Hate mongers ignore podcasts

In 2017, giving your opinion online means exposing yourself to a barrage of abuse and insults. A recent American study by Pew Research Center discovered that 4 in 10 Americans have experience with online harassment. An epidemic that every internet user sooner or later has to deal with. And that chance only increases when you are not a white privileged male. Then you run the risk of being provoked because of your skin color, gender or ethnicity.

However there remains, for the time being, one area online that is free from this epidemic, a place where people can express their opinion without immediately creating their own online slaughter. Welcome to the world of podcasts.

“If you want to hate someone openly, you are not going to listen to their podcast for an hour. In other words, meaning spending an hour with that person.” Jenna Weiss-Bermann leads the podcast company Pineapple Street Media and previously worked as Audio Director at Buzzfeed. In an interview (with the Podcast Hot Pod) Weiss-Bermann says that the editors at the news site are permanently exposed to online harassment. With every article that an editor publishes, he or she can count on a stream of insults and with a pinch of bad luck, the personal details of the editor are also published.

Contrary to her written work, the hateful comments fail to appear with the podcast

However, after the launch of a new Buzzfeed podcast, the insults stayed away. Also, the podcasts of Pineapple Street Media were left alone. Other podcast creators have the same experience. Ann Friedman makes the popular Call Your Girlfriend. Contrary to her written work, the hateful comments fail to appear with the podcast. In fact, Friedman says she receives a remarkably positive response to her podcast and indeed in iTunes her show gets 4.5 stars.

Podcast creators conclude that their medium is damn difficult to troll. With a podcast, for example, you cannot share separate parts and you cannot place separate comments with episodes. Listening to a podcast also takes time and if a world view does not align with your own, then every minute is one too many. So yes, as a hateful troll, you will need to find your salvation somewhere else.

Podcast creators feel safe enough to take different standpoints

Podcast creators feel safe enough to take different standpoints and talk about topics that are suppressed elsewhere on the internet. The number of shows with an alternative perspective on the world is growing fast.

Take for instance 2 Dope Queens. This podcast is made by two African American women who go through life with each other, as well as the show’s invited guests. A topic explored in the show is the race of the African American women. Unfortunately, in the US, race relations play a pivotal role in everyday life, where the privileges and rights of a white individual far outweigh those of a black individual. While, the podcast, The Nod, also from an African American perspective, regularly explores the painful history of slaves in the US.

Potluck is another example, with a collection of podcasts where the Asian American community offer their view of the world. Further examples include the countless women and LGBT communities who have discovered the podcast as a medium where they can discuss their everyday reality.

Hopefully, there is a space online where you will not immediately encounter negative comments if you fall outside of the mainstream mold. Yet in general the everyday reality of the online world is painful. The more I listen to these kinds of podcasts, the more I realize that I rarely hear these kinds of stories. Most media show me the world from a single perspective. With these podcasts at least one thing has become clear: I am a white privileged male.


This article was originally published on Nederlands MediaNieuws (Dutch), October 2017, it is available in Dutch here.