Episodes
You’ve heard the story: Young people got “participation trophies” as kids, and it taught them to be entitled, lazy workers. But here’s what you haven’t heard: Participation trophies are 100 years old, and for most of that time, they were considered a good thing. Here’s the real story of how these trophies became villainized… and what their actual impact is.   Get in touch!  Enter to win a free...
Published 03/25/21
You can learn a lot from a simple margarita… because when you take one home from a restaurant in America, you’re participating in a change that was hundreds of years in the making. In this episode, we dig deep into how cocktails-to-go became suddenly legal (and why they were once illegal in the first place). It’s a surprisingly complex story that reveals our weird history with alcohol, and how the smallest shifts can lead to unexpectedly massive changes. Get in touch! Instagram:...
Published 02/25/21
We like to say that things were better before. But... what year was that, exactly? Join me on a trip through history, as we return to every supposed "golden age" to find out just how golden it was. Then we answer the big question: Is nostalgia useful or harmful, and how do we make people more excited for tomorrow? This is a full remake of our classic 2016 episode, now with lots more insights and history! Get in touch! Web: jasonfeifer.com Newsletter signup Instagram: @heyfeifer Twitter:...
Published 01/28/21
This podcast was called Pessimists Archive. Now it's called Build For Tomorrow. Why? Because this show is optimistic — and it needed a name that reflected that. It's the same show you love, now with a name that loves you back. Ready to help spread optimism? Here are some things you can do: 1. Sign up for my newsletter about how to find opportunity in change! 2. Tell friends about the show! Need my help? DM me on Instagram or Twitter. I'm happy to send a note to your friend. 3. Stay tuned....
Published 01/27/21
We once knew how to do important things... until new technology made us weaker, lazier, and dumber. That’s a story we’ve told ourselves for centuries. But is it true? Get in touch! Newsletter: jasonfeifer.com Instagram: @heyfeifer Twitter: @heyfeifer Our sponsors: BitTrustIRA.com/archive to wave the sign-up fee Betterhelp.com/archive to get 10% off your first month Special Holiday deal! Go to NordVPN.com/pessimists and use code PESSIMISTS to get 68% off a 2 year plan plus 4 additional...
Published 12/28/20
These feel like historic times… so how can we share our wisdom and experiences with future generations? Turns out, it’s really hard! This episode explores why time capsules fail, why almost nothing lasts for thousands of years, why the future may not care about us after all—and why all of that is just fine. Get in touch! Instagram: @heyfeifer Twitter: @heyfeifer Newsletter: jasonfeifer.com To get deals from our sponsors: NordVPN: NordVPN.com/pessimists BetterHelp:...
Published 11/26/20
If you’ve ever voted in an election, watched the Bachelor, or worried about the end of days, then you’ve probably fallen for a specific rhetorical trick. In this episode, we explore the history of the phrase “the most important election of our lifetime,” and why the human brain is so UNIQUELY, INSANELY, OUTRAGEOUSLY(!!!) susceptible to hyperbole. Get in touch! Email: jasonfeifer@gmail.com Web: jasonfeifer.com Instagram: @heyfeifer Thanks to our sponsors: Betterhelp:...
Published 10/29/20
We have a clear narrative about the 2016 and 2020 election hacking: It’s social media’s fault. But Russia has used the same strategy against America for 100 years (and that’s just the start). If we treat this like it’s only a Facebook problem, then we’ll never truly protect our elections. This is the history of election hacking in America, and the repercussions of calling something “unprecedented” when it’s not. Get in touch: Email: pessimistsarchive@gmail.com Web: pessimists.co Twitter:...
Published 09/24/20
The fork isn’t just a tool for eating. It’s also one of the greatest symbols of individualism — a utensil that people opposed for thousands of years, and that only gained acceptance once we started thinking differently about ourselves. This is the story of how the fork shaped us. Get in touch! Web: pessimists.co Email: pessimistsarchive@gmail.com Twitter: twitter.com/pessimistsarc Instagram: instagram.com/pessimistsarc Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Published 08/27/20
Hear the most bizarre stories about how technology is shaping culture on Wild Wild Tech: https://link.chtbl.com/WWTThePessmists_Archive Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Published 08/05/20
Covid changed many people’s relationship with technology… so what comes next? We explore why technophobia always happens in cycles, how we misuse science in a way that amplifies fear, and what everyone will be concerned about in five to 10 years. Get in touch: Email: pessimistsarchive@gmail.com Web: www.pessimists.co twitter.com/pessimistsarc Instagram.com/pessimistsarc Thanks to our sponsors: BetterHelp.com/archive plume.com/pessimists
Published 07/30/20
Covid changed many people’s relationship with technology… so what comes next? We explore why technophobia always happens in cycles, how we misuse science in a way that amplifies fear, and what everyone will be concerned about in five to 10 years.  Get in touch: Email: pessimistsarchive@gmail.com Web: www.pessimists.co twitter.com/pessimistsarc  Instagram.com/pessimistsarc  Thanks to our sponsors:  BetterHelp.com/archive  plume.com/pessimists Learn more about your ad choices. Visit...
