Speed-Listening and the Trouble With 'Podfasters'

March 20, 2019 0 By JohnValbyNation

Like you—like every delirious commuter—I savor podcasts. They’re a reprieve from my dead-eyed Twitter scroll. But unlike you, I don’t stress about missing an episode or four. In fact, I find comfort in the medium’s buffet of excess. Therefore I reserve special scorn for so-called podfasters: the tweakers who listen at 1.5X, 2X, even 3X speed. I see you over there—oblivious to the world, AirPods stuffed in your hearholes as, Joey Chestnut–style, you inhale content. Scads of apps aid you in this frantic endeavor. Rightspeed accelerates the pace every two minutes, turning Sarah Koenig’s soothing timbre into a chittery titter, while Overcast algorithmically cleaves thoughtful pauses from conversations. Google’s app offers no less than 16 speeds. My f-ing bike only has five! Listen to me, chipmunks—listen. Podcasting is an art, every choice subtle and intentional. You think Roman Mars exhales wistfully, just so, on a whim?! When you blow through an episode, you’re gutting the experience of its hard-won nuance and cadence. Also, you’re wrong: Speed-­listeners think they’re self-­optimizing, but science shows comprehension flies off the rails at 2X—and crashes and burns at 3X. Ever wonder what happened to comfortable silences? Why small talk makes you want to pass out? Why the ring of your phone triggers a Pavlovian punching of the Ignore button? Blame the relentless babble that’s blasting your brain to mush.

This article appears in the September issue. Subscribe now.

Related Video


App Pack | Meditation Apps to Help You Stay Sane

Load up your devices with these mediation, mindfulness, and relaxation apps. Hopefully, they’ll help you find some inner peace. Namaste!