Although I may get some flack for saying this, many children born into the age of television and the internet haven't used their imaginations even half as much as in the past. Rather than reading or listening and picturing the scenes in their heads, they're hand-fed content that while it is more immersive, actually leads to decreased functionality in the left side of the brain where creativity thrives. This isn't to say we should stop the production of visual media -- movies and television shows can be wonderfully immersive and creative to their core, but some amount of art has been lost along the way. Many franchises aim for the bottom line rather than creating something truly creative and inspiring.
And this is where we get to the part where I am slightly biased.
We all remember that one scene in the holiday classic A Christmas Story, right? When little Ralphie expresses undying love for the radio program "Little Orphan Annie"? He ran to the living room and listened carefully every time the announcer's voice made way for the show's signature jingle. For the next 30 minutes, he was enthralled with the stories being told purely through sound waves and visualized by his own imagination.
One medium that died for a time and came back within the last ten or so years is the Audio Drama, or as we know it, "Podcasts." These can range in any number of topics, from talk shows to gripping horror stories, and the content is different from anything else on the market. "Why," do you ask? Well, the medium was rediscovered and improved upon. If television suddenly disappeared for 50 years and then re-entered mainstream media, it would go without saying that any technological innovations made within that time period would be applied to the lost medium and improve it ten-fold.
The re-introduction of this form of storytelling has significantly improved with the invention of the smartphone, internet, etc. Because this form of storytelling takes place completely in the medium of audio, downloadable files are far smaller than video files and allow the listener to multitask should they choose to. Many "podcast-heads" listen to stories on their daily commute, during chores, or during other mind-numbing tasks.
In addition, "podcast-heads" have proven to be one of the most intellectual and consistent fan-bases in modern media today who are dedicated to truly learning more about a topic, for over an hour each episode if needed. Because of this, there isn't a hard line where the story needs to cut off in the course of a 13 episode season at 22 minutes per episode. There is far more freedom in the creation of the content never-before-seen.
Podcasts aren't nearly as monitored as mainstream content and are therefore more free to be whatever they want to be. Think of podcast applications and sites as the audio version of a love child between YouTube and cable: anyone can make a podcast, as long as it's consistent and creative. The more interesting the content, the more downloads it'll get and the more sponsors it will attract: sponsors means more funding, which means better content. Anyone can make a podcast, from Disney to your neighbor, and the better ones will rise to the top of the "free-to-listen" pile.
Now, what are you going to do with all the information? Well, I think the obvious thing would be to go listen to some podcasts, but I highly doubt you'll just take my word for it. Instead, if you've made it this far in this article, I'd recommend rethinking what content you consume. How much time are you spending watching The Office compilations on YouTube? How much time on re-runs of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding?
Rethink your emotional connections and how you're spending your time. Life is about experiencing it to the fullest, and rewatching Parks & Rec isn't going to get you anywhere. Instead, dedicate some time to experiencing a detailed research expedition to find the historical equivalent of Atlantis (TANIS), become attached to teenagers learning to control their supernatural powers with the help of a damaged psychologist working for an evil corporation (The Bright Sessions), witness a journalist falling in love with a paranormal investigator (The Black Tapes), and truly cry when your favorite character dies after knowing him for 6 hours a day for a month straight (We're Alive).
Hop on the podcast train. You won't regret it.