Collective Connections: How Podcasts Keep Me Sane

By Bethany Berger

When EarBuds first launched in February 2017, I was six months into a new job in a new town and I was feeling pretty lonely. I live in a small, rural town in the Mississippi Delta and while I love it, I sometimes feel isolated from the rest of the world. Being isolated is going to be great for when we go to nuclear war with North Korea, but it’s not great right now for a millennial trying to stay up on her social justice --  and just all around social -- game.


In my Tinder bio, I describe myself as a “northern instigator who can open doors for herself thank you very much.” (This may be why I go on so few Tinder dates). But in any case, a great deal of my friends are baby boomers I’ve met around town.



Podcasts keep me sane. They allow me to escape, while simultaneously keeping me connected. The best part of my Monday is opening that EarBuds email and downloading all the new podcasts for the week. I’ve learned so much about things I would have never known existed without these podcasts and the EarBuds community. While filing and making copies at work, I learn about how things are built. During dinner time I listen to stories about the Mothman Prophecies, and in the shower I catch up on what’s happening in the space race.


A lot of people, especially in large U.S. cities,  find themselves surrounded by people who share their political views. After the 2016 presidential election, we heard a lot about how the news we listen to reinforces itself, that our social bubbles are often filled with people who share our viewpoints on most issues. My experience in Mississippi is different, and for that I’m grateful. I feel very lucky that everyday I work and laugh with people who are different than me. EarBuds’ mission to connect people through stories different from their own challenges me each week when I am introduced to audio that’s outside of my direct zone of interest.


I’m also so grateful for my fellow EarBuddies out there who send me podcasts that make me feel seen and ones that challenge how I think. The crowdsourced creativity of our Collective is contagious. We have so much story-sharing power. So far, the Collective has lifted up black voices, women’s voices, immigrants’ voices, disabled voices, and even my own voice! (I curated a list about Mississippi, find it here).


I don’t know where the next year will take us, but I’ll be sure to pack my earbuds.


For a list of our past theme and pod picks, and even to suggest your own theme, visit our Listening Lists page.