to Snapchat and it was a mode of communication.

KS: We’re going to get into Snapchat. Why did you like ... Then you two are going to talk about Snap Maps and the new things, but what did you like about Snapchat initially?

Louie: I liked that I could talk to people and I didn’t have to use so much data texting like texting pictures and stuff. If you wanted to send a picture of something or yourself, you could just quickly do it on Snapchat and it was easy and efficient.

KS: Because you used so much data, we cut him off a lot.

Louie: I did.

LG: What’s the most data have you ever used in a month?

Louie: Well, I was sick once and this was when we moved into our new house in D.C. and we didn’t have Wi-Fi yet. There was not much to do.

KS: Like read a book or something like that.

Louie: I’m not going to do that. I love YouTube so I watched a lot of YouTube and I used all my data in three days.

LG: Oh my gosh.

Casey: That’s pretty amazing.

KS: He did. He used a lot of data, but that was before he was on an in-app purchase and bought thousands of dollars on an in-app purchase on an Apple game once and I ...

Casey: What was the game?

KS: What was it?

Louie: Clash of Clans.

Casey: Oh that’ll do it. That’s an expensive habit.

LG: You get one pass with Apple, I think. You can call Apple ...

Casey: Because Clash of Clans ... I mean, it was built mostly by behavioral psychologists who tried to figure out how to get people to spend the most money possible.

Louie: I didn’t think it was real money also, just to clarify.

KS: Yeah, because it was the first time they had in-app purchases on the game.

Louie: It was the first time I’d ever experienced that. I was like, “Ooh, I wanna do this quicker. Let’s buy some gems.” Before I knew it, I spent a large amount of money.

KS: They had not announced it to him that they could do that. They just introduced it and so they did rescind the charge after I called them and said, “What the hell?”

Casey: Thank goodness.

Louie: I’ll never forget that morning just waking up like, “What did you do?”

Casey: It was like a $40,000 phone.

KS: No, it was $3,000.

Casey: That’s insane.

KS: It was insane.

Casey: There were class-action lawsuits about this.

KS: Yes, I know.

Casey: Apple eventually had to fix this.

KS: They did because it was not ... You didn’t know it. I, thank God, made a good case to get it taken off, but I literally woke him up. I was like, “What did you do?” Later, we’ll tell the Tinder story. Louie’s not using Tinder, but there’s a story about Tinder that I didn’t like and I ran into his room. I was so upset by the way teens use Tinder and he was, I think, 11 or 12. I said, “If you ever use Tinder like this, I’ll kill you. I’ll break your hands.”

LG: Poor Louie.

Casey: Oh wait. We have to save that for later?

KS: Later.

Casey: Okay.

KS: Or let’s just tell it now.

So, Lauren, you have a question about the most popular ones they’re using now, right?

LG: Oh yeah. I’m just curious of all the social apps. What’s the most popular among your friends right now?

Louie: Well, definitely Snapchat and Instagram. Snapchat is like ... It’s the most popular I think, most people use it. Instagram and Facebook are like ... You can tell they’re copying off of them.

KS: You got mad about that, right?

Louie: I mean, I didn’t really care. Nobody uses the Instagram Stories. I mean, people use it, but it’s not the first go-to thing if they want to show something to their friends. Snapchat’s really popular because as I said earlier, it’s an easy and efficient mode to communicate or way to communicate with your friends and people that you want to talk to.

KS: And you also do live stuff, right? It’s like you’re on the phone with them. You have conversations on Snapchat.

Louie: Yeah, you have conversations on Snapchat. Yes.

KS: So, it’s like a phone call.

Louie: You can actually call someone on Snapchat now.

LG: Do people do that? Do you ever call people on the phone?

Louie: No. If I want to talk to people, I text them or FaceTime them. The only people I call are my parents or my grandparent or my grandma.

Casey: I have a question. Is it important to you that the messages disappear on Snapchat? Does that make you ...

Louie: Sometimes, and sometimes not because I don’t really send anything that I need to disappear, but if we’re having a conversation, I go to do something for like five minutes, come back and I forget what I was talking about. It gets frustrating.

Casey: One of the strangest and most interesting phenomena I’ve seen on Snapchat is that you can save a chat in Snapchat by holding it down.

Louie: Yeah, you can.

Casey: Sometimes I’ll talk with people and they will save every line of the conversation and it’s to avoid this exact problem, which is sometimes you open up a Snap like a day after your last interaction and you have no idea what the person you were talking with was saying.

KS: Do you like to save?

Louie: I save things that I find funny.

KS: Like what? What would you save?

Louie: Whenever one of my friends say something that they find funny.

KS: Right. Snapchat really is the way you all communicate, but you don’t want to do Instagram Stories, although they’re growing in popularity.

Louie: They are, but ...

KS: Are people using it?

Louie: It’s an odd setup that you have to ... In Snapchat, they have a whole page I guess in the app dedicated to looking at stories. Instagram is this little top part, that if you want to see somebody you have to swipe through and find them. Snapchat, you can search what you want to find on their story, like find their story.

KS: What would make you use them more?

Louie: I’m just not going to use it, like I would ever use it more.

LG: Okay, right. What if every single one of your friends said, “We’re moving over to Instagram Stories,” would that make a difference?

Louie: I don’t think so because I tend not to ... I mean, I do sometimes, like, as a teenager would go with the crowd, but something like that I’d be like, “No, I’m gonna stay with Snapchat.”

LG: What happens when you’re an adult who’s going with the crowd, it gets like a very clinical term that makes you feel better about yourself called the network effect. We just call it the network effect when you start to follow what everyone else is doing because they’re on that platform. So, we wouldn’t judge you if you did that, but that’s interesting. What about Facebook? Do your friends use it at all? Do you use Messenger at all?

Louie: Well, I have the app downloaded, Facebook Messenger, and I sometimes accidentally open it. But Facebook ...

KS: That’s Mark Zuckerberg business model.

Casey: I know that sometimes I accidentally tap the Marketplace tab and I feel really bad when I send them an email saying, “Do not count me as a daily user on this. It was a mistake.”

KS: So, you don’t use Messenger.

Louie: So, Facebook, we pretty much just use as for ... Because I’m on the lacrosse team and we use it as a group chat because some people have Androids and they’re not fun to have in text group chats because they kind of ruin it, like making every message green and you can’t add or kick out ... You can’t add people. So, we just use it as a mode of communication and it’s still kind of annoying because I just don’t like Facebook.

KS: Why don’t you like it? Is it uncool? Is it just hard to use?

Louie: You don’t really need it. It’s not a necessity. I use Snapchat because I need to talk to people. I use Instagram because I like it because there’s a lot of ... I mean, I follow a lot of meme accounts, and I like looking at that, and I like seeing what my friends are up to. There’s no real point to Facebook unless you’re ...

KS: But is it uncool or is it just stupid to use or what?

Louie: It not stupid. It’s just ...

KS: Because some people think Snapchat’s hard to use, like myself.

Louie: Snapchat’s not hard to use.

KS: I know, but why isn’t it hard to use for you and why is it hard to use for me?

Louie: Because I use it.

KS: Okay.

Casey: I think the real answer, Kara, is that if most of your friends were primarily communicating on Snapchat, you would’ve figured it out. It’s just not important to you. People will have the complaint about Twitter, and for us Twitter’s very important. So, we figured it out. For most people it’s not important so they never figured it out.

