Amanda Jacobson found herself in a bind earlier this week when she couldn’t recall whether a conversation she remembered had happened in real life or in a podcast she had listened to.
“I just can’t be sure,” Amanda told us. “Whether it’s talking about politics or TV or what we all did last weekend, it just all kind of runs together.”
The incident began when one of Amanda’s friends mentioned a childhood toy she missed, which triggered a memory of conversation about the psychological benefits of nostalgia. But as she began to chime in, Amanda found herself wondering whether she had actually been involved in this conversation, or whether she had just heard Jesse Thorn talking about it on Bullseye.
“It was really eye-opening,” Amanda said of the incident. “I don’t think I really talk about things like “psychological benefits” with my friends. Mostly we’re talking about our favorite kinds of dogs, House of Cards, or stuff we want from West Elm. Which, to be fair, could also sound a lot like a podcast.”
Jamie Spelling, a software designer living in Colorado, relayed a very similar experience.
“I had been telling everyone about my hilarious friend Paul for weeks,” she says. “Suddenly it hit me. I was actually talking about Paul F. Tompkins, a comedian I’ve never met. It’s got me wondering if I’ve ever even been part of a real conversation in my whole life.”
As more and more podcasts flood the iTunes charts, the odds of mistaking a podcast conversation for a real life conversation has grown exponentially.
“I’ll sometimes go a whole day and realize I didn’t hear anyone’s voice except those guys from Pod Save America,” Amanda confessed to us. “There’s just something about listening to a group of white dudes talk authoritatively for two hours that makes me feel like I’m just hanging out with my friends that I only sort of like but still hang around with anyway.”
Fortunately for podcast listeners out there, some steps do exist to help delineate reality from your iTunes feed. And next time you find yourself in a true, real-life conversation, it can help to loudly exclaim “THIS IS REAL!” to the group, just to keep yourself grounded.
As for Jacobson, she’s fairly certain her nostalgia conversation was from real life.
“I’m like, 99% sure it happened in real life,” Amanda says. “Yes. I’m pretty sure I heard it from my friend. His name is Ira Glass.”