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The great Bumble fumble
May 15, 2024
Episode 1161

The great Bumble fumble

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Plus, send us your cicada stories.

Today, we’re diving into Bumble’s controversial anti-celibacy ad campaign, what it says about the state of dating apps and why some women are joining the anti-patriarchy movement. It’s time for a Kimberly rant. Plus, more updates on the Baltimore bridge collapse. Later, we’ll get queasy about cicadas and smiley about puppies!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

We want to hear your cicada stories! Share them with us at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

Make Me Smart May 15, 2024 Transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kai Ryssdal 

Ready? Go! That’s just going to happen, too.

Kimberly Adams 

That was very smooth. Welcome everyone, I’m Kimberly Adams. Thank you for joining us again for Make Me Smart, where we make today make sense.

Kai Ryssdal 

The reason it’s so funny is because I literally sat down and said let’s go. No preamble. No “Hi Kimberly. I’ve been gone for 10 days, how you been? No Charlton, are you ready?”

Kimberly Adams

Hey, I’ve been gone for several days myself.

Kai Ryssdal

Yeah. That’s true. You have.

Kimberly Adams

Welcome back.

Kai Ryssdal

And welcome back to you, too. You know, clearly nobody broke the franchise while we were gone, so that’s good.

Kimberly Adams

Yeah, I heard they had a lot of fun on Friday.

Kai Ryssdal

Yes, Bridget Bodnar. Bridget, by the way, left a ring light in the studio. I’m like, ring light?

Kimberly Adams 

Oh, so you’ll be all glowy the next time.

Kai Ryssdal 

Well, no. Nobody needs a ring light. And me? Come on. People know what I look like already. Alright, anyway. And people know, I think who I am. But if you don’t. If you’re new to the pod, first of all, welcome. Second of all, I’m Kai Ryssdal. It’s Wednesday, the 15th of May. News, and then some smiles. Which by the way, you stole mine. So, let’s get to it. What do you got, Kimberly?

Kimberly Adams 

So, I was off for a few days in St. Louis helping my mom with a garden for Mother’s Day.

Kai Ryssdal

Oh, you’re a very good daughter.

Kimberly Adams

Oh, thank you. Lots of lifting of bags of mulch and soil and digging, which will relate to one of my make me smiles later. But it also gave me a lot more time to be very online in a way that I am usually not. And holy cow, the Bumble scandal blew up all of my internet. So, for people who have not been following or who are blessedly out of the dating pool. Bumble is a dating app that, you know, came on the market with the idea that women would make the first move because men were being creepy. And by women making the first move, it would make the experience better for women, right? And so, Bumble has changed his policy a little bit and has created a new system where women can quasi like, make basically an auto response so that men can sort of make the first move because, you know, basically, the idea was that it was attracting a lot of low effort men, right? And so, Bumble has had some leadership changes. And like many of the other dating apps, lots of people have been leaving the apps. Burned out. We’ve had some reporting on this on Marketplace. People are just over the apps. And I know, personally from my own circle of people who date. People are just over the dating apps. And so, in an attempt to try to drum up some new business, Bumble launched this new ad campaign, basically slamming women for choosing celibacy and trying to make a joke out of a very real trend of women traumatized by dating who are just tapping out, and choosing celibacy and choosing to sort of take some time for themselves to reset and having some higher standards for dating. And this ad campaign sparked a huge backlash online showing that, you know, with women saying that Bumble is out of touch, that they are basically telling women to lower their standards and basically put out for the sake of their business. And Bumble has since apologized. Bumble has taken down the ads. And the company has said that it’s going to use the billboard space that it was using for some of these ads for domestic violence groups. But for people who missed it, this is some of these ads said. Let me just pull this up. There’s a great article in The Cut about it. So, one of them said: “A vow of celibacy is not the answer.” Another one: “You know full well a vow of celibacy is not the answer.” “Thou shalt thou shalt not give up on dating and become a nun.” And I have to say that the anger that came in response to this is so visceral amongst many of the online communities that I privy to, because the women who are choosing celibacy, not to mention all the asexual people, not to mention people, you know, who are victims of trauma or something like that. The women who are choosing celibacy, just to sort of tap out of dating are often doing it in response to sort of repeated exposure to misogyny, and just a terrible dating environment. And I know just from speaking to my own friends, like you hear these horrible stories of men who are married and out here dating and men who just use really terrible language when talking to women, who are demeaning women, and they’re just like, yeah, no, I’ll pass until, you know, the men are better. And yes, of course, it’s not all men. We know this. But most women, at this point, have had this experience. And it’s also, this whole thing has drawn even more attention to something that has been percolating online, but may not have crossed over into the mainstream, which is the 4B movement. Have you heard of this, Kai?

Kai Ryssdal

4B? No.

