One of the most life-changing habits I began this year is consistently listening to podcasts. In the past, I never really understood what podcasts were. I had subscribed to a few podcasts, but never expanded outwards.
However, as I’ve slowly listened to more creators, I've realized how diverse and informative podcasts can be. More importantly, podcasts have expanded what I deem possible, for several reasons.
Fundamentally, podcasts are long-form audio discussions. There are several categories of podcasts, ranging from casual conversations to interviews.
What separates podcasts from other forms of media is their ability to explore deep topics. Nowadays, most media is getting shorter and shorter. We live in an attention economy, so as time goes on people's ability to focus degrades. This means that mainstream media has become bite-sized and flashy, built to accommodate the dwindling attention span of its viewers.
Just look at TikTok. It's wildly successful, and its entire platform is based off of extremely short form videos.
Podcasts are the opposite of short form media. Podcasts are actually growing in length, sometimes lasting 3-4 hours long. This medium allows the creator to explore topics in much more detail than they otherwise would be able to.
One example of this advantage is within politics. Most of the time, people hear politicians speak in short 1-2 minute segments within debates. This time restriction doesn’t allow for any nuance in their ideas.
However, in the past, politicians used to speak for hours. When President Lincoln was campaigning for office, he’d travel from town to town, and speak to locals for hours at a time.
This is the advantage of making use of podcasts in politics. When politicians go on long-form podcasts, it allows the people to understand their entire platform from the ground up.
Last year, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was a guest on The Joe Rogan Experience where he discussed his ideas for over an hour:
In the past, people got most of their information from the community around them. This was beneficial, because most people were preparing to take up roles in their local area.
This is especially impactful when considering potential careers. When I was a kid, most of the adults I came in contact with were either doctors or engineers. This meant that those were the only realistic career choices that I could think of. I had never been around a majority of people pursuing other disciplines, so I never would have decided to do anything else.
However, the internet has completely revolutionized the reach of information.
The best way to expose yourself to new ideas is to listen to many unique podcasts. Because podcasts are long form, they are built primarily for the transfer of ideas.
This means that podcasts are perfect for expanding what you deem possible. Starting a business used to seem like this foreign thing that some people in Silicon Valley could do. However, after listening to a ton of entrepreneurship podcasts, I've started to wonder why everyone doesn't start a company.
The best thing about podcasts is that the casual nature normalizes whatever the hosts talk about. If they discuss wildlife, then after a while it will seem completely obvious why people love to spend time in nature.
This effect takes place with any genre of podcast. If you want to start exercising more, listen to several health and fitness podcasts. After a few months, it will seem extremely odd to not go to the gym every day.
This is why everyone should be listening to a set of podcasts. Podcasts expand what you deem possible, by creating a diverse digital community that you become a part of.
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