Podcast Junkie: Listening VS Looking

listen

So maybe it’s not the best idea for me to listen to emotionally compelling podcasts during lunch because I tend to get very emotional and weepy when I learn about other people’s breakthroughs, especially when I can so closely relate or am deeply fascinated with the particular phenomena being discussed. But I can’t always tell how a podcast show will affect me and that’s part of why I like the ones I’m discovering so much.

I love taking in information through audio because it allows me to feel in a different way than when I am bombarded by imagery. Now you know I love imagery but podcasts have started to fill just as significant a space in my life as film and television media. This is partially because I can take them anywhere with me, listen to then any time and partially because people communicate differently when their means of communication is intended primarily for audio. I have yet to listen to any fictional podcasts. I just listen to people discussing topics and telling their own stories and I have to say that most of the time it really shifts the way in which I look at life and at people. But I suppose that has as much to do with the podcasts I choose to listen to than anything.

“Girl on Guy” with Aisha Tyler has recently become a fast favorite. I was never sure what to make of Aisha Tyler, a tall, beautiful Black  comedienne, the only Black Cast member “Friends” ever had, the voice of a sexy looking, snarky agent on “Archer.” I think I always thought she was too something to be funny. Too pretty…too feminine? No matter what I think, I tend to have predominantly white and or male expectations of comedy because it is literally over run with the two. And I mean Aisha is not funny looking at all. I mean that literally. Looking at Tracee Ellis Ross when she’s being funny in a still photograph makes me laugh. Tracee has a very unique combination of glam and comic going on. Looking at Aisha Tyler does not incite laughter for me.

But listening to “Guy on Girl” I find that Aisha Tyler is more than just funny. She’s emotionally generous, giving, supportive and sensitive to her fans. Sitting with people for anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour talking and listening is not something a lot of people commit to on a whim. Although the podcasts I enjoy often have an interview format, the hosts I prefer thrive on letting the discussion meander off topic occasionally and not being restricted to a set of pre-authorized questions.  I  have decided that there is a very special talent involved in it, which requires both a presence of mind (and I can tell when someone is really there, particularly over the phone) and a genuine interest in human story. It’s rare. But when it’s real, it’s real and I find it addictive to listen to.

Yesterday I was scrolling around my podcast app at lunch when I came upon an NPR segment called “Invisibilia,” Latin for “All the invisible things,” a podcast which is described as being about “invisible forces that control human behavior.” This episode, which it turns out was the first in the series is called “The Secret History of Thoughts.” I found the study which was composed of anonymously shared stories to be disturbing, fascinating, heart breaking and hope giving. I can never anticipate what I will discover when I go looking for an interesting podcast but most of the time, it’s pretty amazing, inspiring and empowering for me. But then that is what I look for. So that’s what I find. I was obsessed with Ted Talks in this same way for a while last year. OOOOHH Ted Talks! They made me feel so smart! LOL!! I still love them. With podcasts I just get to use a different part of my being to “see” and engage without the conditioned reflexive pressure of comparison and judgement that often comes with “looking.”

I’m all about that.

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