Do You Enjoy Listening to a Discussion About a Subject You Know Nothing About?

brown and black basketball ball

Have I mentioned that I have a podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin? Oh right, I think maybe I have.

Well, because I’m fascinated with all things podcast-related, I get a brilliant newsletter called Hot Pod, which is written by my friend Nicholas Quah.

The newsletter covers the highly specialized world of podcasts, but Nick is such a terrific writer that he often throws in asides or observations that resonate far beyond his official topic.

For instance, in today’s newsletter he wrote about how he’d been listening to a podcast called  Card Talk about the hit trading card game “Magic: The Gathering.” Then he added:

So, I’m not a Magic player myself — I had a passing interest when I was a teenager in Malaysia, but TV ended up sucking more of time…but I find myself really drawn to the patter and rhythm of the often insular, community-specific language baked in free-flowing conversation. Do you ever have that experience where you turn on like, a sports radio program for a sport you don’t really follow because it’s just really damn fun to listen to people get into the weeds of something they know a whole lot about? It’s like immersing yourself in a place that speaks a whole other language, and it builds up a certain envy of wanting to be in that in-group, because here I am now wishing that I had spent more time nerding out about MTG back when I was growing up back home. Hmm. A portal into a life I could be living right now.

[Sentence bolded by me]

When I read this I thought — yes! I know that feeling exactly, and I thought it was just some weird idiosyncratic aspect of my own nature.

I do find that sometimes I find it entertaining to hear a spirited discussion about something I know nothing about–whether that’s basketball, the Grammy Awards, the Real Housewives, the Olympics, opera, nice restaurants in New York City, international monetary policy.

Why that is, I don’t know. Sometimes it makes me want to know more–but usually not. It’s just fun to listen to people talk, to hear the lingo, the debates, the nuances, the history, the jokes, and most of all, the enthusiasm–without really understanding what’s being discussed. An odd phenomenon.

Do you ever enjoy listening to people discuss a subject you know nothing about?



Like what you see? Explore more about this topic.

Interested in happiness, habits, and human nature?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter “5 things making me happy”.

Subscribe to Gretchen’s newsletter.

Every Friday, Gretchen Rubin shares 5 things that are making her happier, asks readers and listeners questions, and includes exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes material.