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Changing your Facebook relationship status still means something in 2018

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But will my post about being single get 100 likes on Instagram?

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The time has come, everyone. Summer is basically here, and Why’d You Push That Button is wrapping season two just in time for us to get our butts to the beach. But before we do, we have an episode for you. It’s about relationships, Facebook statuses, Instagram posts, and breakups. I would say this is our “personal” episode.

We came to talk about whether the Facebook relationship status matters anymore, and we get some answers. Definitely. First we talk to Nayomi Reghay, The Daily Dots’ advice columnist, about whether caring about being official on Facebook or Instagram is dumb. She also gives us advice, which I appreciated. Then we talk to one of Kaitlyn’s sister’s friends, Megan, who brings us back down to earth and explains what the youth think of relationship statuses.

Finally, we chat with Bobby Finger and Lindsey Weber of the podcast Who? Weekly about how celebrities handle becoming official with a new boo. With press releases, magazine covers, paparazzi photos, Instagram, Facebook, and the Notes app at their disposal, how do they announce a new relationship? More crucially, how do they break up?

You can listen to the episode here or anywhere else you find podcasts, like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, and our RSS feed. We hope you have a great summer, and please do email us at button@theverge.com if you have episode ideas for season three. We’ll see you in a few months.

Ashley: Hi! Can you tell us a little bit about your podcast and what you do?

Lindsey Weber: So I’m Lindsey Weber.

Bobby Finger: I’m Bobby Finger.

Lindsey: And we co-host a podcast called Who? Weekly. And it’s about the ins and outs of celebrities. Mostly the whos, the lower echelon of celebrities. With the occasional them.

Bobby: The occasional them. You can’t really talk about the whos without occasionally talking about the royals.

Lindsey: So we’re obsessed with celebrity behavior and culture and especially the behavior and culture of the thirstiest of our celebrities.

Bobby: And the thirstiest ones are the ones who typically use your social platforms. If not the most, at least the most interestingly.

Lindsey: Yeah, oh, for sure. They’re very good at stuff online.

Ashley: So for today’s episode of our podcast, we’re talking about Instagram official. This is a thing. You become Instagram official with your new boo. It’s a whole thought process. When do you post the first Story pic? Or video? When do you post the first grid photo or video? Like there’s a differentiation. So Kaitlyn and I were wondering about how celebrity relationship statuses... because a lot of blogging is piecing together things, right? There is never the official announcement, necessarily. Or maybe there was at one point. So I’m wondering how you think about finding a celebrity’s status with a boo.

Lindsey: Well first it was what? Paparazzi photos? Being caught together or being rumored to be at the same place at the same time? Which still happens but, you know.

Bobby: Paparazzi photos, but in terms of being official declarations, the People cover. The nicer end of the tabloid cover. Or just a profile where they just casually mention it, like a Vogue profile. It would be like, “Oh, I’m currently dating this person.”

Lindsey: Well I think they would be less casual back then. Now they’re more casual because you can find out other ways. But back then I think it would be a big deal to announce something and you would wrap a whole story around the announcement of a celebrity couple.

Bobby: Yeah.

Lindsey: But then it makes its way up from the shitty tabloids to the reputable ones. So it’s rumored in National Enquirer and then it slowly makes its way up.

Ashley: Yeah, like Daily Mail is still playing this game on Snapchat. All the time.

Lindsey: And they’re often right. That’s why TMZ knows when everyone dies, they’re often right. You know, they have sources.

Bobby: It was press releases and publications that were not controlled by the celebrity. And I think that’s sort of how it’s transitioned to now, there are still press releases, but they are controlled by the celebrity on their Instagram feeds.

Ashley: Are there press releases about relationships?

Lindsey: Totally.

Lindsey: Denial of relationships, though I think.

Bobby: It’s a denial, yeah. Denials.

