My mind is expanding, my horizons are broadening. I’m washing the dishes while having a cutting-edge audio experience learning about the Plague of Justinian. And you have just walked into the kitchen saying something I can’t hear — I’m trying to focus on what the late antique Byzantine scholar Procopius had to say about the daily death rate in the sixth century. As best as I can gather, while I fumble off my rubber gloves, you’re telling me something about a full moon. Can’t you see I’m listening to a goddamn podcast?
Maybe you don’t appreciate what this means to me. This medium is my only escape from the banality of our late-capitalist existence. Tasks like washing all the glassware that we’ve agreed don’t go in the machine. Not to belabor the point, but I specifically bought large noise-canceling headphones so there could be no possible misunderstanding. When these are on, you should know by now that I’m listening to a goddamn podcast.
I didn’t hear exactly what you said to me, but I’m guessing from your unhappy expression that you weren’t expecting me to keep my headphones on while watching this film. Especially since I suggested we watch it. As it happens, this is an audio commentary. My favorite podcasters are having a blast watching this movie. Laughing and joking with each other. Don’t pause it — you’ll ruin the sync. The way you’re looking at me is really killing that vibe, which really makes me wonder: what is the point of listening to this goddamn podcast?
This might have somehow passed you by, but we are living in a golden age of podcasting. A diverse range of new voices are finding an audience. You are interrupting them when you start talking at me, deliberately ignoring all the signals that should tell you I won’t be paying attention because I’m listening to some peppy millennials comparing their favorite serial killers on this goddamn podcast.
Okay, sure. It was only an ad read you were interrupting, but this is how the creators make their money. That and the Patreon memberships let me feel part of a community united in accessing exclusive additional content. These communities have come to mean a lot to me, helping me make sense of our unprecedented times. What was that? You’ll have to wait while I pause this before you start talking to me. Yes, we can go for a walk in, like, fifteen minutes. Once I’ve finished listening to the Office Ladies’ goddamn podcast.
Yes, fine, I guess it is nice to be outside in the evening, but I’m glad I brought my headphones. The fresh air made me want to listen to an author interview. So unless these birds have a new book to promote about the political implications of the past four years, I think I’ll keep listening to this goddamn podcast.
You want to talk about “us.” That is why you suggested going for a walk. I heard that loud and clear in one of Michael Barbaro’s pauses. I am 100% committed to this relationship, which is why I’m going to show you something that will explain everything, I swear. Look, I have over a thousand goddamn podcasts racked up on my queue. It takes me five minutes to scroll down to the most recently downloaded. Hours of experts explaining the problems in the world, and snarky banter to distract me from them. I’m showing it to you. This is worse than going to confession. Look, I’ll let you scroll through it, so you can stare into my void. I’m being vulnerable with you like I’ve never been with anyone before.
You just cleared the queue.
You’ve pulled the headphones off my head and thrown them down into that little stream. Now I can hear the stream. It gurgles like a child drinking a glass of milk. I’ll just ignore the fact that I didn’t turn the noise-canceling off. I can see the LED flickering under the water.
Well, I appreciate the way you’re hugging me and I think I’ll have a little cry too. I like the way the wind is blowing and the trees are silvered in the full moon. Well, at least for now, right here where we are, I think things are alright.