KS: That’s a fair point. That’s a fair point. What you guys were playing with the other night at dinner, Snapchat Maps. Explain Snap Maps.

Louie: It’s an odd thing to see where your friends are hanging without you is what I think it is.

KS: Why?

Louie: Well, because they want you to be able to see where your friends are to join in on the party, but if you weren’t invited to the party I don’t know why you would show up.

KS: Why do you think they did it? You don’t want that or ...

Louie: I mean, I don’t care. It’s just like you can see where people are and I think ...

KS: You saw somebody you didn’t want ...

Louie: ... that’s a little bit odd to see where people are. I mean, it’s just why? It’s not a necessity.

Casey: I think it’s really interesting. I don’t think that it ...

KS: You like it.

Casey: I do like it as a feature. I don’t think that it is going to bring Snapchat its next 100 million users, but I will say I can see Instagram having a lot of trouble copying this because I don’t think most of their users would ever want to give away their location on an ongoing basis for a product like that.

Louie: Exactly.

Casey: So, I think it’s smart because I think Instagram will copy it.

KS: You think they will?

Casey: I think they’ll introduce a map that has a heat map that lets you tap in and see all of the snaps from Pride, like we were looking at over the weekend here in San Francisco. So, I think you’ll see a heat map, but I think they’ll have a lot of trouble with that location piece and so I do think that gives Snapchat an opportunity to kind of maintain its differentiation.

KS: Can I say just two more questions about Snapchat? One is, you used to use Discover, but now do you still do that? Use the new? Because you were reading, like you told me something intelligent about the presidential election. I was like, “How did you know that?” And of course, you don’t because I know you don’t read the New York Times and other things, but ...

Louie: Those used to be good, like they had Vox on it, which I liked. They had other news sources. Some were credible, some were a little bit odd.

KS: The Daily Mail, I wasn’t happy about that.

Louie: No, Daily Mail just reports about what Kim Kardashian’s up to.

KS: Right.

Louie: So, like Comedy Central, I look at those if I want to see a little stand-up or something like that. I mostly look at the story. If something breaking is happening then they’ll usually have a story for it, which I really like, which is like a collection of videos for people who are there and then what they record and what they publish. I think that’s even better than ...

KS: The news?

Louie: Because you can see what’s actually happening, not through the eyes of someone else.

KS: So, you don’t like news, which is paying for your schooling and clothing.

Louie: No, no, no. It’s not that. No, I have respect for journalists and what they do, but ...

KS: What do you consume? Where do you consume it?

Louie: I watch a lot of the late-night show hosts ... A late-night show in what they ...

KS: Online? On your phone?

Louie: On YouTube, yeah. I don’t think I’ve ever picked up a newspaper and read it.

KS: I don’t think you have. What about TV news? Nothing else. Just everything’s on ...

Louie: No, no, I don’t watch cable. It’s horrid.

KS: Because?

Louie: Because it’s just CNN rambling on about some small issue and having multiple people argue that. Then Fox News just reporting something that I don’t really care about. I’d just rather see it in person. I like the stories and I feel like that could be a good source of reporting. Journalists are also necessary, but I think this would ...

KS: You’re worried about fake news?

Louie: Some people who fall for that, yeah. It’s not an issue that directly affects me, but it is a problem, I guess.

KS: Interesting.

LG: Do you see your friends falling for fakes news a lot that they’re getting on social apps and stuff?

KS: You can’t do it on Snapchat, can you? You can’t really ...

Louie: Well, I mean, I’ve never heard of a case that somebody in my class or somebody I know falling for fake news. The only one I really know about is that one where the guy went to Comet Pizza looking for Hillary Clinton’s child dungeon or whatever it was. That’s the only real case I’ve ever heard. I don’t know how you really fall for that.

KS: I don’t know. You’d have to be stupid. Let’s move to ...

LG: Oh Louie, I wish you were of voting age.

KS: I know, exactly.

LG: Soon enough ...

KS: He’s going to be ...

Louie: I’m going to vote in the next election.

KS: He’s going to vote in the next election.

LG: That’s right. So, I have a question ...

Casey: Assuming we have elections, but go on.

LG: Right, right, exactly. I want to get to some of the more ... I don’t know. I don’t want to call them lesser known, because among your age group I think they are really well-known, but maybe lesser known to us. I want to get to some of those apps, but first while we’re still on Snapchat. What percentage of the usage would you say is for pretty innocent stuff and how much of it that you observe among you, your peers is nefarious or stuff that you just like maybe wouldn’t want your teachers or parents to see?

Louie: Well, wait. On Snapchat, are you talking about?

LG: Yeah.

Louie: Well, it depends what you consider that. If you consider that inappropriate in like somebody telling an offensive joke or somebody sending a scandalous pic. I haven’t really heard much of the second thing, but there are I guess ...

KS: Dumb jokes.

Louie: Yeah, offensive jokes and stuff like that.

KS: But you guys traded among yourselves.

Louie: Well, I’m not going to admit to anything, but ...

Casey: Smart.

LG: You trained him well, Kara.

KS: Thank you. I know about it already. Evan Spiegel and I are in very close touch now and not in any kind of touch.

Louie: I haven’t really experienced much of the inappropriate manner of Snapchat that ...

KS: Like dirty, but someone in your school got in trouble, right? That there was some ...

Louie: Maybe. I don’t know.

KS: You do know, but actually there’s ... But that was texting, right? Or was it ...

Louie: It might’ve been. I don’t know.

KS: Okay.

Casey: I mean, look, it’s a real phenomenon and I think it’s fun to talk about because it’s hilarious to imagine a teen’s like ... I guess some people got really upset about it. For me, it’s just mostly funny because of course we were all teenagers once. One of the things I like about Snapchat is, it has given all people a way to communicate a little bit more safely. I think the idea that your communications are deleted by default has a broad range of applications, like beyond just sending dirty pics.

KS: It let’s you do dumb things.

Casey: There’re just a lot of conversations that it’s just better that they’re not searchable indefinitely, right?

KS: Right.

Louie: Well, doesn’t Snapchat keep records of all of it?

Casey: After it’s been open, my understanding is that they get rid of it in something like seven days.

Louie: Oh okay.

KS: Or pretty quickly unless you save it.

LG: You can also take a screen grab, which everybody knows.

Louie: Yeah, you can take a screenshot.

LG: You can do that. It’s funny that ... I’m not a parent, but my mind immediately goes to like if I had a teenage son or daughter, I would be so worried that at some point one of their friends would take a photo of them in a vulnerable state and share it. It would just ... I don’t know. People must worry about that.

KS: And you’re constantly worried.

LG: You must worry about that.

KS: Can’t discuss it, but we’re worried about that issue. It’s definitely an issue. I think what it is is that you don’t realize the repercussions. I think Louie and I talk a lot about that, is the repercussions of the Harvard kids, remember what happened there?

Louie: Yeah, but they’re also not very smart.

KS: Why is that?

Louie: Even though they got into Harvard, they sent these things on a public group chat between all the kids who were going to Harvard next year. Somebody was bound to snitch.

KS: Right, exactly. That’s a fair point. You worry that you think that someone’s bound to snitch or you worry ...

Louie: On me? I mean ...

KS: Or just share things because it’s funny.

Louie: That’s happened in the past, but I tend to send things that I find funny that other people might not to people that I know will find it funny, have a sense of humor.

KS: Do you worry about your tone and hurting people’s feelings? I know we had one issue where you had a friend who got upset.

