When we started Normal Gossip our producer, Alex Laughlin, warned me that I was entering a medium that is particularly vulnerable to creating parasocial relationships. There is something about putting in earbuds and hearing your voice that makes it seem to people like you’re always there with them. It’s one of the benefits of audio, and it’s probably why gossip works so well in this format. It feels like I’m there in your car, at your gym, or in your kitchen while you do the dishes.
But parasocial relationships are also funny. I don’t know much about them, really, but the power imbalance is almost impossible to parse. The person who is known by the audience has more social capital, but they are also at a disadvantage in the interaction: everyone else knows things about them, and they don’t know anything about the people they are “talking” to in their car, at their gym or doing the dishes.
This week’s gossip is about a parasocial relationship that binds a group of friends together, and then very quickly rips them apart. It’s the most meta story we will ever tell because it is a gossip story about friendship and podcasts!
Joining me this week is Brian Park. Brian is a comedian, actor and co-host of the Feeling Asian podcast. He was also raised in Texas! I don’t know if I would say we had fun with this story, but it definitely took us for a ride.
I talked to Brian about how he was raised to keep private and now tells jokes for a living, how gossip can accelerate a new relationship, and why he (the horror!) hates voice notes! Then we got right into a messy, strange story about a group of friends who become obsessed with a podcast and their obsession goes a little too far. Or does it?
And if you do have some good goss that you want us to hear, the email for that is email@example.com, or phone it in to 2-6-7-9-GOSSIP.
We are also now accepting gossip for our Season 2 listener gossip episode! We are looking for your stories from niche organizations (bake sale organizing committees, embroidery groups, charity races, anything you think is a small and important culture). When you call or email, make sure to indicate that they are for the bonus episode!