It started off as an awesome addiction to public radio.  I could listen all day and night, and never want to turn it off.  I’m fortunate that we have one of the best public radio stations in the country, right here in Austin.  The shows they broadcast, and the way they’ve lined them up, is perfect for me.

I especially enjoyed it in 2013 – 2015, when I’d go out with my doggie Sophie Sue, to photograph sunsets.  I’d let her snuffle around, I’d take photos, and I’d have the radio playing in the background.  Sometimes I’d be out there for hours, listening to one show after another, enjoying the air and her company.

If something resonated with me, I’d make an Evernote to download the podcast version, so I could re-listen to it, and write about, or think more about, whatever resonated with me.

Most of the time, though, I didn’t re-listen, because I was always too busy listening to the next current broadcast (and making more Evernotes).

During the recent election season, I became nearly obsessed with political news. I was constantly listening to, reading, researching, and communicating about it.  I wanted to be as informed as possible, and I wanted to share what I was learning.  Because I was so focused on the political news, I didn’t have time to listen to many of the radio shows I typically listened to.  I also lost Sophie Sue at the end of last year, so I haven’t gone out as often shooting sunsets.  When I was still listening to the radio, it was typically during news hour times, and that was largely dominated with political news.

Also, like so many others, I began experiencing an unprecedented level of anxiety from the discord in this country and even in my own social circles.  I knew I couldn’t continue to engage in that, if I wanted to stay healthy and optimistic.

Because of the detriment, without benefit, I made a decision a few weeks ago, at least for now, to step back from being absorbed in my news habit.

I strongly believe to be well-informed, and to be a deserving citizen of this country, I don’t have the luxury of permanently disconnecting from it, hoping others will do the work.  But I am still wrapping up some personal and professional transitions, and I want to be tackle those from an energetic, hopeful, positive baseline.  My constant connection and an inability to avoid feeling impacted and anxious from what was going on nationally weren’t supporting those goals.  And without having my own life where I want it to be, I’m not going to be able to effectively impact anything in the larger environment anyway.

It was pretty odd to turn everything off all at once.   I am still seeing headlines here and there, and my friends are still talking about things in social media.  But I’m not clicking, I’m not diving in, I’m not obsessing.

Within a few days of backing away from all this, I noticed I had more energy.  I also started making significant progress on some important life items.  And best of all, my hope for humanity and my belief that I have something to contribute started coming back.

Instead of wanting to crawl in a hole, I wanted to socialize again.  I signed up on a volunteer matching website, and started reaching out to organizations offering volunteer opportunities.  I’ve also started applying for interesting positions at companies I’d be proud

And I’m focusing on learning new skills and hobbies, one of which happens to be radio and podcast production. 🙂

And all those podcasts?  Well, I haven’t gone back to that huge list of previously noted episodes. BUT, I’ve subscribed to them so I can listen to their new episodes.  And I’ve found some new ones I’m pretty excited about.

Now, when I have spare time, or I’m doing something mindless, or I’m in my car, I’m listening to a podcast.  I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now, and it’s been wonderfully mind-bending!  I’m inspired, I’m in awe, I’ve learned quite a bit, and I’ve been immensely entertained.

And even though I’m not connected to the political news directly, several of the podcasts have in-depth discussions about inter-related social and humanitarian issues.

The truth is, my primary interest isn’t really politics in the first place.  I’m interested in humanity: social connection, communication, conflict resolution, choice, categorization behaviors, motivation.  In other words, I’m interested in anthropology, psychology and sociology.  Politics are just a part of that.

I have some strong opinions about the hidden causes of many of the visible effects in our society, our interactions, and our leadership right now.  I truly believe the solutions that will move us forward are going to be found in the understanding of others and changing of ourselves, and not by helplessly consuming media and battling each other.

Many of the podcasts I’m listening to now are helping me think on a deeper level about what’s going on. Instead of listening to every horrifying news tidbit, I’m listening to discussions about the underlying aspects of them, which to me, are timeless.

And as it turns out, focusing on those things lines up perfectly with what I’m passionate about, and how I want to contribute to humanity, without cutting me off completely from the society and people I care so deeply about.

As an aside, I am immensely grateful to the people who’ve followed their passions and created these podcasts.  I’m also in awe of and deeply grateful to the people who’ve also followed their passions, and in some cases, obsessions, to the extent that they’ve ended up as subject matter experts on these podcasts.

I’d originally intended to just post a list of podcasts I’ve been listening to, but as you can see from above, it went in a slightly deeper direction than that.  Thank you for taking the time to read it, though!

In case you’re interested, here’s a list of the podcasts to which I’m currently subscribed.  Ones I’ve already started listening to, or have previously listened to, are bolded.

  • 1A
  • 99% Invisible
  • All Songs Considered
  • Anna Faris is Unqualified
  • The Art of Charm | Social Science | Cognitive Psychology
  • The Big Listen
  • The Brilliant Idiots
  • Bullseye with Jesse Thorn
  • Chomsky Audio Library
  • Civics 101
  • Cognitive Dissonance
  • Crime Writers On…
  • The Dave Ramsey Show
  • Death, Sex & Money
  • Design Matters with Debbie Millman
  • The Dinner Party Download
  • Don’t Keep Your Day Job
  • Evernote Blog
  • The Fall of Rome Podcast
  • Flash Forward
  • Freakonomics Radio
  • Fresh Air
  • From Scratch: NPR
  • Happier with Gretchen Rubin
  • Hearing Voices Podcast: Meditation, Higher Consciousness
  • Hidden Brain
  • The Hilarious World of Depression
  • How I Built This
  • Humankind on Public Radio
  • In Our Time: Science
  • In The Dark
  • Invisibilia
  • Kristi Lee Uninterrupted
  • Late Night with Seth Meyers
  • Limetown
  • Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly
  • Mashtalk
  • Monday Morning Podcast
  • The Moth Podcast
  • The Nerdist
  • Note to Self
  • On Being with Krista Tippett
  • On the Media
  • Planet Money
  • Pod Save America
  • Radical Candor
  • Radiolab
  • Radiolab Presents: More Perfect
  • Reply All
  • Reveal
  • Revisionist History
  • Science Friday
  • Secrets, Crime & Audiotape
  • Serial
  • Shopify Masters
  • Side Hustle School
  • Slate Money
  • Snap Judgment
  • Someone Knows Something
  • StartUp Podcast
  • Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen
  • Stuff You Should Know
  • Suspect Convictions
  • TED Radio Hour
  • TEDTalks (audio)
  • Terrible, Thanks for Asking
  • The Really Big Questions
  • The Tim Ferris Show
  • This American Life
  • Today We Learned
  • Track Changes
  • True Crime and Mysteries
  • UPWIRE: Hacking Human Nature
  • Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me
  • Waking up with Sam Harris
  • The Way I Heard it With Mike Rowe
  • Welcome to Night Vale
  • Why Oh Why
  • Wits – APM Podcasts
  • The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor
  • The Writers Panel
  • You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes

I’ve also got several other blog posts started to share how specific episodes of some of these have impacted me recently.  I’m also about to test out a few other podcast apps on my iPhone, because the native player hasn’t got some features I’m interested in having.  If you’d like to be notified when those posts go live, I hope you’ll subscribe to this blog.

Your turn!  If you listen to a podcast, and it’s not on this list, I’d really love to know about it!  Or if there’s a particular episode of one of these that I shouldn’t miss, will you share?

(UPDATE: Podcasts in italics were added to this post on 2017.02.06.)

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