Expanding your mindset through podcasts

Graphic by Alan Li

My relationship with the ever-expanding phenomenon of podcasting has thus far been defined by me seeking out and voraciously downloading programs which speak to my specific interests – ones that more or less already aligned with my worldview.

With a seemingly infinite number of hosts producing content around an equally infinite number of topics, it’s only natural for us as listeners to pick and choose what directly speaks to us for our listening pleasure. This is why my phone at any given time could have its storage filled with hours of film related podcasts like We Hate Movies, You Must Remember This and The Projection Booth because they were about something I thought I knew and could enjoy leisurely.

I have recently come to see this attitude towards podcasts as one that is limited in a way which, unfortunately, isolated me from much of the great work being done in this continually developing field.

With subjects as diverse as they are and the convenience of free, easy-to-download content accessible through one’s phone, it’s become unfathomable to me why I haven’t taken greater advantage of the potential for horizon-broadening here. At my fingertips sits thousands of hours of experts engaging in discourse I’ve never been motivated to pursue, yet here I was listening to another critic heap praise onto The Godfather.

It started with the popular Pod Save America, which introduced me to the nuances of American politics in a format that I could handle on my own time. This interest expanded to include shows like The Guilty Feminist, which deconstructed the ideals of the movement with humour and humility as well as Myths and Legends, which offers refreshers on classical history courses regarding folktales.

Podcasts are quickly becoming my way of getting caught up with the cultural conversation around any topic I can’t find the time to read up on. The format in its packaging of digestible and accessible content have made it ideal for this purpose.

Obviously, leaving a comfort zone is no easy task and only gets harder once it involves a service I was drawn to for its unmistakable convenience. As I’ve come to see it, podcasts should not be about finding shows that speak directly to you, but sampling the widest possible number of voices out there. It’s an opportunity to broaden your horizons on your own terms, whether it’s on your commute, exercising or what have you.

It may not always work, as my personal falling outs with the likes of Chapo Trap House and Blank Check can attest to, but with podcasting being as diverse as it is, one cannot afford to miss out on the wealth of content and info being recorded and published daily.

What was once something to I used kill time on the commutes to and from work has now becoming something I appreciate to be personal education for my own benefit. Rather than safely clinging to my wheelhouse, podcasts force me to take advantage of and see what exactly it is that I’m missing.

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