Tag Archives: podcasts

24-Hour Snooze Cycle

The very real danger that comes with access to a constant barrage of manipulative, anger-stoking news is a perennial sense of dread, despair, and hopelessness. A ceaseless ticker that continuously prophesies the end of the world as we know it fosters a population inundated with misinformation and stuck inside an oxygen-deprived sustained sense of angst. Frozen in fear, waiting for the other shoe to fall, or boiling with rage, ready to wage war on the other side, are equally detrimental emotional states.

When ratings rely on glued eyeballs to support inflated ad budgets, there is a hefty premium and a priority placed on one thing: force-feeding content until our stomachs explode and then convincing us we’re still starving.

The worst abusers of that revenue model are FOX, CNN, and MSNBC. This is not vetted, hard-hitting journalism. It’s entertainment. It’s pro wrestling masquerading as essential information. But when fingers full of advertising dollars are pushing the buttons and pulling the levers, nothing is fair. Nothing is balanced. Everything is not breaking news.

The most detrimental, divisive force in the history of this country has been the advent and adoption of the 24-hour news cycle.

A society that leaned on the nightly news for an unbiased, agenda-free presentation of the day’s events now happily suckles at the teat of major multibillion-dollar monsters intent on keeping us just outraged enough to continue watching.

Luckily, real news still exists. But it’s getting increasingly difficult to find. There is an abundance of deep-dive, well-researched investigative pieces waiting for open ears in the podcast world, but not everyone spends the majority of their time streaming endless hours of audio content the way I tend to do, so sometimes that’s a tough ask.

Reading posted online articles is another way of filtering out blatant advertising exploitation by adopting a simple subscription model. But again, heavy lifting is not the default setting for most Americans…and reading, unfortunately, takes an even more distant backseat.

So we’re left with sloping, albatross-laden necks, twisted and bent from our own poor planning and lack of foresight. Unfortunately, easy, accessible, and unremittingly present cable news is a dirty dragon that seems to continue finding new ways to escape the slay.

The best we can do is keep our swords sharp and wait for a window.

Adolescence Interrupted

Open Ears, Open Hearts

The capacity to trade passive hearing for active genuine listening is a wildly underrated and undervalued ability.

With phones, pods, or buds permanently glued to our auditory entryways, blocking out the world in favor of a steady stream of specifically curated inputs has become much more the rule than the exception.

As a raging podcast addict, I’m as guilty as the next inmate. Any finger-wagging admonition might feel loaded coming from someone constantly and currently plugged into the matrix. Like a junkie peddling his own product, there is blatant hypocrisy in the message. That irony is not lost on me.

But when we take the time to hit pause on the endless barrage of information or static distractions being shoveled into our temporal lobes, we free up available space for someone desperately in need of an open ear and an open heart.

I can’t downplay the importance of answering when that person is calling. As merely a metaphor, it is sage advice. As emphatic instruction, a small simple gesture can prevent a misaligned balance of labored breathing from spiraling into desperate gasps at the waterline. Our actions can quite literally lift the stones from the shoes of the sinking.

Without bias or judgment, those in our lives who sit at the top of our respective totem poles deserve the best we can offer, even (and especially) when our packs are already weighty with worry or their own miscellaneous rock collection.

Patience. Purpose. Compassion. Consideration. Empathy. Encouragement.

The best-fitting pieces of the puzzle should eventually paint a picture of balance…as long as we arrange them accordingly.

Adolescence Interrupted

There Are Voices In My Apartment

dj2Having been raised by a single mother, with no siblings wrestling for attention or screaming to be noticed, I became quite accustomed to the sanctity of silence. I could sit on the floor, lost in isolated make believe, organizing my action figures and creating layered scenarios for their roles in my narrative. There was very little interruption, and as a result, I became fairly comfortable wearing my own skin.

These patterns continued for most of my life. I slid into the safety of a quiet, dark room, and I found I was most productive and clear when the rest of the world disappeared into sleep. All the static of the day seemed to melt beneath the sound of a steady hum. I found keyboards and computer screens, books and balance.

But, for the last decade, a new variety of brain food has worked its way onto my plate. I fear I have become addicted to podcasts.

Now, I’m not actively seeking an intervention. I don’t think it’s quite at that point. But the sounds of endless interviews, medical information, human interest stories, comedic discourse, public radio pieces, fitness advice, and pop culture references have permeated my living space to the point of lunacy.

This isn’t entirely harmful. I’ve got a hungry head, and it needs its snacks. But, floating on a comfort cloud of strangers’ voices can do a pretty great job of bamboozling you into thinking there’s more than one cook in the kitchen. It’s like a big, fat audio comfort blanket, and I’m swaddled like a preemie on the prairie.

So, I will continue to walk into that dark unknown, ears open and mind alert. But, be prepared for some lengthy conversations when our paths finally cross. I’ve logged a lot of listening hours, and I’ve got some things to share.