(Ra)Tan Lines: Hello Internet

Ratan Varghese -
Posted on: January 28, 2017

“What you’re really looking at is a thin layer of meat on top of some bone with some watery sacks in the middle that look out at you as well. That’s what a face really is,” said CGP Grey.

“Wow, Grey, that’s lovely. Was that part of your wedding vows?” replied Brady Haran.

Did those last sentences excite you? Disgust you? Well, then you know what to do with the Hello Internet podcast, at least with episode 42, “Hello and Always”. The rest of you may appreciate some explanation.

Hello Internet is a podcast where CGP Grey and Brady Haran talk about stuff. It is part of a genre that they call “Two Dudes Talking”, and as usual for this sort of podcast, the appeal depends on how you feel about the two dudes. CGP Grey is cold, inflexible, sarcastic and has a deep disdain for material baubles. He has more faith in systems, behavioural or mechanical, than in sudden shifts of will and emotion. Brady Haran by contrast is warm, sociable, sentimental and earnest. He has a strong sense of wonder and is kind of childishly charming. Let’s not get too overboard here, he is also very interested in plane crashes. While they both create educational YouTube videos their pattern of production is different as well. Brady makes the most of his background in the press by interviewing prominent scientists and mathematicians and uploading their explanations extremely rapidly. CGP Grey, meanwhile, produces one short, informationally dense video with stick figures every few months. The differences in personality and lifestyle of these two dudes is the main entertaining aspect of the podcast.

Comparing Grey and Brady’s actions on YouTube and in podcasting shows the differences in the two mediums. Each podcast episode is over an hour; in fact it is very often multiple hours. Instead of their extremely well-researched YouTube talking points, the hosts make unguarded guesses and discuss anecdotes from their personal life. When a scientific or technological topic comes up, it is sometimes clear that they did no homework at all. CGP Grey fans may of course find it odd to hear Grey even talk to someone in a two-way conversation. While educational at times, education is not a core attribute of the podcast. Hello Internet is a collection of entertaining, heavily edited records of two dudes talking.

There is no single focused theme, although there are topics that pop up multiple times. The hosts often discuss items in order of increasing depth, starting with Brady’s minor complaints about the world, some observations from recent trips, anecdotes sent in by the audience, uncommon habits, flags, emojis, animals and misused words. Eventually they often arrive at big issues involving Brady and Grey’s livelihoods, a book or television show of great depth, politics, law, the nature of social interaction, the existence of free will and existential threats to the human race. There are some special episodes where Grey takes a quiz made by Brady, or regarding the Hello Internet flag referendum, or one of the recent Star Wars movies is discussed.

Hello Internet updates every few weeks. I’ve been waiting an unusually long time for a new episode but maybe by the time you read this, it will be released. “Look, I’m not saying there’s a Hello Internet in the works but, you know, I’ll just leave this link here.” reads a recent tweet by Grey. The link was to the podcast’s subreddit, which is a thing by the way.