Published 07/30/20
What does it take for two different people to find common ground? To answer that, we dig into a nine-year-old mystery. In 2011, two very different guys shared a pair of earbuds on the New York City subway. A photo of them went viral multiple times … but who were they, and what were they really doing? All is revealed. Get in touch! Twitter/Instagram: @pessimistsarc Web: pessimists.co Email: pessimistsarchive@gmail.com Thanks to our sponsors: Betterhelp.com/archive Plume.com/pessimists
Published 06/25/20
People are refusing to wear masks during a pandemic. Why? To understand, we rewind to the “Anti-Mask League” of 1919 and to the opposition to seatbelt laws in the 1990s. Then we answer the big question: If people won’t listen to mandates, what *will* they listen to? Contact us! Twitter: twitter.com/pessimistsarc Web: pessimists.co Email: pessimistsarchive.com Thanks to our sponsors: Plume.com/pessimists Betterhelp.com/archive Hullopillow.com/pessimistsarchive
Published 05/28/20
Covid-19 has interrupted our world, but it's also likely to improve it. After all, history shows that massive disruption is followed by massive opportunity. So what’s in store for us now? In this episode, we learn the surprising consequences of past crises, explore the innovations that may come from Covid-19, and try to understand why disasters are so productive. Get in touch! Email: pessimistsarchive@gmail.com Website: pessimists.co Twitter: twitter.com/pessimistsarc Instagram:...
Published 04/30/20
Refrigerators are unnatural, unhealthy, and probably just a fad -- at least, that's according to the people who once sold ice. But the history of refrigeration actually raises some very real, very relevant questions: What's natural? How should innovation work? And why do some businesses guarantee their own failure?
Published 03/26/20
Published 03/26/20
Today, people complain about self-obsessed millennials. Yesterday, they complained about children celebrating their birthdays. When the birthday party became popular in the 19th century, people worried that it would corrupt community, spoil children, and contradict the bible. But the truth -- about why we celebrate our birthdays and ourselves -- is far more complicated. Get in touch! Twitter: twitter.com/pessimistsarc Web: pessimists.co Email: pessimistsarchive@gmail.com
Published 02/27/20
Do you suffer from automobile face? What about airplane face? Or moving-picture face? These are just some examples from a strange historical pattern: For more than a century, people have claimed that new technologies are physically deforming our faces -- and we still say it today. On this episode, we explore where this fear comes from, what it means, and what happens when the fear really does come true. Time to put on your podcast face! Get in touch: Twitter: @pessimistsarc Web:...
Published 01/23/20
Cute and cuddly, or a “horrible monstrosity” that’ll destroy humanity? In 1907, many people feared the worst—that this new toy would ruin young girls’ developing maternal instincts, and lead us to a terrible fate. This is the story of how the teddy bear changed us all… and how we then changed the bear. Get in touch! Twitter: @pessimistsarc Web: www.pessimists.co Email: pessimistsarchive@gmail.com
Published 12/05/19
Vanity was born when the mirror was discovered. That’s what the Chicago Record wrote in 1895, around the time when mirrors became a household item. People (and especially women) were condemned for looking in the mirror, and accused of being sinful. But then the mirror altered the way we think about vanity altogether—forever changing the way we look at ourselves. In this episode, we explore the history of the mirror, the history of vanity, and what it can teach us about today’s obsession over...
Published 10/24/19
As cities freak out over e-scooters today, it’s worth looking back at when these devices were actually new. Why did people love motorized scooters in 1915, what’s different a century later, and what does all of this have to do with roller skates? They’re big questions. And the answers just might lead us to rethink how our cities are designed.
Published 09/12/19
In the 1950s, America declared war on the comic book. People feared that they’d turn children into hardened criminals, and so opponents burned them in large piles, states banned them, and the U.S. Senate investigated their dangers. The man leading the charge was a psychologist named Fredric Wertham, whose research fueled people’s fears. In this episode, we take a close look at Wertham to ask: How does someone come to yield so much cultural influence? And how should the rest of us react? Get...
Published 07/25/19
The elevator has had a lot of ups and downs. (Sorry, sorry.) As the innovation gained popularity in the late 1800s, it had a profound effect on the way we organize our cities and ourselves. It was also blamed for a rise in crime, for causing something called brain fever, for destroying civil society, and more. On this episode of Pessimists Archive, we look at how the elevator shaped our world, why not everyone loved that, and what it has to teach us about the next big change. Because while...
Published 06/20/19
Kids! They’re lazy, narcissistic, and disrespectful -- or so says the older generation. But when you look back through history, you’ll discover that older generations have been saying a version of the same thing for thousands of years. Our question is: Why? And we found an answer. Get in touch: Twitter: @pessimistsarc Web: pessimists.co Email: pessimistsarchive@gmail.com
Published 05/15/19