Have you ever listened to a podcast? There are countless hours of free audio entertainment & education available online, covering a huge variety of topics, & recorded by a smart and entertaining group of people. If you’ve never explored what is available in the world of podcasts, I think you’ll like what you find!
I can’t help but feel like I am wasting my time when I watch television. I absolutely can’t stand TV advertising, and channel surfing is a resignation that your free time is worth nothing, and you have no problem sacrificing the precious free moments in life to the whims of our consumer culture. Subscribing to and watching cable programming is a carefully veiled slavery – you’re brainwashed into following the norms of consumer society like a lemming, while the cable conglomerate further drains your wallet. I can’t claim to watch absolutely no television or film entertainment, but I make the conscious decision to only watch specific things on my own terms via streaming or borrowed media (netflix, public library, etc.). Every time I make the decision to sit down and actively watch something, I try and remember that my free time in life is a precious limited resource, and I want to make conscious decisions about how to use it. I think we are dangerously close to living completely empty lives in our society, entertaining and spending ourselves to death.
Because television requires a sedentary commitment to plant yourself in front of a screen, it’s more difficult to get valuable or necessary things done at the same time. Audio on the other hand, is a great way to engage your mind while you are otherwise committed physically. I am able to actively listen when driving, riding, doing yard work, cleaning up and accomplishing other chores, walking the dog, and basically any other activity that doesn’t require creative or complex thought. While it’s certainly healthy to have some quiet time to think and meditate in these moments as well, it is also a great opportunity to pipe some impactful audio to your ears.
Because I already allow myself the great luxury of carrying around a smartphone, I have all of the equipment I need to listen sitting in my pocket. Using an audio server on my home computer, and the matching streaming app on my phone, I can access any of the podcasts that I’ve pre-configured to download automatically.
Here are a few of my favorite podcasts:
- This American Life
- TED Radio Hour
- Stuff You Should Know
- The Moth Podcast
- Planet Money
- Freakonomics Radio
As you can see, some of my choices are mainstream radio programs presented as podcasts, and many of the choices are educational as well as entertaining. I am always on the lookout for new shows to give a listen, and I feel like I am just beginning to explore all of the detailed niche options available out there on the web. I am able to tailor my listening to fit my personality, avoiding things like news and pop culture, while soaking up storytelling, which I enjoy.
While it’s a bigger commitment, I sometimes also really enjoy listening to audiobooks. These are available for checkout at the library, and are sometimes free online. When they are produced well and read by the right person, an audiobook can be very enjoyable.
So, if you listen to podcasts, what’s on your list? Please let me know what I’m missing! If you don’t, why don’t you give one a listen, and let me know what you think?
[featured image: Ernest Duffoo]