We all know that one obnoxious person who at some point has said, “I wish we could go back to the good old days where people actually spoke to each other on the train. It’s really sad to see everyone just on their phones and ignoring the real world these days.”
*Cue eye roll*
I’m just going to put it out there… NOBODY WANTS THAT.
People love to keep to themselves. I’d go as far as to say that it’s a national Aussie pastime to ignore fellow commuters as much as humanly possible. Minimum interaction is my no.1 tip for surviving on Sydney trains—this includes avoiding eye contact.
As a professional in the sport of ‘keeping to myself’, I regularly listen to podcasts on my long commute to Sydney. On this treacherous journey (dubbed as such due to the extended mobile data dead zone), I notice people employing a multitude of other techniques to avoid people: reading, listening to music and… oh wait that’s all I can think of; I guess that what happens when you’re that good at actively ignoring people (whoops).
I find podcasts to be the most effective way of sustaining a degree of separation from the transient masses. Like music, podcasts benefit from the ‘headphones on, don’t f**king talk to me’ rule of 21st-century lore. However, they also take the best parts of other media formats in one easy-to-transport bundle.
If you don’t want to lug a book around everywhere you go, just listen to a podcast.
If you want to watch your favourite Youtuber but don’t have the data, download their podcast before your trip.
If you miss ye olde days of listening to radio shows, then they’re on there too.
And if you want to up-skill in your spare time then educative podcasts are the perfect opportunity.
I love podcasts because they’re interesting and engaging, with minimal effort from my end. I get to dive into complex stories and plumb the depths of others’ knowledge without going out of my way in my day-to-day. Due to their compact nature, I also don’t have to worry about judgment from the odd sticky-beak like I would when I lose yet another game of Catan (my go-to alternative train activity). They’re also pretty handy when you’re forced to stand up for the entire two-hour journey.
Frequently, I listen to the Hamish and Andy podcast. I might do this as I gaze out the window at the South Pacific, or as I scroll aimlessly across social media in those small pockets of decent 4G connection. The trip goes faster. People don’t talk to me. I’m entertained. And whoever is sitting next to me may be a little disturbed if I accidentally let slip some uncontrolled laughter—
—But it’s hard to see this as a negative if it causes them to inch a bit away from my seat (more space for me—yay!).
So, next time that irritating person comments on how socially checked-out people are on public transport “these days”, after their enlightening 1am trip to Wollongong with a random meth-head… just ignore them. Because you have the wonderful world of podcasts, and they only have the empty hope that that this line of discussion makes them look intelligent.