Kimberly Adams

4B movement. So, this is a movement that started in South Korea. And it’s based on four Korean words that mean the refusal of heterosexual marriage, childbirth, romance, and sexual relationships. And the 4B movement in South Korea is basically women saying, we are over the misogyny and the patriarchy, and we are just tapping out all together. And the South Korean government is freaking out because their birth rates are dropping off. And it’s causing, you know, their men to be really weird in all sorts of ways. And this movement is starting to pick up steam throughout the rest of the world in different countries, especially in some of the developed economies. And I think the Wall Street Journal had a story the other day about the birth rate kind of falling off a cliff in a lot of these developed countries. And this is one of many reasons why it’s happening in addition to being incredibly expensive to raise children. But these Bumble ads, you know, one of the most popular comments in response to some of the posts about this was okay, now you’re just convincing women to join the 4B movement. To just say, you know what? We’re out. We’re done. And until the society changes, we are withdrawn. What was that ancient story, the ancient Greek story about the women who were sick of their men going to war and withheld sex until they came out of the peace deal?

Kai Ryssdal 

I don’t know. Oh, but there is a listener out there who will know.

Kimberly Adams 

There is a listener out there who will know. Anyway, there’s been a lot of really good insightful writing about why these ads touched such a nerve, and why the dating apps are doing so poorly right now. We’ll have a couple links in the show notes. But from the business perspective on this, I do want to flag the last paragraph on this in the AP story in talking about Bumble. It said: “The dating app company has been going through a rough patch. Its shares have fallen steadily since last July, dropping roughly 45% over that time amid concerns over its inability over its ability to reach younger users. In February, it laid off 350 employees, roughly 30% of its workforce in February, when it announced plans to revamp its app in order to make it more attractive to Gen Z.” Perhaps one of those 350 employees would have told you all this was a real bad idea.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yeah. So, I have two comments. Number one is men are terrible.

Kimberly Adams

Not all.

Kai Ryssdal

Look, I am one, and while I’m a good guy now. When I was younger, I was not. You know, men are terrible. Men are freaking terrible.

Kimberly Adams 

Have you heard this? I want to hear your other point, ut have you heard the men versus bear debate at all?

Kai Ryssdal 

No, what’s the men versus bear debate?

Kimberly Adams 

So, another very online thing is they’ll ask women. If you were alone in the woods, would you rather encounter a man or a bear?

Kai Ryssdal

Oh, yeah. Oh, sure.

Kimberly Adams

And all the women say the bear. But what’s even worse is all the reasons why.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yeah, no. Which we can all imagine. Which we can all imagine. And my second point only is to say, smash the patriarchy. And I wouldn’t blame women if they decided forever that they wanted nothing to do with men. Honest to God. Honest to God. And I’m being a little bit facetious, but not really. Men are terrible.

Kimberly Adams 

Well, especially. And I also linked to a USA Today article about the 4B movement, which really gets into sort of how our society has not caught up with the economic gains of women. And you know, when you have a society that is built on the idea of, you know, marriage and relationships being a way to erase the independence of women, at least heterosexual marriage, and women needing to be financially reliant on their partners, and that is not the case anymore. But the mentality has not shifted to adjust to it. And so, we’re getting a bigger and bigger disconnect. And I’m surrounded in my own life by professional women who are tapping out of the dating market to travel and to raise their kids or to have kids on their own without the drama. And I really wonder about the long-term consequences of this. I saw a dating coach online who said he anticipates that in a decade, most men will have AI girlfriends just because it’s easier. And women will just like have Golden Girls type communes because we just don’t want to bother. All right, that was my long rant. What’s your news? Everybody

Kai Ryssdal 

Everybody gets a rant. Okay, so I’ve got two. One is just sort of randomly interesting. So, this report came out yesterday, that preliminary report from the NTSB. I think it was the NTSB on the dolly in the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. It’s like 30 pages, lots of diagrams. My point is, it’s completely readable. Read it, and you have a much better sense of what that ship is about, how it came to be, and what happened. Totally readable. I highly recommend it. My second point, and this is off the beaten path of this podcast most of the time. But man, that debate news is really interesting. It’s really interesting that Biden came out this morning after some back-channel conversations. Biden came out this morning and basically challenged Donald Trump to two debates with certain conditions. No live audience of which I am completely in favor because debate audiences are terrible. Microphone gets cut off when it’s not your turn to speak, which is really interesting given the Republican candidates proclivity for interjecting. And it’s not going to be done by the Committee on Presidential Debates. It’s going to be done by ABC and by CNN. They’re going to be two. One’s in like June, and one’s in like September. Super interesting. And it’s going to be very interesting to see the way that changes the political dynamic of this race. Really interesting.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah. And you know, we had a discussion about debates a while back. I am glad that they are having them. Do you think that there’s value? And it will be interesting to see how that goes. That’s interesting the mic cut off thing.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yeah. Yeah.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah, we’ll see if it works.

