The Escapism Phenomenon - What does podcasting have to do with it?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your circumstances and all that’s going on around you? Sometimes life gets so overbearing that at one point or another, we start to wish for a weekend on the beach or a cabin in the mountains just so we can disconnect and recenter our focus. Unfortunately, the instant escape we all desire isn’t realistic for many who can’t just leave whenever they feel like it.

That being said, how do we escape the trials of everyday life? What offers respite from the boredom? Temporary escapism is how we get away without actually getting away and podcasting has a bigger role to play in it than you might think.

What is escapism?

Escapism is defined as “habitual diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine,” according to Merriam-Webster.

Some believe escapism is bad for mental health as it could possibly create false hopes in realities that don’t exist. Others believe everyone practices escapism from time to time and it’s totally normal. Regardless of what camp you’re in, we can all agree that escapism helps us cope in one way or another with the more mundane parts of the human experience.

Some forms of escapism include getting lost in the world of gaming, daydreaming, doodling, researching topics and going down rabbit holes, or simply imagining yourself far, far away in a distant land doing something completely different from what you do daily. 

Escapism isn’t a new concept, but the popularity of this phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent years with the rise of social media platforms and spending too much time online. Doomscrolling might be a form of escapism for some, as it requires little to no cognitive effort and is a solid distraction. Many feel the need to unplug and silence their phones so they can distance themselves from the woes of social media. 

Before modern technology, people turned to other forms of entertainment as a means to escape like the theater, the opera, dance halls, art and sculpting, to name a few. These are still done today, but social media seems to be a more popular escape because it’s quick and mindless. On that note, can you blame anyone for needing escapes throughout the day? It makes sense that living in such a fast-paced world would lead to the rise of brainless detachment.

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Podcasting - tune in to zone out

Of all the forms of escapism that exist today, why do so many turn to podcasting? Perhaps the most common reason so many turn to audio media is because it offers a sense of intimacy and authenticity that other mediums lack. 

There’s millions of podcasts out there available for streaming at a moment’s notice. Whether you’re interested in true crime, history, learning a new language, or even beekeeping, with such a large content library, there’s something for everyone of any taste in podcasting.

Do you ever crave conversation without actually having to converse? Yeah, so do we. This is why podcasting is the perfect distraction. They’re hosted by real people with real human emotions and unique takes on interesting topics. Something about the rawness of their conversations makes us feel a sense of community and connection with like-minded people. 

Imagine it’s a conversation between friends in a coffee shop. That’s the vibe so many desire, especially after a day’s work. Even better, these “friends” aren’t actually there so you don’t have to speak. Simply listen.

You may have noticed how much you’re able to get done when you have the right podcast playing in the background. This is because content that peaks your interest captivates your mental attention while you accomplish mindless tasks like doing the dishes or going on a walk. Even listening to your favorite show while driving is a fantastic way to unwind. Sometimes listening to music just doesn’t cut it, even if you’re an avid music listener. 

Many choose to listen to podcasts to distract themselves while exercising. It helps ease the mind from the physical pain and stress of a hard workout and even works to push you harder depending on your content of choice.

In a time where more people are seemingly opting for doomscrolling on social media as a means to escape, it’s important we pursue knowledge whenever and however we can. That’s what makes podcasting so great. You can still escape, turn off your brain, do something you enjoy like creating art or cooking a favorite recipe, and still learn something new from a podcast. 

Escape in curiosity

It’s no secret that life can be extremely stressful and it’s important to find healthy ways to cope with the pressures we deal with every day. For example, true crime podcasts offer a way to explore the darker side of human nature without actually experiencing it. Comedy podcasts provide an opportunity to laugh and let loose, while history podcasts offer a chance to learn about the past and gain a deeper understanding of the present. Regardless of the topic, podcasts allow listeners to step into a different world and forget about their own problems for a while. Doesn’t that sound nice?

Some even consider podcasting as a form of self-care. There’s entire categories dedicated to the lived experiences of everyday life, personal growth and self-development, as well as meditation guidance and mindfulness practices. These can be extremely validating and encouraging for those looking to better themselves. 

Mental health is another major topic covered by many podcasts, especially today. With the widespread discussion of mental health in modern times, millions of people tune in to learn better ways to manage their anxiety and overall well being. Some podcasts even offer practical tips for improving mood and give advice on other topics like nutrition, sleep, interpersonal relationships, and exercise.

In conclusion, podcasting is an essential tool for constructive escapism. It’s an excellent medium for coping with stress. Rather than turning to unhealthy coping methods, lose yourself in the immersive world of storytelling with your favorite hosts. Get lost in their words and turn off your mind for a while as you imagine yourself in the worlds they create. Sure, a last-minute escape to some distant land sounds amazing, but it isn’t an option for everyone. After all, we’ve got a lot on our plates these days. With its accessibility, diversity, and ability to promote mental health and wellbeing, podcasting has become an extremely valuable tool for those looking to escape. 

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