Podcasts and connection

I love podcasts. Most times, if I have a lot of work to do and I just don’t want to do it I put in my earbuds and fire up a podcast and get super productive whilst not paying attention to anything other than what’s in my ears. I love This American Life and Serial, so when I saw S-Town* was coming up, I waited with anticipation until the podcast series dropped yesterday and had the most productive day at work EVER.

The whole series is only 7 chapters long, each about an hour in length, and I got through 4 chapters yesterday, then finished the remaining 3 chapters today.


I won’t give away any spoilers here, but I have BIG THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS about this story. I am heartbroken and curious and realize that all any of us really want in this world is connection, and most of us will do whatever we can to connect to somebody, anybody, who we think might understand us even just a little bit.

I also just yesterday finished Missing Richard Simmons, which is a podcast about how exercise guru Richard Simmons seemingly just up and walked away from his celebrity one day. This is a man who craved attention – so much so that when tour buses would come by his house, he would go outside and talk to the tourists and take pictures. He seemed to relish in the connections (some brief and some years-lasting) that he had with his fans and friends. So for someone like this to just abruptly give it all up was alarming to those who knew him. I won’t give away any spoilers here either, but in this case, it seems that Richard may have overdosed on connection. Or maybe he just realized that connecting superficially with thousands is not the same as having a deep, meaningful bond with only a few.

I think we all crave that thread of kinship that can run from one human being to another. There are so many ways to develop that bond: the old ways of writing pages and pages of letters, talking on the phone for hours, having weekly dinner parties, or getting together to play cards with friends are falling by the wayside (sadly, in my opinion) but now we have Facebook and texting, blogs and podcasts, and even Crossfit or Zumba classes are ways to connect with like-minded people. Even though it feels like a lot of our communicating these days is other than face to face, we still want to know that someone understands us, or at least wants to understand us.

After listening to these two podcasts in as many days, I came away with a feeling of sadness for the main players in these stories, but more appreciation for the few real relationships I have in my own life.

So…what should I listen to now? Recommendations are welcome!!

*S-Town is full of  “colorful” language and adult conversations – if you have sensitive ears, you may want to skip this one. Actually Missing Richard Simmons is too…so I don’t know, if you can get past the language, they are interesting stories, but I heard words I haven’t heard since I rode the bus in high school. Consider yourself warned. 


5 thoughts on “Podcasts and connection

  1. This American Life has every single show they have ever done listed on their website, think.

    My son and I listen to The Moth. It is similar style to ThisAmerLife. So you would probably like that too.

  2. How did I miss this post? I am a This American Life fan, and so looked forward to S-Town. Your post is so well written, and describes how I was feeling after listening to all of S-Town. I’ll have to check out the one about Richard Simmons.

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