Kai Ryssdal 

It’s been agreed to. And so, you know, there are a thousand ways this could go sideways. But for now, it looks like they’re on.

Kimberly Adams

All right.

Kai Ryssdal

There we go.

Kimberly Adams 

Well, then. Let’s do our smiles. Okay, I’ll give you the one that we both wanted.

Kai Ryssdal 

Okay. All right. Go ahead.

Kimberly Adams 

I’m going to do my very St. Louis one. So, in St. Louis when I was working in the garden, I noticed, like, shells, everywhere in the way. I was like, what am I even looking at? Cicadas. So many cicadas.

Kai Ryssdal

Oh, were they out already?

Kimberly Adams

Oh, my gosh, there were thousands and thousands of cicadas in my mother’s yard because I was like digging in for these hostas. I’m like, what? She just put down all this black mulch, and I’m like, why is it orange at the base of this tree, and I look, and I’m like, are these cicada shells? I look up on the tree, and I see them like literally bursting out of their shells all over the tree. And then as I was digging elsewhere, I could see their little burrows. And so, as I’m digging, I can see them burrowing up from the ground. And it was so wild. I saw like all of the stages of the cicadas, and then you know, I’m like. At first, I was trying to avoid them because I’m not trying to kill a creature.

Kai Ryssdal

Yeah, but come on. There are trillions of them. Come on.

Kimberly Adams

There were so many. And then, a family friend Christine. It’s funny because Christine, we’ve sort of been tangential to each other for the last decade, but never met in real life. And she came over to bring my mom something and didn’t realize that I hosted this show and apparently, she listens to the show. Halfway through the conversation, she was like, wait a minute. That was funny. But then we were like look at the cicadas and she’s like no, no thanks.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yeah, no. Hell no. You kidding me? Oh god.

Kimberly Adams 

She politely looked and backed away.

Kai Ryssdal 

Tell you what? If you’re a listener, send us your cicadas stories. We’ll get one or two a month on the air.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah. And so, my story in there, of course, all the St. Louis newscasters are like, here are all the ways to cook cicadas. You can make them into ice cream. You can put them on pizza.

Kai Ryssdal 

Blah, blah, blah, but hard pass.

Kimberly Adams 

Apparently, they taste like shrimp.

Kai Ryssdal

Okay.

Kimberly Adams

My uncle made them when the emergence happened this last time around DC area, and I was just like, good for you. Good for you. You know what? If it were an apocalypse, a zombie apocalypse, I would 100% be eating the cicadas. So, there’s that. Okay. Now for the non-gross story. Our joy.

Kai Ryssdal 

Okay. So, go to the Washington Post. Go to their style section. Go to of interest, and you will see a picture of Atreus the Leonburger looking straight at the camera being cuddled. The Washington Post, Maura Judkis is the reporter’s name, went to the Westminster Dog Show and tried to pet all 200 breeds at that dog show. It is an amazing, amazing story with lots of great dog pictures. I love this piece so much. I love this piece. So very much.

Kimberly Adams 

I have never in my entire career, and I’ve been a journalist since I was 16 years old. So, what’s that? Like? 34 years at this point? Never have I been more jealous of another journalist until I read this story. What am I doing?

Kai Ryssdal

Wait, you’re 40. Not 50.

Kimberly Adams

Oh, God. Did I do math wrong?

Kai Ryssdal 

Yes. 24 years. That’s alright. It’s okay.

Kimberly Adams 

Business and economics journalist who can’t do math. It is what it is.

Kai Ryssdal 

Anyway, to the point. Jealous of another reporter.

Kimberly Adams 

Jealous of another reporter. And I was just like, what is my life? Why am I not petting dogs on the company? Like, this is the life I need.

Kai Ryssdal 

It’s such a great piece. These dogs are amazing. And I would do that in a heartbeat.

Kimberly Adams

For sure. For sure.

Kai Ryssdal

There you go.

Kimberly Adams 

We have to find an economic angle on the Westminster dog show next time.

Kai Ryssdal 

Right, and then I’ll just go. Yeah, totally. All right.

Kimberly Adams 

All right. That is it for us today. We are going to be back tomorrow. Until then send your thoughts, questions, and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org, including your cicada stories. Or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

Kai Ryssdal 

Courtney Bergsieker produces this podcast. Ellen Rolfes writes the newsletter for this podcast. This podcast today was engineered by Charlton Thorp. The intern of this podcast is Thalía Menchaca.

Kimberly Adams 

The composers of the theme music of this podcast are Ben Tolliday and Daniel Ramirez. The senior producer is Marissa Cabrera. Bridget Bodnar is the director of podcasts. And Francesca Levy is the executive director of Digital.

Kai Ryssdal 

That was a good “yes, and” moment right there. That was good.

Kimberly Adams

Yes, and.

Kai Ryssdal

There we go. Alright.

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