Friday, May 11, 2018

How Giving Up Podcasts Has Changed My Life

I discovered podcasts in college. If I wasn’t doing anything in my room, before Netflix was common, podcasts were one of my primary forms of entertainment. I would turn one on and play a mindless game while listening to a conversation about whatever and who knows what. I’ve probably listened to over a thousand hours, which is maybe on the low side for some people. I even hosted a couple shows of my own for a while. Then, last year, it all stopped. I put away my headphones and turned off my microphone forever. Here’s how that has changed my life.

Why did I quit podcasts? After college, my then-girlfriend moved in and brought her Netflix account with her. Instead of sitting around with nothing but podcasts to entertainment, I started spending more time doing activities with her. Podcasting became something I only did on my commutes. I had a terrible job that took almost two hours of walking through the snow, sitting on a train, riding a bus, and crossing a bridge every morning and evening. Podcasts made that a little less terrible.

And then, I got a better job that was a bit easier to get to. I used to be able to listen to two full podcast episodes a day, but now I’d have to break a single episode up over two or maybe even three commutes. But I’ve honestly found something else I’d rather be doing

A couple years ago I picked up a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I’d only ever read the first four books, so I wanted to start over and finish the whole series. But I usually had too much going on at home, so I took it on the train with me instead. Obviously, I couldn’t read a book and listen to a podcast at the same time. I started reading more books and got into comics. Pretty soon I would alternate between a podcast one day and a book the other day, or listen to a podcast while walking and then turn it off and get my book out once I got on the train. But books always felt more rewarding. Most of the podcasts I listened too were just friends kinda hanging out and talking about pop culture. I’d laugh and have a good time, but books always felt like I actually completed something. And talking about books and comics creates way more conversations than talking about podcasts that only I seemed to be listening too.

I also quit being on podcasts. That was more about scheduling issues. The Power Rangers podcast I was on recorded well passed the new bedtime that came with my new job. The co-host of my Digimon podcast became too busy. The co-host of my second Digimon podcast didn’t exactly agree with me on what we should and should not talk about. And then blogging became a bigger, more rewarding project of mine. I have a lot more fun writing blog posts and making the occasional video than I do podcasting.

In the past year, I’ve read over a hundred books and comics on my commutes. I’ve even started setting time aside every few days to sit down and read at home. I’ve started having more conversations with friends in real life, rather than listening to others. Podcasting can be a very passive activity, so I’ve replaced that with some active ones. I feel like my time has been better spent and my mental health has improved. I quit podcasts and podcasting a year ago, and my life has been nothing but better.

Now, I’m not here totally knocking podcasts and saying they’re awful and everyone should quit too. There was a time in my life when podcasts helped me and made me happier than anything else. But that time is over for me. But if podcasts are your thing, here are some of the podcasts I’ve been missing and used to really love.

Chad Williams is the creator of popular web series Captain S. His brother Eric is a self-published novelist. For over five years they told weekly stories about their childhood and talked about recent pop culture news and releases. Comics, movies, anime, gaming, wrestling, family vacations, being fathers, nothing was off limits. They even went on a 30-minute rant about whether or not Christina Aguilera was good. After 300 episodes, Chad bowed out and left Eric to relaunch as Thunderdumps with their other brother Andrew. It was more or less the same thing, but now with an Irish accent.

I first got back into Power Rangers during the height of my podcast obsession. I’d listened to probably every major Power Rangers podcast at least a few times. The GRID was always my favorite. I loved it so much I stuck around even when they had really, really bad audio issues. It’s always sported five members and at most of them have always been super gay - which is my favorite kind of Power Rangers fan. Eventually, I joined the cast myself! I still pop in from time to time when there’s special episode. It’s always a good time.

A podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters hosted by real Hollywood screenwriters John August (Big Fish, Corpse Bride) and Craig Mazin (The Hangover sequels, Identity Thief). For many, this is the perfect free alternative to film school. Each episode they touched upon recent news in the world of writing while also discussing screenwriting craft and storytelling. I kinda floated away from filmmaking after graduation, but I always listened to Scriptnotes even if I went a full year without even thinking about making a movie.

Digimon Podcasts
I still pay an annual hosting fee just to keep The Digimon Rewatch up, but I never check the stats so I have no idea if anyone else is still listening. I am proud to say it was the first Digimon podcast of the current era where there are now like a million. My other favorites were Podigious and Lost in Translationmon, I still keep up with the main hosts of both. I also helped launch the With the Will podcast. I went on hiatus to plan my wedding and never went back. But it’s the only Digimon podcast that isn’t a rewatch and actually discusses recent news.

This one ended four years ago, but its content is still topical. Co-hosts Robin and Cordia introduced me to the spoiler-free Rewatch format that I reflected in my Digimon podcast. If you’ve never seen Buffy, watch it and listen along. They did a great job of incorporating listener feedback and developed some of their own recurring jokes as listeners continued to write in about a certain Season 2 episode all the way to the podcast’s end.

Are you podcast free too? How has that affected your life? What are some podcasts you’ve loved in your time?