Is it just me, or do you really hate the internet sometimes?
Don't get me wrong, I don't know what I'd do without it. I organise my life on Facebook, I stream 90% of my music through Spotify, and of course no internet means no Overwatch!
But I'm sure you've had some not-so-great experiences: You finish reading an interesting article, whether it be Buzzfeed, the Onion or something a little more high-brow, and you decide to have a look at the comments section. Surely your peers will have some enlightening comments on what you've just read?
No? Just people yelling at each other? Penning essays of drivel with no evidence to back up your point, just to one-up this stranger who's rubbed you up the wrong way? Ah well...
Okay, this doesn't happen all the time, but it seems that intelligent discourse on the web is getting harder and harder to find. This is why I love podcasts. I'm sure most of you reading this already know and love the world of podcasts, and don't need any encouragement to enter this wonderful world. But for the rest of you, here's my case:
First of all, podcasts are free to anyone with an internet connection, something that few legitimate entertainment providers can claim these days. Download a good podcast app and you immediately have every single podcast out there at your fingertips.
Variety is another positive: hobbies, interests, genres - any corner of culture you can think of, there's probably a podcast for it. Want to explore Gilmore Girls in thematic detail? Then Gilmore Guys is the one for you. Are you a glutton for trivia? Well how about Tell Me Something I don't Know? Or maybe you're more of a storyteller, in which case I can heartily recommend horror-narrative podcast The Magnus Archives. You get the idea; the sky really is the limit.
Practically, they are a godsend - I don't like leaving my data on when I'm not using it, so I make sure there are a few podcasts downloaded on my phone before I leave the house. But my favourite thing about podcasts is the intelligence they bring to the internet. People who make podcasts, for the most part, are not those launching drivel after diatribe at others in the comments section. These are people who see the world for the complicated, fascinating place it is and, in their own small ways, attempt to show those complexities to the world at large. It's admirable, it's entertaining, and it's more important than ever in a world of fake news and sensationalist media.
Please give podcasts a go. You won't regret it.
As a starting point, here's a list of my current podcast subscriptions:
This American Life (Very well-researched magazine show)
The West Wing Weekly (An episode-by-episode look back on The West Wing)
Freakonomics Radio (Much more interesting than it sounds at first)
Welcome to Night Vale (A fictional radio show set in a mysterious desert town)
Answer Me This (A British classic, hilarious and informative)
Rusty Quill Gaming (D&D for your ears!)
My Dad Wrote a Porno (Exactly what it says on the tin - you will cringe and cry with laughter)
Song Exploder (Detailed analysis of modern music, really well made)
S-Town (An intriguing investigation into a mysterious death in small-town Alabama)