Louie: Yeah. Now, I don’t think about it in the moment, but then later you do and you realize you’re wrong doing that ... And you fix it.

KS: Right, right.

Casey: I just want to say you’re being as hard on Louie as you are on all of your other guests and I respect that so much. You’re not throwing him any softballs at all. You’re getting the full Kara Swisher experience.

KS: Well, we talk about these issues a lot, because I think you have to be aware of what you’re going to get.

Casey: You do, yeah. One of the things you’re getting at is that communication is so much more fraught than it was when we were high school.

LG: Fraught.

KS: Fraught.

Casey: Of course, if you say the wrong thing in high school, that’s always going to come back to haunt you. But now, you’ve got like five different apps on your phone and they all have their own dramas playing out 24 hours a day. You have to either play a role or avoid them like, yikes.

KS: Right. No, it’s true. So, Louie, if you had to pick one social networking app, what would it be? I’m guessing Snapchat.

Louie: I’d pick Instagram.

KS: Why? Oh interesting.

Louie: Because ...

KS: Because you like Kevin Systrom.

Louie: I do like him. He’s a nice man, but ...

KS: He gets to meet these people, which I think is interesting.

Louie: Well, Snapchat, the only real thing I care about is that I can talk to people and you can do that on Instagram by direct messaging or DMing them. I can see what people are up to, without being invasive on the Snap Maps. I can look at funny things like memes and stuff that I find ... Stuff I want to see. All of that is on Instagram. Instagram, I have to say, is my favorite app.

KS: It’s your favorite app because it’s pretty or is it easy?

Louie: I just like it. It has all the things I look for in a social media app, all the things I need.

KS: Right. So, if you had to give up one it would be Snapchat over ... You would say ...

Louie: If I had to give up one, it would probably be Facebook.

KS: Facebook, but Facebook owns Instagram.

Louie: I like Instagram.

KS: Okay, all right. Okay, but not Facebook. That’s interesting. So, what other things do you like?, Houseparty, do you use them?

Louie: Well, and Houseparty both had a short life in young people, I think. is like you can record yourself singing and stuff and do fast motion or do dancing videos. That had a short life. People in my class liked it a lot. Then all of a sudden they didn’t. So, I think it was one of those ...

KS: Peach.

Louie: Yeah, I guess.

Casey: I know for a lot of kids ... I shouldn’t say, “For a lot of kids,” but I’ve heard from a couple of young readers of The Verge who have said that Houseparty’s notifications were insane because you would get one every time someone opened the app.

Louie: I never downloaded the app, but I’d always see like, “Blank is in the house,” or something like that. It’s an odd thing. Also, again, I never used it so I don’t really understand how to do it completely, but from my understanding you join like a FaceTime group with several people and it’s just odd. It’s not ...

KS: It’s odd.

Louie: You can’t talk to them.

Casey: I think it’s brilliant. I’m not for necessarily that everyone should love it or that it’s going to be a big hit, but I do think the idea that young people just kind of want to hang out virtually makes sense.

Louie: It is a good idea, I think so, but it’s ... When I want to FaceTime somebody or just do that, I want to talk to them, not to three other people who can join and leave at will. So, I mean, if you’re into that, sure, but it’s not my cup of tea.

Casey: Right. So, people need your permission to leave a group chat is what I mean.

Louie: They should.

KS: They should, but you use Spotify. That’s the one that’s ....

Louie: I do love ...

KS: We’re going to ask, which ones do you use over and over? Spotify?

Louie: Spotify, Instagram and Snapchat.

KS: And Twitter ever?

Louie: I have a Twitter, but then I couldn’t ...

KS: You don’t use it.

Louie: I had a Twitter briefly. I did one retweet and then I tried to delete my Twitter and I couldn’t figure out how to delete my account. So, I just deleted the app.

Casey: That’s the best Twitter story I’ve ever heard.

KS: Why don’t you use it? I love it.

Louie: I don’t understand it. I mean, I understand it, but it’s good to see what people want to say, but I don’t really want to ...

KS: What about for news discovery?

Louie: I mean, I can ...

KS: So, you don’t read Donald Trump’s tweets?

Louie: No, I don’t. I just hear about them.

KS: Okay. Well, good. We’re so glad to keep you informed. Which ones do you use, Spotify ... list the ones you use: Spotify, Instagram, Snapchat, that’s it. Anything else more you use?

Louie: That’s pretty much it.

KS: YouTube?

Louie: I do, yeah. I love YouTube. YouTube is probably my most-used app. I like a lot of YouTubers. I like the content. Sometimes I get caught up in bad content, not like bad, but just not well-made stuff and watch it. I still watch it because it’s interesting and I like watching videos. So, I like that.

Casey: I think YouTube is underappreciated in a way. I find myself watching so much more YouTube this year than I ever have before.

Louie: That’s same for me.

Casey: I think they’ve figured out ... Their algorithm that figures out what else you might like to see has gotten scarily good. Now every time I open it, there’s six more things I feel like I need to watch.

Louie: Sometimes I’ll just be like, “One more video, one more video,” and then I look and it’s 2:00 in the morning.

KS: I’ve heard that. That happened last night as I recall.

LG: They’ve gotten a lot better in notifications too.

KS: And you use Netflix, right? But you use that on your laptop.

Louie: I use it on my laptop. Sometimes I use it on my phone, but yeah. I like Netflix.

KS: You love Netflix. Go ahead, Lauren. Your question?

LG: Yeah, I was just wondering if using all these apps ever stresses you out or if you ever noticed ... I don’t know if your mom ever says, “Okay, you need to take a break from phone,” or for whatever reason ...

Louie: Yeah.

KS: Every day.

LG: ... maybe it’s been taken away from you for a period of time. Do you feel differently when you are not using as much technology?

Louie: I mean, I just feel less connected to people, because when my phone is taken away, I have to communicate with them in some other manner. Luckily, I can text people from my computer. I have an iPad that I don’t tell my parents where it is so if I need to use it, I can ...

KS: I can find it, Louie. Louie’s problem is both his parents are really technically ... I do this and Megan was the CTO of America and worked for Google. So, it’s kind of a pain for him that he really can’t get one by us, but thank you for hiding your ... You just told me and now ...

Louie: Well, I didn’t tell you where.

KS: I know, but I have “Find my laptop” in case you’re interested.

Louie: It’s not a laptop.

KS: “Find your iPad.” I can find anything. Nobody gets away from me.

Casey: Louie, I want you to come back next week and tell us if Kara found the iPad.

KS: I will find the iPad.

Louie: She won’t, she won’t.

KS: Yes, I will.

LG: We never heard the Tinder story.

KS: We’ll get to the Tinder story in a minute, but first we’re going to get to questions. We have two more questions. So, do you feel stressed by media or do you ...

Louie: What do you mean by that?

KS: You’ve been doing online stuff your whole life. I was not born into it. It certainly stresses me.

Louie: I wasn’t born into it, but I just kind of got raised into it.

KS: But everybody is now. I remember the day when you didn’t ... Remember? One time when he was a kid, we went up to a payphone and he was like, “What’s that?” And it was broken. Remember? It was kind of filthy and gross. Him and his brother were like, “What is that?” I’m going, “You’d stand next to it and you’d call people and you would put money in it.” My youngest son Alex was like, “That’s filthy.”

Louie: Alex the other day ... I said, “Alex, what’s a CD?” He said, “What’s that?”

