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Podcasts: The unsung heroes of combating boredom during the pandemic

It feels as though everything has been the same for months. The world that we once lived in was full of anticipation for new movie releases, television series premieres, album drops and, let’s not forget, nerve-wracking new social interactions. While everyday life in the pandemic feels more and more like the new normal, it’s important to remember that, for the most part, the world of entertainment and media production has had its brakes on — except for podcasts, that is. In a time when social interaction is limited, and you may have already run out of shows to binge on Netflix and Hulu, getting into podcasts might just be the best choice you’ve made since Maine, and seemingly the world, shut down. 

While Variety details how Hollywood is frantically waiting for an unforeseeable end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rolling Stone reports that the music industry has also largely halted production. On top of the fact that large public gatherings are simply not an option right now, people are not engaging with music the way they were before the pandemic. As a result, our distractions are disappearing.  

However, there is an area of entertainment that has been booming in production over recent years: podcasts. And that production is something that hasn’t been slowed by the ongoing pandemic, as the Verge explains. In fact, Spotify has been dumping money into growing their podcast business. The company has seen the number of podcasts that people are listening to double during the pandemic.

Common criticisms come from people saying that they can’t find a good podcast, that they’re boring or that they don’t have the time. Some might say that they hear enough from people who think they know what they’re talking about, so they don’t want to elect to listen to that even more in their free time. However, in a pandemic, social interactions are sparse, alone time is abundant, and if you’re anything like me, you may have noticed that your mind has been wandering and you have gathered a slew of new interests since March. What better way to learn about those interests than to put on a podcast discussing them while you clean your room for the 15th time this week?

Before the pandemic, I didn’t think I would want someone talking in my ear when I’ve spent all day listening to people talk about their opinions. In spite of that, I have found that having a conversation to listen to and some interesting topics to learn about has filled a void I didn’t entirely realize existed. Podcasts fill my mind with faux social interactions, like I’m at lunch listening to two of my friends discuss a topic. Another major benefit is that podcasts are educational. Whether driving, running, cleaning or cooking, you have an opportunity to learn — whether it be about current celebrity gossip or conflicts in the Middle East. Listening to podcasts is like inserting an article directly into your brain; whether it’s an opinion article, hard news or a feature story, you can get this content without having to sit down and pause everything else. 

Podcasts grant new and fun information, all the while keeping us distracted from the impending boredom brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This distraction is very important for our mental health and productive action, says James Danckert, co-author of “Out of My Skull: The Psychology of Boredom.” While classes have brought on more tasks and challenges for college students, that does not mean a decrease in boredom. Danckert explains that being busy with work and tasks during the pandemic is not necessarily going to combat boredom; he suggests instead involving yourself in new meaningful tasks and thoughts. What better and more entertaining way to do this than through a podcast? 

In summation: try out a podcast. Try out a few. They’re often free, they’re entertaining and you might just find yourself hooked. You can access them through your Apple product’s podcast feature, Spotify, Google Podcast or oftentimes on the podcast’s personal website. If you’re looking to further support the Maine Campus, we also have a podcast called “Anecdote” that is available online. If you’re stumped about what kind of podcast you want, chances are you can google a few ideas and find what you’re looking for. There are blogs upon blogs of people sharing their favorites, and with thousands of options, it’s hard to believe that there isn’t at least one podcast for everyone. 

If you haven’t yet hopped on the podcast bandwagon, I suggest you do it soon, for the sake of your sanity.

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