Friday, September 19, 2008

Real Talk: conversation overheard - podcast review

Nick and Dan are friends and room mates and they record their conversations for podcast. They call it Real Talk and this is exactly what it is: virtually unedited, more or less natural conversation, therefore real talk. A changing crew of friends and acquaintances join in for the show, but Dan and Nick (mostly Nick) are the driving force. They discuss, what you may assume any group of adolescents will discuss. The question is, however, is it worthwhile to listen in? How valuable is the unstructured, unfounded, often bad mouthed conversation? If you don't want to admit to the joys of eavesdropping, you will need a good excuse and I can think of two.

For one there is the anthropology angle. The podcast allows insight in what occupies the minds of these young men (mostly men) and moreover, how they relate to each other. The conversations can be seen as an exercise of their friendship. The very fact that it is recorded and put on-line adds a delicate, but deliberate, therefore arguably ritual, dimension. It is interesting to observe this effect, together with especially Nick's incessant efforts to verbalize the relationships. There is also a very barely successful integration in larger society to be observed and one may interpret a large part of what is to be heard as a struggle with the ongoing initiation into adult life.

Secondly one can take the psychology angle and observe the participant's struggle with their insecurities; about money, sex, relationships, work, substance use and not in the last place about their relationship with each other. They are aware of their lack of achievement, but they seem to be far from finding a way around it. They are entangled in acquiring identity, meaning to their lives and stability in relationships. The decision to record and publish their talks demand a sound psychological explanation. Is it a plea for help? For confirmation? Is it a power struggle? A game of dare? Or...?

Then again, it takes a voyeur to make a good anthropologist and psychologist.

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