KS: What’s that, right.

Louie: I mean, I watched a lot of VCRs and stuff growing up. So, I got the end of that. I know what a Walking-Man is.

KS: Walking-Man? It’s a Walkman.

Louie: Walkman.

Casey: Well, Walking Man is the full name. I appreciate you using the formal name.

Louie: I mean, the thing that you put on your side and you jog with, that. I know what that is. We have an Atari at home.

KS: He’s loving it the other day.

Louie: I consider myself pretty well [versed].

KS: In the olden days.

Casey: That’s awesome. That’s like cool vintage tech.

KS: In the butter-churning days. We didn’t actually have cellphones.

Louie: I know that.

KS: I know that you know, you’re aware.

Louie: We had a wall phone.

KS: Wall phone.

Louie: Then we had a cellphone. We had a car phone.

KS: I think one time when you ... Either you or Alex went up to ... We bought a new screen TV and one of you went up to it and started hitting it because it didn’t respond. You’re like, “Why isn’t this responding?” I was like, “Oh yeah, you’re right. Why isn’t it?” It was interesting because you were all touchscreen oriented by that time.

Louie: That was probably Alex.

KS: That’s probably Alex.

Louie: I remember one time you switched the old TV that had the back like the ...

KS: Where?

Louie: Two feet behind it from all the functions. I got so mad. I broke down and started crying because I loved that TV. I thought you were going to get rid of it.

KS: Well, it still is in the garage in case you would like to take it with you for later.

Louie: I remember it always made that really high-pitched noise that you could just barely hear.

Casey: Right.

Louie: It made you so angry.

KS: All right. This is a good question for you, and then we’re going to get to readers. How do older people misuse these apps, in your mind? Like when you see us posting stuff on social media like more food pics. I know you have an issue with Hillary Clinton about Jalen. It seems to obsess you.

Louie: She’s just not good at social media.

KS: Okay. That’s absolutely true, but you didn’t like something she said where Jalen and ...

Louie: Well, she’s done many things that aren’t very good with social media, just trying to connect with younger people. I’m not going to get into politics, but she needs to stay away from social media.

KS: Okay, we’ll tell her. But what do you think older people do that’s not using hashtags too much or just ...

Louie: I mean, I frankly don’t care really as much what other people do. Just after I said the Hillary Clinton, it matters because she was a politician, I guess I can say now and that has public image matter. If it’s just like a mom in a suburban neighborhood doing like hashtag whatever on Facebook, I don’t care.

KS: That’s on Twitter.

Louie: I mean, you should do what you want to do. I don’t see anybody’s misusing social media.

Casey: I have an answer for this. It always makes me happy, so I want people to continue to do this. Older people write about their relatives and their friends without tagging them. They’ll just write, “Joe, thought you should see this,” and then Joe is not tagged, so Joe will never see ... Then they get mad that Joe never responded. I had a friend whose mother just posted on Facebook, “Michael, please call me,” like as a post on her own wall. Michael’s not going to see that. Again, you’re misusing, but please continue to do that. It brings me so much joy.

KS: Do you know who uses the technology best? Your grandmother, Lulu. I think she’s pretty cool, don’t you?

Louie: I mean, she tries to use her nails on a touchscreens.

KS: That’s true.

Louie: The only thing I’ve ever seen her do is just play mobile cards.

KS: She plays, but she uses it.

Casey: It’s something.

Louie: She’s good at it.

KS: Did she iMessage you?

Louie: No, she calls, and then she says, “Why don’t you ever call?” I call and then she doesn’t pick up.

Casey: Some things never change.

KS: Some things never change. All right. We’re going get to questions now. We’re here with my son, Louie Swisher, Louis Benjamin Swisher that is, and my whatever Casey Newton is to me right now. He’s my houseboy.

Louie: She said, “Houseboy.”

KS: We’re going to get some questions about teens and tech from our readers and listeners. Lauren, please ask the first question. I think we kind of answered that, but go ahead.

LG: First question is from Craig Beilinson @cbeilinson. I think he’s from Microsoft. Craig, thank you for writing in. “What’s the story behind Houseparty?” Houseparty ... We did get a couple of questions about this. I think we did answer it.

KS: So, Louie, you think it’s gone?

LG: Any last words on Houseparty, Louie?

Louie: I mean, I never used it, and I’m pretty sure a lot of people didn’t use it. I think it has potential and there’s going to be another app or Houseparty will change itself to be a better service, I guess.

LG: They already did.

Casey: I’ve been reliably informed that at least one of the other major social media companies is planning on releasing their own version of it. I know that Facebook has been actively quizzing a lot of younger users about their usage of Houseparty. They’ve identified ...

KS: Is that a new Mark Zuckerberg trick ... Trip?

Casey: Yeah.

KS: He’s going to visit you, Louie.

LG: That’s really interesting.

Louie: I prefer ooVoo over it because it’s like a group chat for FaceTime-ing.

KS: ooVoo.

Louie: I think if Houseparty had a feature like that ...

KS: What is it? ooVoo?

Casey: Tell us about ooVoo.

Louie: ooVoo.

KS: ooVoo.

Louie: It’s like you can video call multiple people.

Casey: I learned something. I got to check this out.

LG: Okay, hold on. I’m going to sound really old, but isn’t that like Skype?

Louie: Yeah, but Skype is one-on-one. This is one-to-many.

LG: You can have multiple people in a Skype chat, can’t you?

KS: Louie doesn’t use Skype, right?

Louie: No. I don’t use Skype.

KS: Nobody uses Skype.

Casey: They just redesigned it. It has stories now as of yesterday.

Louie: Oh.

Casey: It’s sad and funny at the same time.

KS: He just rushed to download. He’s not using it. Sorry, Microsoft. He’s not using it. All right, next question.

LG: I think the last number that Houseparty gave, they said they had one million monthly active users, but that was a little while ago.

KS: It seems like a trendy thing.

LG: And Facebook is on the tail end that’s going to be quite interesting.

KS: There’s a lot of trendy things that come and go. Can you think of something you use trendy that came and go, that you used quickly and then stopped using? Did you ever use Peach?

Louie: I don’t know what that is.

KS: Okay, and you do.

Louie: Ello.

KS: Ello?

Louie: I don’t know what that is.

Casey: Those are just little popup social networks that disappear in five minutes.

Louie: Probably, probably, there’s or something like that where you could ...

Casey: Oh sure, yeah. An anonymous Q&A network.

Louie: Yeah, yeah. You could ask people whatever news ... Because I was in sixth grade. It was just, “Who do you like?” That’s it. I used it for about three months and then I just never used it again.

KS: You guys went through games quickly except for Minecraft. Your brother keeps playing that. Do you play games on your phone anymore?

Louie: I play Clash Royale. I dabble in that. It’s a fun game.

Casey: Are you spending money on that?

Louie: No. I have refrained. I have changed.

KS: You have changed your way.

LG: Changed his ways.

KS: Your multi-thousand dollar ways. All right. Claire Sayas: “I want to know if Finstas is actually a thing. Do teens have a separate for-public and for-private feed?”

Casey: That was a good question.

KS: And then, “My 16-year-old daughters all have Finstas and they’re used more than their Instas, but for them Snap is more popular than Insta.” So, what is a Finsta?

LG: That was from Kristen Graham.

KS: Any response to Claire’s question?

LG: Finstas?

KS: Fake Instas.

LG: Those fake Instas?