Lindsey: Well Bobby has a story. Well we were talking about this earlier when we were talking about being on this podcast and how you know, because now celebrities own their own kind of press release behavior, where you can go to Instagram or Twitter and just say whatever the hell you want. You don’t need your publicist to release a press release. Also, releasing a press release now has such a different tone. It’s not chill anymore so it kind of means something else when you do it. So we were talking about how now Instagram became the place that they would go, but now publicists have reclaimed the Instagram because now it’s like popular to do it. So now there are publicists acting on behalf of celebrities in their Instagram. It used be more of a natural behavior, now it’s not authentic at all. So we’re back to the beginning almost.

Bobby: Yeah, and I think it’s also press releases then publicist, then asking a publicist and getting conformation of denial. What I thought was really interesting was, when was this? Like two or three weeks ago when Amy Schumer got married to the random guy? But the other random guy?

Lindsey: Actually, like name him. Name him now.

Bobby: Chris Fischer.

Lindsey: Wow. That was amazing.

Bobby: It was a rumor. Suddenly one morning, cause it was like a Monday or a Tuesday. And it was like Amy Schumer got married this weekend to a guy we’ve never heard of. The wedding was attended by all these stars. There are no photos. It was very private. But she’s definitely married. And so I reached out to her publicist, because I looked at her Instagram and there was nothing about it. There was nothing on any of her socials. And I reached out to her publicist and I was like, “Hey can you confirm or deny US Weekly’s story? This is out of the blue. Do you have a comment?” And usually, seven times out of ten you don’t even get a response. Or at least I don’t. But she wrote back maybe an hour later and it just said something along the lines of, “Please consult Amy’s Instagram for more details.”

Kaitlyn: Oh my gosh. Really?

Bobby: And at first I was like I just looked at her Instagram, it’s not there. She had just posted it. And then she was like this is where it is.

Lindsey: I would say that is a form of a press release. It’s like the new 2018 version of a press release. But I think we are going to see more and more of publicists getting kind of in between a celebrity and their social media because it used to be they could do whatever they wanted and that was what was fun about it. Now it’s boring again.

Bobby: They might shop it to different tabloids or pick a favorite, pick someone they prefer. Like if Jennifer Aniston was talking to someone about, like, Jennifer Aniston would choose People. The Kardashians might choose Life and Style. But it’s like why talk to someone else if I can just put really well-curated photos and a nice little caption on my Instagram and control it.

Lindsey: Yeah and I think the other thing, too, is now that the algorithm, the dreaded algorithm, puts things desperately out of order, you have to figure out now new ways to get your stuff out there. I mean, like let’s say you follow a ton of celebrities, it’s not gonna be like they’re bumped up to the top of your feed. So how do you post an official picture and then make sure everyone sees it, like it’s a lot harder now.

Bobby: Then you post the exclusive in US Weekly and say that, here’s a rumor.

Lindsey: That’s true. So now you can do both. We’re back to doing both I guess.

Kaitlyn: But also, like, now E! News or Billboard will be like hit the Instagram post as news, which is crazy to me. Literally my favorite news story of the last year was when Sarah Hyland wore like, the Wells Adams initial necklace and tagged Taylor Swift in it and everyone was like, “She’s dating Wells Adams!” And it’s like what? What? It was amazing. So good. It’s just like her mouth and the necklace.

Lindsey: Yeah, right. You have people on the Instagram beat and they just write a whole post around one Instagram.

Bobby Finger: And we also have, that just happened, the opposite. The celebrity breakup announcement can be done over Instagram, or even the coupling or uncoupling can be done on Instagram via unfollowing or following, which always gets coverage.

Ashley: So is there someone who’s like looking specifically?

Bobby: That’s what I was going to say.

Lindsey: Yes. Yes.

Bobby: Fans definitely do it.

Lindsey: Yes. 100 percent.

Bobby: But I think there must be someone on staff at TMZ and someone who has some sort of software that will program alerts to their devices.

Lindsey: 100 percent, yes. Also you know that exists, because when you look in your Instagram, you can see the activity. It’s not for everyone, but you can see behaviors of people. I followed, I liked, I commented, or whatever.

Bobby: Kourtney just apparently unfollowed her young boyfriend. Her hunky boyfriend.

