Taylor, a stay at home mother who has written freelance stories for Psychology Today, HuffPost, and The Washington Post, identifies as a liberal, progressive, and feminist. Boer, a digital entrepreneur and president of the marketing firm Movable Media, says his views are more centrist. On their podcast, Z to A: We’ve Got Issues — available on iTunes and Podbean and now in its second year — Taylor and Boer dig into the news from their own viewpoints and look at other positions along the political spectrum. Earlier this month, they spoke with PAW’s Brett Tomlinson.
It started on Facebook
Zanthe: “When Trump was elected, I found myself really struggling to find a medium in which to express myself more clearly about what I was feeling, and I was putting a lot of that on Facebook.”
Andrew: “I was noticing how many of her posts were … essentially triggering me, in the sense that I would get upset. Sometimes I might engage and respond, but at some point I unfriended Zanthe. And then maybe a week later, I re-friended her and I said, ‘Look, I unfriended you and I don't want to do that, but I think maybe what we should do is we should just do a podcast and talk about this all this,’ because I started feeling myself pulling away from being open-minded to the other side.”
Zanthe: “We were really interested in the idea of what happens when you take this conversation that’s happening online and you make it real — you put two people who like each other, who haven’t really been close in a long time except via social media, and take the conversation back from the virtual space into a real space.”
Keeping an open mind
Zanthe: “You expose yourself a lot when you do this publicly, and I think that’s been frightening, actually, to some extent, even though we don’t have a massive number of listeners. Andrew, especially — I admire him being willing to open himself up and have these discussions where I sometimes lace into him.”
Three more podcasts to check out this month
1. Sociology professor FREDERICK WHERRY explores why some economic policies disproportionately affect black communities on Intersections, from the Brookings Institution.
2. Dr. DONNICA MOORE ’81 interviews friend and classmate MARTHA BUTTENHEIM ’81 on In the Ladies’ Room.
3. Dreams in Drive host RANA CAMPBELL ’13 talks about her decision to quit her day job and concentrate on her work as a marketing entrepreneur.
Andrew: “Not into me, necessarily, but what I represent. I think that I what I’m trying to do is put myself into a situation where I’m open to changing my mind, and I think what Zanthe’s trying to do is to change my mind.”
Zanthe: “And you’ve changed my thinking on certain things as well. I definitely see things more empathetically than I did before we started. So I think there’s some catharsis here.”
Andrew: “I think that’s why it works. If we were just two people arguing with each other, maybe it would be entertainment, but it wouldn’t be serving the purpose that I think we’re trying to serve.”
‘Not My Tribe’
In a recurring segment, Zanthe and Andrew quiz each other on news stories from sources they’re unlikely to have read.
Andrew: “It’s funny because I’d never read Breitbart or The Daily Caller or even Fox News before this (I read The Wall Street Journal). I started reading [conservative news sites] for the show, and then of course your browser thinks that’s you and starts putting you in that bubble. But I’ve found that pretty interesting. I would say that we are getting maybe too good at ‘Not My Tribe.’”
Zanthe: “Andrew has an uncanny ability to guess, even when he doesn’t know the right answer, which drives me crazy.”
Andrew: “I don’t know the story, but I know Zanthe, so I usually know where it’s going.”
Zanthe: “I actually don’t do a lot of prep, because I find all the stories that I read, which are ‘liberal,’ come from pretty mainstream places like The New York Times. But I’ve gone down the Jezebel route, which I wouldn’t have otherwise, in trying to stump him.”
Talking it out
Andrew: “One thing about the podcast is that it’s forced me to think about things that I think many men [avoid]. It has been good in that way. ... There are other elements where I was feeling a certain way about things — less liberal and more conservative — and it has firmed up some of those beliefs. So it’s been a mixed bag. But it’s definitely been interesting and fun, and thought-provoking.”
Zanthe: “Ironically, I think it’s made me a little bit less angry than I would have been, because if you listen, you can tell that Andrew and I have a blast doing this. To know that every two weeks I’m going to have a chance to sit down and talk about serious issues and argue with him but also laugh a lot and see the human side of what’s happening is incredibly reassuring. So it kind of provides me an outlet for my anger that then dissipates the anger. I feel like that’s really helpful because when you’re online, you’re just banging your head against the wall a lot of the time.”
Interview conducted and condensed by Brett Tomlinson
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