Podcasts have just begun to boom in the last couple of years, becoming a culturally relevant source of information. If you are feeling particularly out of the loop in terms of current events, intellectual stimulation, or perhaps most importantly, community, then audio content might do just the trick. Even before the globe faced the COVID pandemic, podcasts were the perfect partner to busy lifestyles. According to Vulture, the famous podcast Serial has been downloaded more than 300 million times.  The form is related to radio, yes, but radio is broadcasted live and usually intended to suit a wide audience. Podcasts are often niche and adaptable – one may choose a prerecorded series about a specific topic and go through all of the episodes while cleaning house, or listen to one episode while taking a jog.  The consumption of this kind of information is irrefutably intimate – to listen to a carefully curated piece of storytelling in one’s ears is a deeply personal experience and likely exactly what the quarantined body needs right now. Listeners downloaded Serial millions of times, yes, but they also created a community of “amateur sleuths.” According to Forbes, true crime podcasts where journalists open up forgotten cases are particularly adept at encouraging social engagement. Serial listeners even fed some information to the host Sarah Koenig, who was able to move forward in her podcast thanks to the listeners’ community work. It is often said that we humans process information best through conversation. Podcasts are very of-the-moment, commenting on how current events shape our world. Listening to an exchange about mental health in quarantine can help us understand how other people are reckoning with the current moment and how we might fit into the conversation. For a sense of peace, introspection and community, listen to podcasts during this challenging time. Find recommendations below.
Especially for those who are highly sensitive people (HSP), the social isolation of quarantine and the overstimulation of constant news can send anyone deeper into anxiety. Psychology Today recommends actually finding a container for stressors rather than drowning them out. While podcasts, music, or other storytelling media can distract from pressure, entertainment only delays the inevitability of the problem. According to Vox, “decades of psychology research have taught us that trying to escape a distressing emotion is a bad long-term strategy; it teaches our brain that we can’t handle that emotion, and our distress actually grows more intense.” Being alone is terrifying; Vox reminds us that no matter our socializing preferences, humans are inherently social creatures and we have learned to walk together through life. Yet, distracting ourselves from feeling a biological reaction will not help. Far healthier is to embrace the current state of affairs, routine-building, and finding ways to maintain community.
Rejecting the premises
Aside from Serial, here are some recommendations to get started: Invisibilia – analysis of human behavior using science and narrative, hosted by Alix Spiegel and Hannah Rosin. Culture Call (from the Financial Times) – an investigation of our global popular culture in the 2020’s, hosted by Lilah Raptopoulos and Griselda Murray Brown.