Written by: Marshall McCready
The online experience has become unmistakably messy and chaotic as it is almost impossible to visit a webpage without being barraged by clickbait and targeted advertisements. Much of the content on social media now has been carefully crafted for quick and easy consumption. Depth, nuance, and complexity have become dying breeds. Although “clickbait culture” has been on the rise due to increased consumer demand for mindlessness, its growth has paradoxically created new market of people who crave serious and more intellectual media. Podcasts, a source of thought provoking content concerning a wide variety of topics, serve to fill this market and have become especially popular with those in the millennial generation.
The hunger for tangibility drives the growing numbers of podcast downloads: tangible advice, tangible arguments, tangible debates, etc. Many podcasters, whose episodes can often last an hour or even a couple
hours, do not shy away from diving into more meaningful territory concerning life or business or politics or whatever it may be. While Twitter feeds illustrate the number of baseless claims that can be made in 140 characters and Facebook newsfeeds unrelentingly deliver ignorant rants and over-simplistic meme-based arguments, podcasts bring nuance, personal experience, and cohesiveness to the table. Podcasters, who by definition speak through a publically accessible medium, are encouraged to present interesting, relevant, and thoughtful material to their audiences by the fact that their name is attached to their words. It is this relatable personal element that makes podcasts special. It is often considerably more meaningful to hear from a first person perspective how something affected someone or how someone personally derived their thoughts on a certain subject than to simply sift through information online. One can read all day how to be successful or why one position is better than another, but it is a different experience entirely to actually hear from someone successful or listen to a debate between intellectually engaged and informed individuals.
Hopefully, the increase in podcasts’ popularity represents a growing counter culture defined by an interest in depth and a focus on intellectual honesty, but whether that is the case remains to be seen. For now, podcasts fill an important need for millennials, who read less books and consume more social media, for tangible, personal content.