I know, I know. “But podcasts are informative and educational.” True. I thought I would be the last person to write this article. I used my podcast app more than Spotify. I had over 20 podcasts automatically downloaded daily and I made an effort to listen to ALL of them even if I had to catch up on the weekends.

These days there’s a podcast for nearly every niche with wildly over-the-top/dramatic/serious hosts to fit your style. But no matter what podcasts you subscribe to every podcast has one commonality, one thing it does so spectacularly well it keeps us coming back for more. Podcasts are excellent at holding our attention in a headlock.

“What’s wrong with that? Most things we find cool or interesting are attention grabbers.”, I hear you. However, podcasts are almost exclusively listened to when the last thing we need to distract us is the amazingness of neon signs or a drunken conversation between YouTube stars. Our brains need time to relax and take stock of our lives. 

“My brain gets plenty of time to relax, my life is going great! Besides, I learn so much from podcasts!” Dude, that’s amazing! But when are you going to actually use what you learned from that podcast? Podcasts are information junk food: it’s enjoyable, but it fattens your brain with a bunch of useless facts. Podcasts are not the only source of information junk food.

I’m not proposing that you give up podcasts for good. Just take a break and reevaluate.

Here’s the solution: Delete all your podcasts and go one week without listing to a single second of Blue Apron ads. Then, after your one-week junk information cleanse, go back to your podcast player and before resubscribing to your podcasts, ask yourself this question: Is this information immediately useful to me? 90% of the time, the answer is “No”.

After the cut, I began to actually realize how much of my thought and anxieties came from the junk information disguised as intellectual stimulus that I was binge consuming. Once you begin to realize that if it’s not directly applicable to you RIGHT NOW, it doesn’t matter, you begin to focus on the truly important things.

Try it out! Let me know how it works for you in the comments!

8 responses to “Why I stopped listening to podcasts and you should too.”

  1. Corey Avatar

    How I feel about a lot of social media. I was super into getting as much info as I could out of Facebook, and then I deleted my account and I realized how much time + energy was wasted on it.

    1. Robert Avatar

      +1 We are suffering from information overload. What’s worse is it’s increasingly difficult to determine what information is useful (or even factual). Like any tempting habit, the best remedy is some good ol’ fashioned self-control.

  2. John Smith Avatar
    John Smith

    I love this article. I’ve cut out podcasts, twitch.tv, tv shows and movies. I have a struggle with YouTube still but only subscribe to 15 channels currently. They’re all in my field of technology, health, investing, marksmanship and MMA. I need to work on that next.

    I struggle with “just in time” learning. I binge learn random things and think I am doing “good” but really I am being inefficient (output/input=efficiency).

    I really appreciate the reminder to give the mind a break, too. I always throw on a podcast when doing chores, errands or working out. It’s okay to give the mind a rest.

    1. Robert Avatar

      Here’s a fun fact: When the mind is idle while doing a rote task (i.e. cooking, folding laundry, driving, etc.) a neural pathway called the Default Mode Network begins to light up. The Default Mode Network is associated with future planning, goal setting, and self-evaluation.

      For me, I find it most tempting to throw on a podcast in these moments (to subconsciously take my mind off these things). The mind is an efficient system — it does important work even in downtime. Actually, its more like it saves important work FOR downtime. Robbing our minds of this downtime may be more detrimental than NOT catching up on 99% Invisible.

      Congrats on trimming the fat in your media diet! It’s a step few take but I truly feel like we are some of the first of a larger movement!

  3. Nick Bedford Avatar

    This very week I realised that I no longer needed to listen anymore to the 11 or 12 podcasts I was subscribed to, so I reduced it down to two: Writing Excuses (20 mins) and On Taking Pictures.

    In January 2018, I made the decision to completely delete my Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat accounts, stop chasing the YouTube dream, dial down significantly my dependence on Instagram and get back to reality.

    Over the last five months, I slowly came to the conclusion that by the end of 2017, I had replaced my shifting and dwindling circle of real friends with internet content. It was a wake up call and forced me to look at who I wanted to be and start again with a new real life direction (outside work) and build new circles of friends.

    So for me, podcast subscriptions had ended up in the same category as social media feeds and it took me until now to realise!

    Good riddance.

    1. Robert Avatar

      Right on! Internet addiction (content consumption) is the new smoking. Our generation thought it was great growing up but we’re beginning to realize the negative effects. What’s worse is that nobody seems willing to talk about it (online at least) — Nobody can make $$$ online telling people they’re wasting their time there.

      These platforms (YouTube especially) are designed to make everybody think they can make a living on them if they put in enough effort. This may be true for some of the most dedicated but most of us end up working FOR YouTube/Facebook/Instagram/etc producing content for THEM with far-inadequate compensation.

      Congrats on going clean! May we be the first of many to come! See you in real life, Nick!

  4. pam Miner Avatar

    I turned on a podcast for the first time and I can’t turn it off. I don’t want to listen to this. If you can help me, please . I don’t hear it now but it’s lurking somewhere ready to resume.

  5. MMizaC Avatar

    I have never listened to a podcast.

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