Almost everything in modern society is automated, unoriginal and offered by a select few sources. We are given the illusion of choice, but in reality, there isn’t much difference in what we choose.

Mega-corporations like McDonald's, Nike, Walmart and Amazon have killed most of the unique, independently-owned sources we used to enjoy. As a society, we traded individuality and atmosphere for convenience and low prices.

The same can be said about entertainment. Everything is a reboot or a remaster, the video game industry is battling to see who can make the next Fortnite clone and Hollywood is doling out unwanted sequels to movie after movie.

Then, there are podcasts.

Related: Press Play: Podcasts to listen to this week

In the current media landscape, podcasts are the rebel in a leather jacket. There are no rules when it comes to podcasting — they are mostly unfiltered and noncommercial. They’re the purest form of free speech in modern media.

Anyone can start a podcast, which means you can listen to plenty of unique conversations from colorful and exciting individuals. They feature conversations that we tend to only have with our friends — conservations that would never be heard on TV. If you can think of a topic, there’s probably a podcast for it.

Podcasts give people freedom — a place for everyone to escape and express their individuality. With podcasts, we no longer feel lonely or weird in liking something that isn’t popular. It’s why the popularity of podcasting continues to grow each year.

Unlike YouTube, there is no learning curve. You don’t have to be a master at editing to start a podcast — I certainly wasn’t when I started mine. All you need is a mic, an idea, a host site for the recording, notes and, if you wish, a co-host. When my co-host and I began this journey in March 2017, we both assumed that a few family members, Cincinnati locals and a couple random listeners would tune in. Two years later, one of our podcasts has been listened to in more than 80 different countries.

Related: Eight addictive podcasts you absolutely can't miss

It’s an incredibly humbling experience, but more important than the ratings are the connections you make as a host and as a listener. A great podcast will make you feel like you’re in a relationship with the host (or hosts). In my experience, I went from barely knowing my co-host to becoming best friends, and I have encountered countless people that went from being listeners to Facebook friends.

I began venturing into podcasts during a dark moment in my life. Each podcast episode I listened to slowly lifted me out of the darkness, and it made me a better person.

As a listener, podcasts have motivated me. One show motivated me to try a diet involving potatoes, and I lost 70 pounds as a result. As a host, I’m constantly exposed to new ideas when I read listeners’ questions and get feedback. I’m continually learning new things as both a host and as a listener, and that’s part of what makes podcasts such an incredible form of new media.