Ashley: Well, so it seems like the Kardashians kind of use their platforms organically and authentically. But you’re also saying that there are these celebrities who have relinquished control over to PR reps.

Lindsey: Who maybe are more uncomfortable with it but still wanna use it so they’ve already kind of passed it on. And publicists now coming to people now saying, “Hey, I can take that for you. You don’t have to deal with it.”

Ashley: Do you think a publicist is like, “We’re just going to unfollow here. Don’t worry about it.”

Lindsey: I mean, no, I don’t think that would be, no.

Bobby: No.

Lindsey: 100 percent not.

Ashley: So that’s the celebrity acting.

Bobby: Yes.

Lindsey: But that’s also why the Kardashians are so Kardashian. They are so good at this stuff. They really do strike a balance between inauthenticity and authenticity via all their stuff.

Bobby: Kourtney knew that unfollowing someone would get a story written about it. She didn’t think that no one would notice.

Lindsey: Selena and Bieber have unfollowed and re-followed each other thousands of times on Instagram and every single time...

Bobby: It’s on Just Jared.

Lindsey: Junior.

Bobby: Every single time.

Lindsey: Just kidding. It’s normal Jared probably.

Bobby: But their relationship is usually paparazzi photos because they’re so famous. But when they appear on each other’s Instagram, it’s a huge deal.

Lindsey: Yeah. I don’t know. I mean I think the becoming official or whatever, we’re also talking about how now you can archive photos, so you can actually take somebody totally out of your feed if you were like, you know. Do you delete your ex from your feed if you’re famous? Maybe. I was saying to you now, a lot of celebrities use their feed as like a comprehensive whole. So like, they will delete all of them and start fresh. So when you go look, you’re only seeing their new projects, you’re only seeing their new whatever, you’re only seeing this, or you’re seeing a grid of their whole face like Ali Larter, whatever you want to do. And like, and so I think that’s also a kind of a way you could, you know, announce that you’ve moved on from somebody or not have that history.

Kaitlyn: I’m curious why this is something I thought was so fun and I don’t know why more people didn’t do it. Demi Lovato, I think it was, wrote that really long Notes app thing about why she was breaking up with her boyfriend and posted it on Instagram. And I was like, this is amazing, everyone should start doing this. Why did that become a thing?

Bobby: People screenshot Notes apps as like their own press releases pretty frequently. Like, Demi loves doing it.

Lindsey: Demi’s is the best. I don’t know, maybe you don’t remember this, but a big joke on our podcast is that Demi’s screenshot said, “poems.” Like she put it in a folder called poems.

Kaitlyn: I did not remember that. Wow.

Lindsey: So that’s hilarious. She’s great. That actually, I think when she did it, that is authentic. But I think now that’s been...

Bobby: Demi is always authentic.

Lindsey: Sure. But don’t you think now we’re at, this is maybe a year later, now publicists are back in there helping them do this stuff. And so it’s become, the Notes app thing has been taken over and now it’s not as authentic anymore.

Ashley: Yeah, Kaitlyn and I have talked about the authenticity of these social platforms. We have come to the conclusion that Venmo is the most authentic social platform. That’s what it is.

Lindsey: Oh, totally.

Bobby: There’s stakes.

Ashley: Yeah and no one is lying about money. Like it’s the facts.

Lindsey: No, it’s true. And it’s not quite performative, but it’s a little performative.

Ashley: You can’t fake it necessarily. Whereas its seems like you could plant official relationships if you wanted to. I know the YouTubers are into planting stuff.

Lindsey: Yeah, but I think planting relationships is still quite a thing that happens. There are so many fake relationships. I think, still.

Bobby: We saw that a year ago with Bella Thorne. One of our listeners found Bella Thorne’s Venmo account, and there was all this speculation that she was dating this other woman named Bella and it was like very silly, but they were just friends. Anyway, something that someone used as backup was they found her Venmo and it was like they had been paying each other on Venmo. Like what does that really prove?

Lindsey: And then they were finding, they were looking for all these celebrities Venmo’s and finding them.

