A reminder that you’re still valid if you’re not into podcasts

Illustration of headphones emitting flowers, while plugged into a phone playing a podcast.
Olivia Staser/File

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been suggested a podcast or asked if I’ve watched _____ (insert podcast that everyone’s heard here). I always look down in shame and laugh it away with a “No, I haven’t, I’ll add it to my growing list, ha-ha.” Then, I find a way to promptly end the conversation and leave because I can’t bear the embarrassment of not being in on the podcast trend, no matter how hard I’ve tried. 

Of course, I’m just joking here, but it’s worthwhile to think about both the pros and cons to a trending movement of this type of media. Podcasts are good for learning things about niche topics. If the hosts have a good dynamic, naturally comedic dialogue or soothing voices, podcasts make it easy to consume information without the stress of studying it for an upcoming test. Podcasts are also good if you like watching videos or TV while doing other activities, as you don’t have to worry about missing the visuals in the video while you’re preoccupied — all you have to do is listen! 

In theory, these advantages sound perfect for a below-average multitasker like me who is thirsty for information I’m not obligated to know. In practice, though, I cannot get into podcasts no matter how hard I try. They’re simply not meant for me, and it can all be tied back to one central reason: I’m a visual learner. 

At this point, I’ve accepted that I won’t fall in love with podcasts as much as everyone around me has. But that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me — I have justified reasons for my disdain for podcasts. I’ve already mentioned that being a visual learner makes it hard for me to stay tuned in to a podcast. For example, if one of my professors lectures without a slideshow, or if I’m not taking notes to supplement the lecture, I find it very difficult to absorb the information. A few words on the screen or an animated visual brings all the life necessary to help my brain absorb the information presented. Since a podcast is essentially a lecture with no visuals, it’ll have to be a no for me.

In case being a visual learner wasn’t enough, another reason podcasts don’t work for me is that I get really carsick if I’m listening to people speaking while I’m driving or moving. I don’t know why, and I don’t know if this is a common phenomenon. I noticed this when I was a kid and it’s still a problem, so I can only listen to music when I’m driving or working out. Therefore, even if I wanted to multitask while listening to a podcast, it would literally make me sick. 

This isn’t to mention that, sometimes, podcasts are slow, too. I hate to embrace our common culture of instant gratification, but I cannot sit through one to two hours of someone talking. I mean, I do this for school, but that’s only because I have to. If I have free time, I’m not going to spend it going through the same motions I do in class, no offense. I’d prefer a more interactive way to learn. 

Whether you dislike or love the podcast fad, we can all agree that having these relatively accessible ways to consume information is awesome. But I’m here to remind you that it’s okay if you have yet to find yourself listening to podcasts to fill all your free time, and it’s okay if that never becomes your reality. I, for one, will be patiently waiting for the next fad, hopefully one that’s suited for motion sick, somewhat impatient visual learners!

Contact Özge Terzioğlu at [email protected].