Your newsfeed is depressing.
Each new scroll reveals a fresh headline about police brutality, the migrant crisis or Donald Trump's latest bigoted comment. It's hard to stay up on all of it, let alone to understand what to think of it and what -- if anything -- there is to do about it. But don't fret. We have an easier -- and far more entertaining -- way for you to stay up on the issues that matter: podcasts.
These seven podcasts will give you fresh, smart commentary on the things you need to know, delivered in an accessible -- and often hilarious -- way. But fair warning: once you start to podcast, you may never go back.
Covering everything from pressing social justice issues to the curiosities of human nature, these shows are guaranteed to make you want to laugh, cry and maybe dismantle the white supremacist patriarchy.
Here are the seven podcasts you need to hear to be a better person:
What's it about? Two hilarious (and occasionally drunk) women talk about everything from current events to workplace racism to squirrels.
Yes, this has been on every other top podcast roundup in the last year. But we couldn’t do a podcast list without it. Heben and Tracy deliver whip-smart commentary, always through their thick (and amazing) lens of feminism and racial justice -- and they're just funny as hell. To top it off, they bring on an amazing guest each week -- think Ta-Nehisi Coates and Melissa Harris-Perry -- to have a drink and share their wisdom.
Must-hear episode: Ida Bae Wells, featuring this choice quote: “The passive-aggressiveness of progressive people will kill you.”
What's it about? The trials and tribulations of being a parent -- or any member of a family, frankly.
“Whether the show is covering bi-racial parenting, accidental pregnancy, being a pregnant butch or parents trying to rediscover their sexuality despite the addition of a small human to their household, the show covers topics with humor, frankness, grace and actually useful advice,” writes The Guardian.
Must-hear episode: Mama don’t understand, featuring a 6-year-old girl rapping to her white mom about how proud she is to be black.
What's it about? Lena Dunham talks with cool people about love, work, bodies and relationships.
Why you should listen: the show features voices that we don’t usually hear on radio -- a transgender gynecological nurse practitioner, a musician without legs who prefers to navigate life on a skateboard -- telling their own stories, which is awesome. Caveat: a significant portion of this show is Dunham asking her friends to reassure her that she’s a good person (see: writer Ashley Ford in episode one telling her she’s not a racist, and Jemima Kirke from "Girls" in a bonus episode telling her she’s a good boss and a good friend).
Must-hear episode: Body, featuring the incredible Janet Mock. She talks about her best friend in 7th grade, also a trans girl, who walked up to her and said: “I know you’re trans. Why are you pretending that you’re not a girl? Let’s just go ahead and do this.”
What's it about? Self-proclaimed nerds Eric and Brittany dive deep into the random topic of their choosing -- from Beyonce to the stigma of mental health.
Every episode kicks off with this: “These are the conversations that black people have when white people aren’t listening -- but we record them.” Chatting about the gentrification of Brooklyn or the cultural appropriation of Iggy Azalea, they'll have you laughing hard and thinking harder.
Must-hear episode: Dear White People. While white people are admittedly not their target audience (and rightfully so), if you are one of the many white people on the long and uncomfortable journey that is recognizing your own skin privilege and trying to be a better ally in the fight against white supremacy, this is a must-listen.
5. Hidden Brain
What's it about? Science correspondent Shankar Vedantam unravels the things that drive human behavior, and how biases affect our decisions -- and our lives.
The podcast "helps curious people understand the world -- and themselves." The episode topics are gloriously random -- varying from “why most economists might as well be studying unicorns” to an interview with Aziz Ansari on Tinder, texting and online dating.
Must-hear episode: Stereotype Threat, featuring the only woman at the table during the 2004 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions, and how she used sexism to her advantage to win the whole thing.
What's it about? Two feminist besties talk politics, progressive stuff and periods.
This one is for the ladies. And by ladies, I mean the kind of lady who likes her daily dose of girl talk served with a side of righteously outraged feminist banter. The show is hosted by Aminatou Sow, an award-winning digital strategist, and Ann Friedman, a columnist for NYMag's The Cut.
Must-hear episode: Sexy Bellybutton Feeling, featuring giggle-inducing samples from Hillary Clinton’s email dump.
7. Tara Brach
What's it about? Making meditation easy with guided sessions in your pocket.
On the road to being a better person, a lot of people stop by meditation. All of the famous people do it, for all of the good reasons, but still, it’s hard. If you’re even remotely considering meditation, this is the podcast for you. The guided sessions run from eight to 25 minutes, and each one begins by patiently guiding you through the shockingly difficult act of just sitting still and breathing.
Must-hear episode: Ten-Minute Basic Meditation Practice, to get you started on your journey to mindfulness.
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