Ashley: I found some when we were doing the episodes. I don’t have Venmo and then I got into this whole thing where I was like, oh my god I have to start looking people up. I found very minor celebrities like John Early and stuff.

Lindsey: It’s great. Someone who listens to our podcast found Sean Spicer’s Venmo. And that was a big thing and that kind of broke out and people were writing about it and invoicing him for shit.

Ashley: Oh, like requesting cash.

Lindsey: Yeah and like sending him a cent and being like, “F you,” or whatever.

Bobby: But I feel like that’s the sort of thing that happens next. Where it’s like once everyone is tired of the Instagram reveal, someone will do a sneaky, very high profile Venmo reveal.

Lindsey: Do you? Come on.

Bobby: Yeah, like Shawn Mendes, sure. Young people? Yeah. Some sort of new platform that doesn’t exist yet.

Ashley: And so just like, you both personally, how do you feel about the Instagram official in your own lives? Is this something you have to weigh out or do you think about it really?

Bobby: I definitely feel the burden and I recently got engaged and the conversation about the engagement photo was an actual conversation where, in the moment, I was like I cannot believe we are having this conversation, but I guess this is an essential conversation to have. I also don’t use Facebook, I use Twitter but like, it’s so impersonal. So my most personal social platform is going to be Instagram, and so it was a thing to do. We had to time out, like, well let’s both post it at the same time so no one gets it first. Although like, based on the algorithm who knows? And we did it and we posted our photo two days after we took it. It was very weird, but it was also very easy to tell everyone at the same time.

Kaitlyn: Who got more likes, though?

Bobby: I have more followers. I did have to think about it, though, because I wanted to make sure I told all of my closest friends individually, and it was like, we can’t post the Instagram until everyone we actually like knows. And then when that was done we posted the Instagram.

Lindsey: What if you forgot someone?

Bobby: No and that was going through my mind because I was like I hope no one I’m really close with finds out on my Instagram. That would have made me kind of upset. As far as I can tell, I don’t think that happened.

Lindsey: I don’t think that people really care that you wouldn’t tell them then they would see it.

Ashley: Some people take it personally.

Lindsey: I truly wouldn’t care.

Bobby: You would think it was weird if you found out I was engaged on Instagram, and I didn’t text you. Do not say that you wouldn’t think I was a little weird.

Lindsey: Okay, but maybe you. But I’m just saying that there are some people in my life that have told me, “I’m engaged.” And I’m like, “Cool. That’s great.” But if I had seen on their Instagram first, I wouldn’t be mad?

Bobby: But I’m thinking about that top tier.

Lindsey: Maybe babies are a little bit different. That’s a whole other conversation. I think aside from engagement, because that’s less of a surprise if someone is dating for a long time, the stalking of people through their Instagrams to find out if they are dating anyone at all first, let’s say you just met them or whatever. Or like someone you know keeps putting people in Instagrams. I think it has really gotten interesting, like I personally don’t post a lot of actual Instagrams anymore.

Ashley: The grid.

Bobby: Me neither.

Lindsey: Because for some reason it feels too much. The grid. I post Stories, everything to me feels more appropriate for a Story now. I have yet to come across, since January, when was I in Nashville? Since a long time ago, I haven’t found anything worthy of a grid for me, maybe I’m really raising the bar too high?

Ashley: I think this is the trend is that no one is posting, at least what we’ve sort of discussed here.

Lindsey: And like who sees it? I think also now that I have a little more followers because of the podcast, I’m anxious because I feel like people really go in, and I’m almost like, you know what, I don’t need the burden of that. But now I think like, because of stories, you’re going to have to be a little bit more discerning to find Instagram official stuff. Because that’s less of a, like, us posed for an actual photo and more of a, like putting pieces together. It’s basically gotten more obtuse, I think.

Bobby: If you’re gonna post a nice photo, though. Like, a friend of mine recently got married, and this isn’t exactly the same, but it was like, the nicest photo was on the grid and then the stories were all of the outtakes on the camera phone.

Lindsey: That’s nice.

