More often than not, people find it hard to confide in people they know. Whether it’s out of fear or the belief that their problems aren’t worth a loved one’s time, most people find it easier to keep their issues to themselves. However, sometimes people find it easier to confide in strangers. Chris Gethard’s podcast, Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People (more often referred to as Beautiful Anonymous), is built upon this very idea.
Beautiful Anonymous is an ongoing podcast where Gethard accepts hour-long calls from anonymous strangers. They are given 60 minutes to discuss whatever they please. After their allotted time is up, the phone call automatically ends. However, callers are free to hang up any time before the hour’s over. Gethard, on the other hand, is not.
Some calls begin with the stranger filling Gethard in on their day, while others start with a specific story or joke. Regardless of how the interaction begins, the calls generally head down an emotional path.
The first episode begins with a male caller engaging in small talk with Gethard. He discusses how prior to the call, he concluded a 30-minute work break, finished his work, and was now leaving the building to take a short walk. By the end of the episode though, Gethard encourages the man to scream at the top of his lungs (in what seems to be a public place) about how he will accomplish his life goals.
While not every episode features intense yelling in crowded areas, most calls hit a point where the conversation transitions from small-talk to therapy. Listening to this podcast, you suspect that callers dial in hoping to unload any emotional baggage. At first, they may think it’s too inappropriate to do so in front of thousands of listeners, yet they eventually end up airing their burdens to the world. This is mainly due to Gethard’s sympathy and inclusion.
The episodes that don’t feature cathartic meltdowns or touching truths compensate by placing Gethard in conversation with someone who inevitably educates him about a once-foreign topic. One caller highlights the misconceptions and truths about PTSD, explaining why soldiers suffer from it. In another episode, a man from a Jewish background talks about his experience with balancing religion and family, as well as his thoughts on some of Judaism’s practices. When Gethard becomes the student, rather than the mentor, he isn’t afraid to ask questions and dive into the specifics of the subjects.
Beautiful Anonymous is a diamond in the rough. Few things are as therapeutic as listening to two strangers help each other with their problems, with one sharing insight on the other’s situation in ways that the other might never have considered.
As someone who finds themselves constantly lost in internal monologues while working or worrying about small issues, this podcast is a godsend. Sometimes it helps to listen to other people’s problems rather than worry about your own. Who knows? You might even learn to cope with your own problems through those of another person.