Strange Sympathy

I’ll admit that for an avowed technophile, I’m coming in pretty late to the podcasting phenomenon. To be honest, about the only podcast I ever went to the trouble to download prior to the iTunes podcasting update was Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica commentary podcast. And even there, I wasn’t using a real podcast aggregator, but just copying down the raw MP3 files.

But once iTunes got into the game, I gave it a whirl. There were a lot of podcasts I tried once, and then forgot. Others were nice-to-hears, but not need-to-hears. But one podcast really captured my fancy: Skepticality. It was news from a skeptical point of view without being overtly hostile to faith, religion, and the like (some of the interviewed guests may have been a little more so, but they were balanced by guests with an opposing inclination).

I downloaded all of the old programs and started listening to them during my commutes. While it had certainly come to my attention because of its popularity, I didn’t feel that it was in any way designed for popular consumption. In fact, I’d argue that the target audience for the podcast is fairly limited. But however one might choose to analyze it, in the space of just a couple of short weeks, I was hooked. I had never met the show’s hosts, Derek and Swoopy — hell, I hadn’t even registered on their bulletin board — but I instinctively felt like we’d get along great. Oh, we’d argue, no doubt (particularly about politics), but on the whole, no worries.

And then this past Friday, Swoopy posted a message that — on the same day that they’d been singled out by Steve Jobs as one of the great new podcasts out there — Derek was hospitalized with an arteriovenous malformation (somewhat like an aneurysm, I understand), and was in a drug-induced coma.

I was stunned. And yet, these are people with whom I have had no contact whatsoever. They don’t even know I exist. And I’m certainly no sentimentalist who believes (in any literal sense) that we’re all connected by some sort of invisible ties. But I really felt for them. It really felt like this was happening to close friends, not complete strangers who I just happened to have been listening to on my iPod.

It makes me understand a bit more how people can become obsessive celebrity fans — despite all of the communication being strictly one way, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that, all rational thought to the contrary, some of that information is heading backward along that conduit.

I’m not so irrational as to believe that there’s any factual basis to that, but my feelings aren’t changing. I don’t pray, but I do sincerely hope that Derek recovers soon. And not just because I want “my new show” back, but because I honestly do want him to get better.

And though I don’t have faith that he will, I do trust that it may just happen — and the difference between the two is a topic for another day.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home