Bobby: Like the camera phone photos, which was interesting. But it was still, I was imagining the process that that took. We have to come to an agreement on like which photo that will represent us and then we can post the other ones just rapid fire story.

Lindsey: Yeah, I mean and think about if this is how complicated it is for normal people, like celebrities, like oh my god, I can’t, I’m stressed out about it.

Ashley: Yeah, I mean, I think with my friends I’ve noticed the story is sort of dipping your toe into the official, where you’re like, you know your friends’ social groups, so I know if my friend makes a new friend. And I’m like, who’s your new friend? Because I don’t know your new friend. That’s weird. And so when they post someone that they might be dating or someone hot, I’m like, who’s the hot person in your Instagram? I don’t know this hot person. That’s weird. And so I start texting people and I’m like, who’s in this person’s Instagram? Which I did very recently.

Lindsey: You are devious.

Ashley: I just love drama.

Bobby: You act like we don’t do it. We participate in this exact same kind of thing.

Ashley: But you’re doing it for celebrities and I mean friends, too.

Lindsey: Right, and we do that for our friends, too. But I think what’s great about for celebrities, it’s so shameless. And you don’t have to be embarrassed about going 400 photos back into someone’s feed if they are a celebrity. Who fucking cares? You can do that, and you can watch all their stories and you can be really creepy and click on all the tags. Our favorite celebrity behavior is clicking on tags until you get somewhere insane. You’re like, who’s that? Who’s that? Who’s that? You’re 14 people removed and you’re like, I’m having the time of my life here. Where am I? It’s like Instagram Explore. You know, where Instagram tells you who you should be following, and it’s some celebrity you’ve never heard of, but they know you should be following them.

Bobby: Yeah, they’re right.

Lindsey: So it is like, really charming, to do that when it is a celebrity. A little bit more creepy when it’s someone you know, I guess.

Kaitlyn: One of our other interviews was the Daily Dot advice columnist, and she was talking about this girl who was like very heartbroken that her boyfriend didn’t include her in his Instagrams. Do you think that celebrities have to feel more embarrassed about that than normal people? After the baby announcement, I looked at Travis Scott’s Instagram, and his post was like of a drawing of like a skull with its teeth falling out. And I was like, this is what you posted on Instagram the day after your child was born? It just seems like if you are self conscious about your relationship, it’s even more obvious if you’re famous.

Bobby: I would actually think it’s less, there’s less pressure on a celebrity because it’s like, the pressure is on them having their own sort of unbreakable brand.

Lindsey: It’s more about the brand, so you can just, the excuse would be just, oh they’re just using this for promotion. But somebody who you know to be, who is famous, who you know to be super share-y on Instagram, you’re right, it would be weird if they didn’t share. I mean, I don’t know why this is coming to me, but Julianne Hough did a full reveal of her new hair color. That’s the kind of... like a full reveal. Like posts, multiple. And then stories. And then it went to magazines, too. She gave official photos to magazines.

Bobby: She was very emotional about it.

Lindsey: This was a hair color change.

Bobby: She had always wanted to be, was it pink?

Lindsey: She went red.

Bobby: Red, yeah.

Bobby: She always wanted to be red.

Lindsey: She looks great.

Bobby: And someone found, oh I think it was me. But it was a video. I was like, we were talking about this on the phone. But I was digging deep into Julianne Hough that week, or that day, and I found a video, like an interview of her four years ago where she was like, “One of these days I really, I think I’m gonna like bite the bullet and go red or something.” And in my sick, twisted Instagram brain I was like, that’s a seed she planted because she wanted us to find it. And it was like she knew she would reveal it on Instagram in a few years. Which is crazy but it’s like, we are so used to following those Instagram breadcrumbs, that like I see them everywhere now. I don’t believe in coincidences anymore. Like I believe we’re always, we’re constantly being played.

Lindsey: Wow, Instagram has taken away your joy.

Bobby: And that you cannot thoroughly ingest an Instagram photo in under three minutes because you have to examine everything. You have to look at everything.

Lindsey: There are so many things to click on. So many places to go.