One of the most beautiful things about podcasting is its ability to open up conversation, and expose us to ideas and viewpoints that we may never have considered. Particularly when more and more of our media diets are becoming polarised and bite-sized, podcasts have the depth to go beyond this.
Today, division is a sign of the times. Our Californian friends have created social media bubble emporiums where rancour is all around, extreme views are the order of the day and nuance has been denuded. You might reasonably say, then, that all this division is a bad thing.
Whoops, there goes the baby along with the bath water - let’s take a step back and consider the nuance. In a podcast scenario, the right amount of division might just be a good thing.
Some podcasts suffer from the delusion of having no division at all, but one person professing a particular point of view without being adequately challenged doesn’t always make for a balanced view or an insightful listen, even if they’re totally right. It’s easy to pontificate unperturbed from the mountaintop when everyone else is in the foothills.
But it’s only when our heartfelt opinions are tackled by equally dedicated opposing voices that the mettle of our argument is truly tested, and the tyres of our thoughts truly kicked. The really seasoned podcast orators can hold their own against contrarians of all sorts, and equally have that ability to parse their opponents' undercurrents.
To be clear, I’m not condoning the Jeremy Kyle school of agitation, where division is meticulously manufactured to satisfy our basest couch-potato instincts. I’m talking about the right amount of division, a spirited but respectful civil discourse where views are expressed, arguments are had, and opponents are never more than artfully aggressive.
If we’re coining a clumsy sporting analogy this is more fencing than UFC - a duel of equals, finely honed and prepped in their craft. Cunning, low-level deceit and guile are all acceptable, but invective, condescension or abuse will be null points all day long.
Let the games begin and let the audience decide whose pronouncements are worthy of their assent. And, if the discussion yields no clear winner, then all the better. Perhaps there’s food for thought in that for all of us? Though we might like them to, issues are not always cut and dried, and there are rarely neat answers without unforeseen or underlying consequences.
When it comes to any issues of any importance, black-and-white options are a simplistic fallacy.
If opinions are your thing, your podcast might be a more accurate reflection of what’s really going on if your audience comes away with a better understanding of the myriad miraculous hues of grey that sit in the middle, deep down beyond the echo chambers where our Californian friends might not want you to go.