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Pop Culture

Trevor Noah laments the loss of 'spirited conversations' and creates a space for having them

"Imagine if discussing how to navigate the minefield was as dangerous as the minefield itself. That's what I feel like we're living in now," Noah says.

Trevor Noah launches his "What Now? with Trevor Noah" podcast.

If there's one thing Trevor Noah excels at (besides stand-up comedy), it's talking about hot topics. When Trevor Noah was hosting "The Daily Show," his "Between the Scenes" segments where he chatted with his live audience during breaks often went viral. In these clips, Noah would find ways of speaking about controversial issues in a way that was clear, concise, thoughtful and wise.

With his new podcast "What Now? with Trevor Noah," he's taking those conversations even further.

A video of Noah explaining the premise behind the podcast shared by Carrick Ryan gives voice to what so many people are feeling about social discourse in the modern age.

"If there's one thing I've always loved, it's having a spirited conversation," Noah begins. "I've always loved how the words coming out of another person's mouth can change how the mush in your brain processes or sees the world that it's seen a certain way for such a long time."

However, Noah points out, people appear to be losing the ability to have those conversations. He explains that he recently attended an event where people of all ages were having "interesting" and "dynamic" conversations about difficult topics, and every few minutes he'd hear someone say, "Now, I would never say this in public, but…." or "I would never say this if I was being recorded, but…"

"So many of us have opinions and ideas about the world we live in that we are either unable, unwilling or too scared to share," Noah laments. "And I thought to myself, if we cannot have conversations about difficult things—if the conversations themselves are now the difficult things—then what hope do we have of fixing the difficult things?"

Noah compares the current conversational reality to a minefield, which is one of the most dangerous places you can step foot in because you don't know where the mines are buried.

"All you know is at any moment something could blow up," he says. "Imagine if discussing how to navigate the minefield was as dangerous as the minefield itself. That's what I feel like we're living in now," Noah says.


Noah's description of the social landscape hit home for many people who shared their thoughts in the comments.

"This is why I enjoy Trevor Noah so much—he always digs beneath the surface." – Carol A.

"That actually made me cry and I don’t know why. I feel pretty hopeless when it comes to the world. I am disgusted with the human race. We have never learned and never will, thousands and thousands of years have proven that. The helplessness of watching what is going on around me makes me numb." – Elisabeth T.

"He is talking about having a legitimate conversation. That means exchange of ideas, opinions, and experiences. It doesn't mean, 'How can you possibly believe ...?' And the response cannot be, 'I believe this completely and you'll never change my mind so stop trying.' This isn't a conversion or a intervention. It's a conversation. Know the difference." – Deb A.

"Partly because to address a controversial issue in a way to accurately say what you want requires a range of vocabulary and thoughtfulness from speaker and listener that is a bit scarce these days. Every issue is considered binary, you are judged to be for or against things. It's like standing on the edge of the minefield discussing tactics with one view as there are no mines and the other the area is one big mine." – Peter H.

Some people talked about the importance of listening to one another while others questioned whether productive conversations could be had with certain groups of people, such as conspiracy theorists or religious fundamentalists.

However, who we have those "spirited conversations" with may not matter as much how we have them. If we want to see how it's done, Trevor Noah offers a solid example. Find "What Now? with Trevor Noah" wherever you listen to podcasts.