Louie: Well, people have an Instagram for what they want people to see and they have a Finsta for what they want their friends to see.

KS: Oh.

LG: Oh.

Louie: My Instagram and ... I guess you’d say Finsta, are both private ... I never use my Finsta, but a lot of people do a lot and that’s where they post silly videos and stuff where they want their friends to see and not to the public eye.

KS: Then you have group Instagram too.

Louie: Group chats on Instagram where we send posts that we find funny or something.

KS: Wait. You have another Instagram that I don’t know about?

Louie: You tried to follow it and I didn’t accept your request.

Casey: Oh wow. This is very good content. I’m enjoying this.

KS: I will get into your Finsta. That’s the last thing I would do. I will pursue it as if it’s an Uber memo I need. I’m not that bad. I don’t grab, go through your things, do I? I don’t think I go through your things.

Louie: No, you never had. I would never let you.

KS: I don’t think I go through my things. Maybe in my sleep as I’m walking around making vampire calls to executives in the middle of the night.

LG: I don’t believe her. No, I don’t. I’m very respectful.

Louie: That is the one quality, the one thing my mom has done very well with social media, I think.

KS: I do not go, “Hey, Louie. It’s Mom.”

Casey: I think you’ll appreciate this. Yesterday, I was chatting with your younger son Alex and he told me that he finds you very chill.

KS: Chill. I’m chill. I’m surprisingly chill. Thank you.

Casey: I was like, “You’re the only person who’s ever described Kara Swisher as chill.”

KS: Indeed. I am in social settings. I am ...

Casey: I believe it.

KS: I don’t go in and ever say, “Hey kids, are you chillin’? I’m chillin’.”

Casey: That should be your new intro to the podcast.

Louie: “Hey kids.”

Casey: It’s just, “Hey kids, are you chillin’?”

KS: “Are you chillin’?”

Casey: “I’m Kara Swisher.”

KS: All right. ... Go ahead, Lauren. You’re reading. Go ahead.

LG: This one is from Jill Druschke James. I hope I’m saying her name correctly. “Yeah, and Full rundown, please,” she says.


LG: What’s

Louie: I think I know what it is. I’ve seen ads of it on YouTube and it’s just attractive people dancing. Then I think they’re trying to promote themselves. It’s a livestreaming service. I know that, but it looks like something you might find on another part of the internet.

Casey: Got you.

Louie: From their ads. So, they might be completely different, but ...

LG: On another part of the internet.

Casey: So, it’s an app for teen strippers is basically ...

Louie: Yeah, I guess, is what the ads are telling me.

Casey: Interesting.

KS: All right. Do you ever click on it because of that?

Louie: No.

KS: Good. Good answer.

Louie: What was the other app?

KS: We talked about it.


KS: But you don’t use that very much?

Louie: I’ve never used it.

KS: Never used it, okay. All right, and then same thing, are teens using and Houseparty and a similar app to Snap, Insta? I guess not. So, it’s Snap, Insta.

Louie: Briefly, and then not anymore.

KS: Okay, all right.

LG: Okay.

KS: Next one, Lauren. Go ahead.

LG: Next question’s from Anna @heyanna: “Ask them about streaks and if they’re still using Houseparty.”

KS: All right. Let’s talk about streaks.

LG: Then there was a followup from Kashif Osman, whose name is awesome, who’s @WizKashifa: “Snapchat streaks has become a core element of the app while stories and filters have been cloned. This interaction is unique.” So, he’s saying that streaks are so unique. Talk about that.

KS: Louie has issues about streaks.

Louie: So, Snapchat for a while was a way to talk to people. If you Snapchat somebody, it was like, “Yeah, they wanna Snapchat me. I wanna talk to them and they wanna talk to me,” but now people Snapchat for the streak.

KS: Explain the streak.

Louie: Okay.

KS: I don’t even understand it.

Louie: I’m explaining it to people like you in that age range. So, a streak is, you Snapchat somebody for an amount of days like continuously, you will develop a streak. It’s like you’ve Snapchatted them for blank many days every day.

KS: Isn’t that just stalking?

Louie: No, because you have to Snapchat them. They have to open it and they have to reply to you and Snapchat.

KS: Oh, all right. Okay.

Louie: So, now, people Snapchat just for the streak. It’s kind of like an inner competition thing to see who can get the highest streak. I don’t know if people are still like, “Oh look at my streak.” I don’t know if they do that.

KS: With one person.

Louie: You can have a streak with everybody. I don’t think you can a get a streak in a group chat. It’s like if I texted you every day and then you texted me every day ...

KS: We do.

Louie: ... and then a little number shows up next to our text and said like seven ...

KS: Four.

Louie: ... or something like that.

KS: Why do you want that?

Louie: I don’t know.

Casey: It’s a little way to visualize how close you are with someone.

Louie: Then you develop different emojis that symbolize your BF, like you’re their best friend and then they’re your best friend. You can develop super BFF or something like that. So, it’s like you’re their best ... The person they Snapchat the most.

KS: Streakiest friend.

Louie: Yeah, I guess.

Casey: It was a really clever move on Snapchat’s part ...

Louie: It was.

Casey: ... that kind of created these game mechanics around real relationships.

KS: Right. Sort of like check-ins.

Casey: Anyone can follow my Snapchat. So, I’ve had some random people who will send me snaps that when I open them are just a black screen and over that they’ve used the text to just type “streaks.” Then they’ll send this to me every day.

Louie: People do that. They mass-send pictures that just say, “Streak.” I tried to refrain from doing that for a while towards the end of school, maybe because of finals, but I just never used Snapchat. Maybe once a day. I was really into streaks for a while and then I didn’t really realize the point. So, now, it’s like if I want to Snapchat you, if I Snapchat you, it’s because I want to Snapchat you, not because I want a streak.

KS: Streak, yeah. So, you don’t need games. What about filters? Do you use filters?

Louie: I’ll check in once in a while.

KS: You put like one of those dog filters on your face?

Louie: As I said, I’ll check in once in a while. You’ll see how filters are doing.

KS: Is there any one you like any more than the others?

Louie: I don’t care.

KS: The ones with the vomit coming out of your mouth, a rainbow vomit, did you ever use those?

Louie: I did use that one, yeah.

LG: It’s disgusting.

Casey: Everyone used that one.

KS: I didn’t.

Casey: No?

KS: No.

Casey: Well, you would’ve enjoyed it.

KS: I don’t like it.

Casey: Real quick about the dog filters. That filter became really iconic in its own way.

Louie: It did.

Casey: A lot of people started posting that as their profile photo on dating apps. Then I would be on these apps and I would see people’s profiles say, “If you have a dog-face filter, you’re not for me.” There was like a movement against people with dog-filter profile photos.

KS: That’s a good movement.

Louie: That’s true.

Casey: It’s insane.

KS: I think it’s an excellent, excellent movement.

LG: All right. From a total nerd perspective, the filters that Snapchat has made were actually incredibly creative and technically complicated when you think about the kind of AR that they were doing, the kind of movement and the depth and stuff that those filters offered in just like a simple iPhone or Android phone. It’s actually kind of remarkable.

Casey: Did you not work with Amina? You did a filter thing with Amina and it didn’t work.

KS: It didn’t work. I couldn’t do it. You’re right. Amina ... So, anyway, she’s good at Snapchat though. Some adults are good at Snapchat, right? Amina’s good. Some adults are very good at Snapchat. Brooke Hammerling.

