Is it possible to listen to too many podcasts?

Words by Hannah Cole

Illustration by Twylamae

Can you have too much of a good thing?

I am what some might call, a podcast fiend. Loose definition: a devotee to the downloading, subscribing and consuming of digital audio files via podcasts. The World Health Organisation recently announced “gaming disorder” as an authentic issue, but they clearly haven’t yet considered the addictive consumption of podcasts.

Not a day goes by where podcasts are absent; I must remember to download the latest episode (saving precious data) and frequently uncover new listening options.

My near-daily routine is as follows:

  • Catch up on yesterday’s news with Triple J’s Hack as I walk to the gym
  • Ponder the latest buzz topics and life questions with The High Low as I dully commute
  • Engage in a long distant (unrequited) friendship with Call Your Girlfriend as I walk to Coles on my lunch break
  • Get my feminism (and legitimate LOL) fix with The Guilty Feminist as I travel back home
  • Practice my French accent as I listen to Garance Dore’s Pardon My French while cooking/washing/adulting

It’s a lot. And that’s just scraping the surface of my bulging podcast library (currently hitting the 50 mark).   

All this listening leads to some wondering: Do podcasts make me a better person? And is it possible for one to over-consume in the aural-sphere?

I would argue that my listening, if not making me a better person per se, is at least making me a *better*-rounded individual. Oh, the things I have learned! I never thought I would know or care so much about American politics. I’ve discovered that Pizza Hut was once the largest purchaser of kale before all our health kicks started. I know things; I might even be great at pub trivia.

But, according to Michael Grabowski, a professor of communication at Manhattan College, all this listening could quickly go to waste. Without pressing pause between episodes, I could be doing my brain a disservice. “We need to be able to let the mind wander without consuming content in order to be able to absorb the data,” he told The Cut late last year. Only then will it lead to knowledge and, as he put it, “finally wisdom”.

Podcasts are not the only form of media I so ravenously delve into. I am a daily user of Feedly to save, store and catch up on *all* the news (the latest celeb engagement, birth or death). I’m a self-confessed magazine hoarder, keeping the print industry alive (#longliveprint). In Episode 62 of The High Low, Pandora Sykes had me nodding my head aggressively in agreement: “I feel like I have to read all of it, listen to all of it, do all of it.” While I may bear the costs of over-stimulation at times (speed reading, incessant bookmarking, never sitting still), at least I am in good company.

Maybe nothing will stop my constant scrolling, saving, reading, listening, engaging and learning. But I will take Gallant’s words to heart: instead of filling every quiet moment with the next episode, I’ll pause, reflect, ponder. Before hitting play and re-connecting with all my auditory friends.

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