Alex Stephenson The Hipster Barbara Walters

Every time I listen to WTF Podcast with Marc Maron, I get kind of angry. It’s a weird anger, too, because I actually love the show. I find it insightful in a way most things aren’t. But it’s almost like Maron knows exactly the kind of bullshit that will make me upset, because some of the things he says piss me off. However, that could just be because he seems to know how to do that to anybody.

Maron’s show involves long form interviews with people in comedy, like Judd Apatow and Chris Rock. Maron is a comedian himself, one who never reached a level of success that he seems to have desired, and he seems obsessed with his own personal failures. He often brings up his own shortcomings when he is ostensibly interviewing other people, which drives me crazy, but these remarkably personal anecdotes often lead to his guests saying something interesting and perhaps emotional, about themselves. Basically, Maron is the hipster version of Barbara Walters, except he would never choose Kate Gosselin as one of his interesting people. If anybody you are even vaguely interested in appears on his show, that episode is a must-hear. The problem with it only comes when Maron starts to rub off on you a little too much.

In his constant efforts to inject himself into any conversation topic, I worry that Maron might not be the greatest thing for us to be listening to. His interjections make it seem like anybody’s personal insights are important, which is a problem I generally have with modern people. I am always more interested in listening to another person talk than I am interested in talking myself, but I find I am in the overwhelming minority in this case. With people I have recently met, I spend most of any conversation asking questions, unless a pop culture product gets brought up and I must share my opinion on it. And even when somebody does ask me a question, very often I can tell they don’t really care about my answer. To paraphrase a line in Fight Club, a movie about frustration with mass society, people don’t listen so much as they just wait for their turn to speak. And Marc Maron kind of represents everything I hate about modern society: sometimes, it’s like he’s a kid trying to start a Twitter trending topic so that people know he exists. But, like Twitter, he’s also that invaluable news source that leads you to new information you never would have found fifteen years ago.

I always worry people I know are self-obsessed, but I worry that about myself as well. Even the thing you are currently reading has more occurrences of “I” than I’m (fuck!) totally comfortable with. I like listening to people, but I don’t like the idea that fewer and fewer people do now. When I did some work in an ad agency recently, I saw three people standing together apparently having a conversation, but all three of them were talking about completely different things at the same time. They weren’t even waiting for their turn to speak anymore, they were just monologueing because they were talking, god dammit, and what they have to say is valuable. It was one of the most stupefying things I’ve seen, and I’m in no rush to see it again. But I’m always in a rush to listen to a podcast hosted by one of those people, which is kind of what worries me.

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