Louie: Not like people that aren’t too old, I guess, people who got immersed in it.

KS: I would love to know what is too old.

Louie: I think anybody can master these apps as long as you get immersed in it and keep immersing yourself in it.

KS: So, I’m still not too old.

Louie: I don’t think you can figure it out.

KS: All right.

Louie: You’re an exception.

KS: Okay. Thanks, sweetie. All right. So, this is the last Snapchat question, I think ... Well, there’s a couple more. “Is Snapchat dead? Do you see yourself not using it? And do you like livestreaming?” This is from Tu-Lam Pham: “Is livestreaming a thing? Will these apps become the new TV?” So, do you like livestreaming? And is Snapchat dead?

Louie: The only livestreaming I do ... I don’t do it. I only did it one time and that is because my friend took my phone and livestreamed me playing video games.

KS: Oh wow. That’s exciting.

Louie: It really was.

Casey: That’s like an incredibly common use case for livestreaming.

Louie: On Instagram, you can livestream, and usually people just livestream whatever they’re doing. A lot of time, nobody watches it. So, sometimes they’ll just check in and you’ll be the only one on it. Then it’s just really awkward. What was the beginning of the question?

KS: Okay. Snapchat, using it for the rest of your life.

Louie: Snapchat is dead? No.

KS: No?

Louie: I don’t think Snapchat’s dead. I don’t think I’m going to use it for the rest of my life. I think when I get involved in something else that’s more important and time-consuming, I’ll use it less. For now, it’s a good mode of communication.

KS: Right, okay.

LG: That’s a very mature outlook on that.

KS: Mature ... It is. So, the privacy risks about the map features. Are you worried about people being ...

Louie: If I want to turn off my location, I do and I have.

Casey: There’s a feature called ghost mode where you can sort of make yourself invisible.

Louie: Right.

KS: Are you aware of them? Do you worry about people? I’m worried.

Louie: It’s only some of my people who I have on Snapchat who have added me and I have added them back who can see where I am. I think that’s fine. You can open it to whoever adds you and I don’t think that’s very ... I don’t know if that’s very smart, but the people that I add or people I know won’t come after me and stuff.

LG: That’s a good question from @BizMarchiavelli.

Casey: From Biz Markie?

LG: Biz Markie, asking about the privacy issues, “What percentage of teens are using Signal or Wickr?” Do you use anything like that?

Louie: I don’t know what that is.

KS: He doesn’t know what that is.

Casey: You don’t survey your friends and determine what percentages of them are using these apps? I need you to take a more rigorous empirical approach.

LG: We need a sample of at least 25 teens.

KS: Encrypted messaging services so nobody can get in.

Louie: I don’t really need that. Somebody like my mom, I guess, might. That’s the only people I can really think of.

KS: I do use both.

Louie: I was referring to Megan, not you.

KS: Oh okay, all right. I have secrets. I have secrets.

Louie: She was in the cabinet.

KS: I know. That’s true. She was an important government figure. I don’t think she used either, though. I think she just texted everything.

Louie: She did.

KS: She did text a lot.

Casey: Well, it’s official. She has to come on the podcast. We’re going to settle this once and for all. Who has the greater need for secure messaging?

LG: Can Alex join too?

KS: Alex does.

LG: Let’s just make it a family affair.

KS: Alex is going to be the one who’s going to need it someday.

Louie: Oh my God.

KS: All right. Next question. Lauren, ask the next question. We got three more.

LG: Next question is from Ondrej Kozak. “How do I explain to my sis who’s not into social networks to make accounts at least to watch her early teen kid?” Kara maybe could advise on that.

Louie: What? Is that somebody telling their sister to watch ...

KS: Her sister is not smart, technically literate and what she should do about her kids. I didn’t ...

Louie: Oh, I thought that question was asking, "”ou should get an account so you can see what your kids are up to.”

LG: I think he’s saying that his sister is not into social accounts. So, what should his sister do in order to monitor the activity?

KS: Do not watch your children. You’re just going to have to trust them.

Louie: The more restrictions you put on your kids, the more they’re going to act out.

Casey: I would hire a private investigator. Go to the professionals. They do this for a living. They will be able to tell you everything your child is doing. You could get a full report.

KS: It’s interesting because you would know what they’re ... It’s easy. It would be easy to follow you, Louie. It would. You’re not very deft.

Louie: I think I’m pretty good.

KS: You’re pretty good, but I think we would be able to follow you, but we don’t. We don’t actually, because you either did a good job parenting or you just didn’t. There’s some things that have happened and we dealt with them as they’ve happened. They’re mostly around instant impulsive actions that you do, like typical, you said ... You tweeted something. We won’t go into it. It’s usually around something impulsive.

Louie: Everybody makes mistakes.

KS: Everybody make mistakes. Mistakes were made. I think mostly it’s about impulsive stupidity, which is I think ...

Louie: Well, that plagues all teenagers.

KS: That’s right.

Louie: There’s something even in the brain that, like while your brain’s developing, the empathy and whatever consequence part of your brain shuts down.

Casey: That’s one thing I regret, because we didn’t know this until recently. I wish when I was 15, I could’ve said to my mom, “Mom, my brain is still developing. I wanna do all kinds of crazy things. I have another 10 years left before I’m done with this.”

KS: I still think you’re in that mode.

Casey: It’s very possible. It’s very possible.

LG: I kept a diary for years and years of my youth and into my teenage years and my mom was really, really good about never ... She knew exactly where they were. She never read them. I used to think like, “Isn’t that great? My mom just trusts me so much that she would never do that.” I realize I was a boring-as-hell teenager. It was so boring. There’s nothing nefarious.

KS: My mom ... I didn’t write a diary, but she read letters of mine and it drove me crazy. I remember thinking she read ...

Louie: Wow. It’s like living in prison.

KS: I know.

Louie: Like, “Check if there’re contraband in there.”

KS: “You’ve got letters to one of my boyfriends.” Then she talked. I was really upset by it. That’s why I don’t read ... Go through their things. I don’t. I don’t go through their closets. I hated it because I had sneaky moment.

Louie: Lucky looked through my stuff.

KS: Lucky ... My mother did look through your closet. What did she find?

LG: Really?

Louie: Things.

KS: Things. Of course ... In any case, Lucky ... My mother’s busy on that. She continues to think that’s a-okay, but I don’t. It’s hard because social media makes it hard, although they will hide it more if you go do things like that. All right. Next question, Lauren. Why don’t you ask the next one?

LG: Sure. This is from someone named Matt who first asked, “Why do I get left unopened??? LOL.” Then he goes on to say, “No one’s talked about this, but my school has an unofficial snap to find hookups and send nudes. It’s great.”

KS: This is an adult doing this.

LG: Thank you for weighing in.

KS: He’s saying there’s ... We’re not going to talk about sexting with my son, right? We’re just not going to.

Louie: Wait, wait. I’m just trying to imagine how an unofficial snap that let you find hookups would work.

LG: I know.

KS: It’s called Tinder.

Louie: People leave people unread because they aren’t good at Snapchat.

KS: What’s read? I’m sorry.

Louie: It’s when they open and don’t respond and so they either ...

KS: Oh, you told me that the other day. I didn’t know what you were talking about.

Louie: So, people ... They either aren’t very good at Snapchat or they don’t really care about Snapchat or they don’t want to talk to you and want to let you know they don’t want to talk to you.

KS: Oh.

