I’m kind of lonely. Initially this was largely a matter of choice; even though I am comfortable around other people, often have few issues talking to strangers, and have never gone out of my way to avoid others in a last-second panic or any such situation the truth is I enjoy my own company. Quite a lot, in fact. My preferred environment with friends does not involve a room full of people or more than just a few people at that; once I get past about five or six people the situation becomes much less enjoyable, specifically with regard to actually spending quality time with my friends. The result of all of this being I now find myself somewhat detached from what is considered regular contact with other people and frankly it has been disconcerting to suddenly realise I haven’t had a face-to-face conversation with another person outside of my family for, well, longer than I can even remember right now.
So I’m definitely lonely. It’s not as bad as it might be, all things considered, and there are certainly other people for whom this is a serious problem; I’m not going to pretend I have such a deep problem but it’s still there, tapping me at the back of my head on an increasingly regular basis as of late. I guess that’s middle age calling to say hello?
One of the big reasons as to why this has not become a serious problem and an issue I have become willing to tackle head-on is, simply, podcasts.
There are hours and hours and hours… and hours of conversations between all kinds of people, in different contexts, from years into the recent past and more available with each passing week. They are there, all thanks to podcasts – and of course, mostly thanks to RSS – just waiting to be picked up, and whichever app you choose it is one of the most friction free media consumption experiences available across the whole of the web. Podcasts are fantastic, a whole world of people’s lives into which you can lose yourself, or even simply dip your toe for a limited experience.
The breadth of shows available can feel overwhelming but once you get started it soon becomes apparent all this means is that you are going to find something you enjoy, often more than one thing and in different ways, thus offering at least a partial answer to loneliness; companionship. To be in the presence of others in a manner that is both immediate and distant is tantalising to those of us for whom “simply talking to people” is either difficult or simply not enough; no amount of small talk will make me your friend, nor you mine. Before you know it, you can see the seemingly innumerable supply of podcasts as a number of potential balms to soothe whatever aches your heart on any given day and that is a wonderful feeling to experience.
When considering this idea, this potential… this entire world all of its own there is a temptation to think of this as a bad idea; a distraction from The Real World like much of the rest of the web. Whilst there is some truth to this it is also important to consider that there have been distractions from the world available to us for a long time, much longer in fact than many who would criticise the culture of our modern day care to admit; doing so presents an obvious hole in their reasoning, if we assume the attacks are as shallow as the most popular opinions so often tend to be. As such podcasts could be considered as simply another choice for people to make, a different act to take from the ever-growing list in the modern media-driven world within which we live.
There is no doubt that feeling lonely is not an illness, not always a bad thing, and certainly not a social ill endangering humanity but it certainly can make life much more difficult to live; to be within reach of the rest of the world and yet feel entirely alone is a conflict with which many people are unlikely prepared to wrangle. To ease that difficulty is no small things and I have found podcasts can greatly aide in this task to a degree that much of the rest of the web cannot come close. And for that, for giving me at least the beginnings of a path away from such strange solitude I am forever grateful to those who make this type of media possible. For that, I can only say…
Podcasts are awesome.