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Silly Sites of Discussion in a Time of Pretentious Podcasts

By Megan DeGrand

If I had a dime for every time my friends and I were mid-conversation and suggested starting a podcast, I’d have enough money to buy the equipment to follow through on this pipe dream.

I love listening to podcasts while I do chores around my apartment or as I’m sitting in a coffee shop. There are plenty of benefits to podcasts as a genre: they are believed to have psychological benefits, with listeners developing more refined auditory processing skills and a greater ability to understand complex ideas spoken out loud. Podcasts also have the potential to be educational and expand one’s mind. However, not every podcast is necessarily beneficial to society.

More recently, there has been a rise in “red pill,” “alpha male” podcasts featuring (usually older) men who value their own opinions a little too much. Clips of these podcasts have permeated through different parts of the internet on Instagram or TikTok, and have made their way to young boys. These podcasts often perpetuate negative attitudes towards women and sometimes even foster harmful rhetorics about the LGBTQIA+ community and other minorities. Young boys who lack fully formed opinions of their own may adopt these arrogant views and continue spreading hateful and outdated perspectives about minority communities.

On occasion, a celebrity or famous internet personality will emerge and decide creating a podcast will be the next step in their career. Rarely have I found a celebrity that successfully pulls off an engaging show, and many times it ends up feeling out of touch with the host trying to speak on issues they likely have never faced.

When I mention I like to listen to the occasional podcast, people will often give me recommendations that are very serious and scholarly. I shouldn’t be surprised when they recommend such podcasts, as academic and true crime ones are among the most popular according to Apple Podcasts, but I always wonder why they chose to unwind by listening to such subjects in their free time. When I try to relax before bed or eat my lunch, these podcasts put me in a bad mood, or at least make me think about all that needs to be fixed in the world.

There is definitely a strong influence of American culture to continuously grind and to be more career oriented. Perhaps this ideology is even stronger on a college campus brimming with students who want to learn as much as they can about a certain field to broaden their understanding of a topic and get a leg up on their peers. I think with people listening to more of these academic podcasts, they hope to gather all this information and knowledge on the world’s current state, but this can take a toll, especially if this is their idea of unwinding and relaxation.

There is so much stress and hardship that plagues the world; sometimes I wish to escape the constant rush of information and depressing news by listening to something a little more fun. I’m not saying I’m unique in this activity, or that the podcasts I listen to aren’t popular, but simply I think more people should take time to turn off their brains and just listen to something a bit more upbeat.

Some of my favorite podcasts that I listen to are The Basement Yard, Talk Nasty to Me, and Suburb Talks. The main string that connects all these podcasts are that they are run by long time friends that laugh and bring up old stories together. Usually, they’ll have some topics ready to discuss, but the best moments are when they stray from their conversation and get sidetracked in their memories together.

While some of these podcasts are quite popular, this genre of podcast is a delicate one to curate. With the existence of ‘cancel culture,’ friends may decide against putting their opinions or experiences out into the world for fear of saying something wrong or being judged for it. This makes academic podcasts much more reliable or simpler to create, as they present more objective facts or carefully thought-out responses to current events. Even if friends are just having harmless fun through casual conversations, things may take a wrong turn or be misconstrued into something less innocent.

I think my friends and I would be entertaining podcast hosts, not because any of us have extensive knowledge on any one given topic, but because we know how to have fun conversations and pointless debates. Maybe we wouldn’t be that entertaining, but at least I would tune in.


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