Casey: In Snapchat, you can see whether someone has read your message or not. So, you might just never open that message as a way of signaling, “Stop talking to me.”

LG: You’re not even interesting enough to, like, I see a blue thing ...

Casey: Right.

LG: ... and blue in Snapchat means you have an unopened message and I can’t be bothered to tap on your blue little message.

KS: Wow. So, that’s bad. Do people do that, really?

LG: I guess so.

Louie: I do that to people that I don’t ...

KS: Why?

Louie: Well, I mean, some people Snapchat me that I don’t want them to Snapchat me and so I don’t respond.

KS: Oh that’s so mean. Don’t do that.

Louie: What am I ... Send a paragraph?

KS: Yeah. Say, “Hey. Hey, how’s your day going?”

Louie: I’m not going to say that.

KS: You’re going to do that now.

Louie: But people who do that to you tend to Snapchat me like, “Streak, streak, streak.” They only care about that.

KS: Okay, all right. You can do that, but other people ...

Louie: It’s not like people saying like, “How are you?” I would never do that. Again, anybody can add me, and sometimes people will just Snapchat me, “Hey.” Really? What do you think I’m going to do with that? Nothing. Get out of here.

KS: Oh my God. You’re all so mean. I feel like ... Everything is like “Sixteen Candles.” I think you should write everybody back.

Louie: You’re telling me that if I looked in your email inbox right now, you’ve replied to everyone?

KS: I do, actually.

Louie: That’s good.

KS: I’m shockingly good at replying to emails. You’d be surprised.

Louie: That does surprise me.

KS: People are always shocked. They’re like, “What?”

Louie: She has like two or three unread emails. Meanwhile, I have 3,898.

KS: You don’t use emails at all, do you?

Louie: No. When people email me, I tend not to notice. The only people I notice are teachers and that’s the only people ...

LG: Wow.

KS: He doesn’t use email at all, because I was doing some driver’s ed stuff. I’m like, “Did you get it?” He’s like, “What are you talking about?” I was like, “I sent it to your email.” “What?”

Louie: I didn’t get the email.

KS: Yes, you did get that email. You just didn’t look at them.

Louie: I got it later.

Casey: What I wonder is, will you eventually be dragged kicking and screaming into email when you get to college or will colleges just decide they’re going to have to adapt to a generation that hates email? I’m curious.

Louie: I don’t think anybody hates email. I mean, I get so much spam email because of the school-wide emails and ...

KS: They use at school ...

Louie: ... family members emailing me things constantly.

KS: That’s Megan. I don’t do as many.

Louie: Well, I mean, it’s not that I don’t like those things. It’s just they’re not vital.

Casey: Does your mom send you a lot of forwards? It’s like, “Forward this to seven more people for good luck or otherwise”?

Louie: That was a big thing in middle school. Now it’s not.

KS: I don’t do that.

Louie: It’s kind of odd though that emails are still the main way to set up things. If you want to set up an account with something, it’s always to your email. So, I have like 10 emails, like eight of which are burn emails.

KS: You don’t send emails to friends ever. I don’t think you ever ...

Louie: I think the last time I emailed someone, just talked to them, was in fifth grade.

KS: In fifth grade. Then you also don’t ... But a lot of your schoolwork is done in the cloud. That’s how you talk to teachers. So, it’s like emails.

Louie: Yeah, like Google Docs. Google Drive is a huge help.

KS: That’s how you communicate with your teachers so it’s like ...

Louie: I email my teachers to talk to them.

KS: Oh you do? Okay, all right, but then you do communicate on those school-wide platforms, right? Like your school?

Louie: No, those are just for ... The emails are just ...

KS: But your school, when you look at your homework, it’s now there.

Louie: There’s a school website. The internet is changing everything. It’s making life so much easier. I couldn’t imagine ...

KS: You have a Chromebook you use for that.

Louie: I have a Mac. I’m not a Chrome person. I’m not a fan.

KS: Okay. You’re not a fan. So, when you start dating, would you ever use dating ... Would the kids think about them? You’re in sort of the dating zone, would you use those?

Louie: I mean, I’d rather get to know someone in person.

KS: On Snapchat.

Louie: No. If I talk to somebody ... I talk to them first. Then you meet you them in person first, and then you talk to them on social media or whatever you want to talk to. Briefly, I did dabble in Tinder. I didn’t use it for like what Tinder’s for.

KS: Okay, “Briefly, I did dab ... “ It’s not a thing a parent wants to hear, Louis. “Briefly, I did dabble in Tinder.”

Casey: Louie, I’m with you. I 100 percent would’ve had Tinder on my phone if I were 15.

Louie: We just used it as a competition to see who could get the most matches. I did not win, but that’s all we used it for.

Casey: It’s definitely against the terms of service for you to use it if you’re under 18, right?

KS: Yes.

Louie: No.

Casey: No? It’s not? Okay. It was an honest question.

Louie: They had an option for people who were underage.

Casey: Okay, fair enough.

KS: Sean Rad’s getting a call right after this.

Louie: I think they got rid of that, but then the school stepped in and told us to shut it off.

KS: Good for the school. Would you use them?

Louie: No, I don’t think I’d use them because I don’t know if ... I mean, sure, if it’s like a last-ditch effort. I’m not trying to throw shade at anybody, I guess, who uses Tinder and has met somebody.

KS: Casey, Casey.

Casey: If you’re going to bring me into this real quick, Louie, here’s the deal. It’s easy to meet people when you’re in high school and college. Then when you become an adult it’s harder to meet people. So, I can ...

Louie: Go to the bar.

LG: I was just going to say that.

Louie: Go to the bar.

LG: You’re in your formative years now where your social interactions are basically constructed for you within the walls of classrooms or dorm rooms or whatever it might be. Then, like Casey said, once you get out into the real world, it’s like the world simultaneously gets much bigger in terms of your social life, and then kind of smaller because you tend to hang out with the same people all the time. So, then, how do you meet people? I say this, by the way, I literally have never used Tinder just because of the time the app came into use. Its inception, I was in a relationship, but just never used Tinder. So, I don’t even know what it’s like, but I think that I would if ...

Louie: Well, I just want to congratulate everyone and their relationships and how they never need these dating apps.

LG: No, no, no, no, but to support what Casey’s saying, I think I would.

Louie: You guys are hot. Oh my God. How do you even live?

KS: All right. Well, I hope you meet people in person, Louie. That’s a way to put it.

Casey: Wait. We were promised a Tinder story at the top of the podcast.

LG: So, speaking of ...

KS: Wait. What was my Tinder story? I forgot now.

Louie: I was 11.

Casey: Oh man.

KS: What was it?

Louie: I was 11.

KS: What was this? What happened?

Louie: I don’t know. I know you used Tinder and then told me about it later.

KS: Oh, oh, no, no, no, no, that was different.

Louie: She said she used it for research.

KS: I did. I am too famous for Tinder.

Louie: But you still used it.

KS: No, because Barry Diller called me up and said, “Look at this new friends feature on Tinder,” and I had never used it.

Louie: Friends?

KS: Whatever. There was some friends feature. Barry Diller’s like, “You should use this.” I said, “I never tried ...”

Louie: Oh you can use it to find groups, I think.

KS: Groups, right. So, I went onto Tinder and I did not ever ... I had written about sites like whatever all the other dating ...


KS: or whatever. JDate or whatever. You go on and you can ...


