The Power of a Podcast

Considering our society has become more technologically driven, it is important to recognize the impacts this standard of living has on consumers like myself. We are prone to spending long periods of time on our phones, and it is also a commonality to observe people scrolling through various feeds. These feeds, on platforms like Twitter and Instagram, are a perfect example of the interconnectedness of various social networks of people, but these interfaces also pose a couple of limitations to us.

 

More specifically, these feeds train us to scroll quickly among a plethora of blurbs written by a blend of people that we know, want to know, or know of. Most of us follow more than 100 people on at least one social media platform, yet our actual circle of friends is much smaller. On a basic level, social media can be seen as an innovative means for people to become informed about the lives, ideas, and experiences of others, but what this ultimately does is encourage individuals like myself is to devote our attention to many things at once. In other words, it is becoming scarce to spend an extended period of time focusing on one thing. How can we possibly be “in the loop” at all times if we seek to know everything about everyone on a regular basis?

 

Podcasts are a way for people to break free of this limitation; most podcasts feature at least one speaker and a guest that spend at least 30 minutes, and at most 3 or 4 hours speaking about whatever they deem relevant. Health experts, environmental experts, comedians, athletes, feminists...these are just some examples of the various individuals that host or are featured on podcasts. Personally, I have found that my knowledge of environmental issues and history has become stronger as a result of listening to podcasts. Listeners like myself are thus posed with the challenge of devoting our attention to more than just short blurbs of information.

Podcasts are a space to explore a range of topics in a natural, conversational format. These shows challenge listeners to become accustomed to listening to the same people speak for a long period of time. Most podcasts are also filmed and posted as videos, which gives viewers the opportunity to see the facial expressions and mannerisms of the speakers as they occur naturally. In this way, podcasts are raw and honest. Social media platforms, on the other hand, tend to be a space where people tailor messages extremely carefully, often presenting the “best version” of themselves or their ideas. There is nothing wrong with the careful tailoring of messages presented on social media platforms, but nevertheless, it is not as fluid as podcasts often are.

 

Ultimately, both modes of communication are useful for a multitude of reasons, but podcasts are a gentle reminder to humans that the quality of information often times triumphs the quantity of information being presented. These shows are a space for hosts and guests to come together and enlighten listeners on worldly matters, random anecdotes, and just about anything that exists within the human experience. In the world of podcasts, hosts exercise agency by discussing whatever they want, with whomever they want, under the conditions that they create for themselves. This agency gets lost within our feeds, where people face more pressure to post about what they believe others may want to see, versus what they genuinely want to put out into the world. With this in mind, it would be worth exploring the fascinating world of podcasts, and by extension, the relevant topics and thought-provoking questions these shows pose to listeners.