Born of a piece of performance art, Sleepover is a podcast by Sook-Yin Lee. In the show, now starting its second season, three strangers spend a night together, sharing their stories in a bid to solve one another’s problems. At Bello Collective, Galen Beebe interviews Lee about the show. Equal parts documentary and social experiment, Sleepover is transformative as a listening experience, creating true human connection in world of constant online communication, where emojis and stickers rule and 130 character limits leave us skimming the surface of important issues.

Galen: I’m not surprised people might be reluctant to participate — they have to vulnerable to a huge audience, not to mention the three strangers in the room. How do you get your guests to be vulnerable?

Sook-Yin: Most interviews happen within ten minutes. They’re focused on sound bites; people enter and they mostly present their presentational self. Being in Sleepover, it may begin that way and we’re all pulled to put our presentational self forward, but just the sheer fact of being in there for so long, you can only fake that for so long. Everybody is together in this experience, and a challenging one at that! We’re co-creators together. We’re all under the same stresses and in the same shared, intense undertaking. It’s almost like we’re in a marathon together. So I think that vulnerability comes from that. And I think the vulnerability comes from actually expressing and sharing that which is meaningful or disconcerting or scary with one another, and when you see somebody and hear them open up in that way, you’re more inclined to do that.

I have noticed that people will come to a sleepover with what they think is the problem, but invariably there is a deeper level to their problem. So on the surface it might be like, I am lonely and I would like a friend. But when you get beyond that elusive friend, what is underneath that, you know, why are you wearing armor? What’s happening? What is it that’s disabling you from letting people in? And then probably when you figure out the sublevel of that problem, the sub problem of the problem and the more meaningful problem, there’s likely another one underneath there, so really problems are just another word for life.

Read the interview