KS: You could go on and look at things and you could skulk, essentially. So, I observe and I got on the Tinder app and I didn’t it realize it sucked in your Facebook thing and then you’re instantly on Tinder.

Louie: That’s true. It does match with your Facebook.

KS: I didn’t know it because I wasn’t used to it, because I didn’t use dating apps. I just didn’t use dating apps and so ever, ever once. I was live and then I was just playing with it and I didn’t realize this swipe left and right thing of it.

Casey: So, you made matches?

KS: Well, I started to get matched with older women and young goth men. Older women from Oakland and young goth men. It was very bizarre. I don’t know how they decided algorithmically that’s who I should be dating.

Louie: But you have to choose which gender you’re into.

KS: My age, I didn’t.

Louie: You definitely did. So, you chose the bisexual option.

KS: I just was like, “Whatever.” It started matching me and I’m like, “What?” I realized I was on there and then I’m like, “I’m too famous for Tinder,” in a tech sense because it was all San Francisco Bay Area.

Louie: You used Tinder.

KS: I did not use Tinder. I never met someone on Tinder. In any case, I had to like click, click, click, off, off, off, off, off, off very quickly.

Louie: I don’t think I was able to delete my Tinder account. I think it’s still up there. It’s not swipe ...

KS: Please don’t swipe on Louie Swisher. No, he’s too young.

Louie: I think they shut down the age option.

KS: I will be selecting your wife and so that ...

Louie: My mother’s very into arranged marriages.

KS: I’m very into arranged marriages and that’s how it’s going to go and I’m going to select and correct ...

Louie: Live in the wrong country.

KS: It’s going to be great. You’re going to be so happy.

LG: She’ll never read your diary and she’ll never go into your phone or your iPad.

KS: I will choose your spouse for you ...

Louie: Yeah, but she will choose my wife.

KS: ... and you will be happy. Trust me about that. All right. Lauren, ask the last question.

LG: This is from Berkeley, @quirkley on Twitter. “Do their thumbs hurt/work after hours of holding their phone?”

KS: Yes, Louie.

LG: Louie.

Louie: I’ve never had experiences with that. From pencils, I’ve gotten like a thick callous on my finger.

LG: What is a pencil? What is this thing you speak of?

Louie: Like the way I hold a pencil, I have it balanced on one finger and then just the area where that pencil is has gotten much harder than the area around it.

KS: Oh wow. The pencil.

Louie: I never had the thumb problem.

Casey: These dangerous old technologies in schools are coming back to haunt us.

KS: I know. Let’s make a choice. If you had to give up your what? What is it? Your ...

Louie: If I had to give up a social network?

KS: No. If you had to give up ... Okay. I’m going to give you five, okay? Google, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat. Rank them. What would you give up first?

Louie: Facebook.

KS: Okay. Two, second?

Louie: What was the other four options?

KS: Google, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook.

Louie: I mean, I’d probably give up Google last because it controls everything. Everything is off Google.

KS: All right, okay.

Louie: So, Google would definitely be the last one.

KS: Okay.

Louie: Probably YouTube would be the fourth to last. Then Snapchat, then Instagram I guess in some order ... I can’t pick. I mean, probably ...

KS: So, Google and Instagram are the ones you keep the most?

Louie: Well, because Google is just everything. Everything’s on Google. Even if I gave those up, I could probably go to some knockoff site of that and watch the same content. I still have access to those things. Google and YouTube I guess are ...

KS: All right. So, last question, very last question: Your phone, your laptop, your mother, or your brother?

Louie: I got to get rid of ... What?

KS: Which one would you get rid off first?

Louie: My computer.

KS: Oh your computer, of course, and then?

Louie: Oh wait. This is ...

KS: The phone or mom or your brother? Oh my God. He’s hesitating.

Louie: No, I’m reading a text. I guess, phone and computer would be the first ones to go.

KS: Oh okay. You don’t have to decide between me and your brother.

Casey: Alex is going to be the one to live. I mean, he’s got so much more ahead of him. I love how this covers everything from how do you use Snapchat to who would give up, your mother or your brother. It’s a “Lord of the Flies” situation in the Swisher household.

KS: “Louie’s Choice.” What would you pick, your phone or what? What would you give up first?

Louie: My phone or my laptop? I would give up my laptop over my phone.

Casey: All the things on a laptop you can pretty much do in a phone. It’s just a bigger phone.

Louie: Exactly.

KS: We didn’t even get into virtual reality.

Louie: Or the blockchain.

KS: Or blockchain.

Louie: Can you talk about blockchain? What is that exactly?

KS: Venmo payments. You don’t care. I pay for everything.

Louie: Oh is it like ...

KS: Payments.

Louie: ... wallet?

Casey: It’s like Bitcoin.

KS: Bitcoin.

Louie: Some people I’ve heard dabble ... I use that word a lot, but ...

KS: Are you looking forward to VR?

Louie: No. I mean, it looks cool. I mean, yeah, sure, why not? It looks cool.

KS: Okay, sure, why not? Okay, Mark Zuckerberg.

Casey: That’s the best answer about virtual reality. It’s like, “I guess.”

KS: Sure, why not. All right. Lauren, do you have any other questions for the team before we let them go out and release them into the wilderness?

Casey: And check his text.

KS: Check his text.

LG: No. I feel very good about Louie’s mindset and how smart he is and his mature approach to social media.

KS: Yes, although he could be on it a whole lot less.

Louie: I’m not on it that much. I’m mostly on YouTube. I can safely say I dedicate most of my phone usage to YouTube.

Casey: Which makes it all the crazier that Google hasn’t figured out a way to build a social network out of YouTube, because my God, they have the reach.

Louie: YouTube is just an empire waiting. I think it’s the greatest app ever made, the greatest service besides Google.

KS: All right. We’ll tell Susan Wojcicki, “My son thinks your company is the greatest ever made.”

Casey: Shout-out to Susan.

Louie: It’s not the greatest company ever made, but it’s the greatest app.

KS: Good to know. This has been incredibly entertaining and very helpful. Again, I should probably not talk about overusing digital media.

Louie: Yeah, Mom.

KS: Yeah, Mom.

Louie: I know. Every moment’s just, “Hold on.” Type, type, type, type for about 20 minutes.

Casey: When Kara’s phone is out of her sight, she just starts scratching until someone hands it to her.

Louie: Sometimes I’ll just take her phone and see how long it takes for her to notice. I think the record is 15 seconds. Then she just snaps.

LG: She goes, “Oh no, my phone. My phone. Where is my phone?”

Louie: “Where’s my phone?”

LG: She actually has been using her phone intermittently throughout this podcast. Some of you may not notice because it’s behind the microphone.

Casey: She wrote great stories during this podcast, which I thought was very ...

LG: You know what? I don’t blame Louie for his mobile phone addiction because Louie may not explicitly remember this, but the very first thing he saw in his life was your BlackBerry.

KS: It’s true.

LG: Literally, as he came out of the womb, he was like, “Mom’s BlackBerry.”

Casey: He thought it was his mom for his first six months.

LG: It’s like the wolf in ...

Louie: Came out of the womb and started playing Brick Breaker.

KS: Well, you know what? You could have worse lives, I’ll tell you that. Anyway, this has been a great episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask. Louie and Casey, thank you so much for joining us.

Casey: It’s my pleasure.

Louie: Thank you.

KS: You were great.

LG: Yes, thank you. It was really fun to have you guys on.

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