In search of consumerism-neutral time-wasters
April 12, 2016 7:53 AM   Subscribe

So, like many people, when I need a break at my desk I tend to look for something mindless on the Internet. I'm trying to get out of the habit of defaulting to fashion and beauty forums, which I like because they're low-effort, have pretty things to look at, and tend not to get me worked up about politics or whatever, but hate because I get the impulse to buy things I don't need. It's not causing a financial problem but I just don't want my time-wasters to lead to a shopping spree.

I'm looking for new outlets that are all of the following:

1. Consumerism-neutral. This means places that don't promote consumerism, but also don't overtly promote minimalism, because weirdly enough I get caught up in minimalist ideals and get the urge to buy things to achieve them (If I just got this one new thing, I could get rid of three perfectly good kitchen appliances!).

2. Mindless and easy. As much as I'd love to be the person who learns a new language or studies philosophy for fun, it's not going to happen during the workday. When I'm looking for a break it's because my mind needs a rest. So I want something that's quick and easy to access, doesn't require a lot of thought, and is relatively free of drama and fightiness.

3. Frequently updated or always different. Blogs are nice but I take several breaks throughout the day and would like to know that if I go to a site, there'll be something new to see. So, like Metafilter or maybe a quick game that you can jump right into, like Geoguessr.

I'm trying to stay off Reddit because it's too tempting to drift to a "bad" subreddit like /r/femalefashionadvice, but I would consider Leechblocking the "bad" subs as a last resort. It's not ideal because it's too easy to get around the block just by uninstalling the plugin or using another browser.

I use an adblocker with Firefox so it's OK if the site has ads, as long as the content itself isn't super sales-y. Suggestions for Android apps are also welcome.
posted by mama casserole to Grab Bag (27 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
on-line jigsaws keep my partner happy.
posted by andrewcooke at 7:56 AM on April 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Humor, perhaps. Collect bookmarks for you favorite cartoons.
posted by SemiSalt at 8:08 AM on April 12, 2016

I find bloglovin' really really helpful for this. Add every blog you come across that you like, and then you have a curated just for you list of new articles to read whenever you need a break. I have mine set up around hobbies, food blogs, and travel blogs but really, you can pull anything to it. I have a job with lots of downtime, and it is the best thing I've found for killing time without just shopping online.
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 8:43 AM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I used to read a lot of Thought Catalog, but they've gotten increasingly clickbait-y in the past year or so. And obviously Buzzfeed is constantly churning out content, some of which is pretty good, but a lot of their lists anymore are things like "21 Things You Have to Own To Complete Yourself As A Person!!!1!" and things like that, and may not be best for avoiding consumerist pitfalls.

So the biggest thing I do anymore when I want to kill time online in a low-key way is load up my Feedly queue with home design blogs. That way I get to see pretty things, but I'm not tempted to buy any of it. (Pin it to my "WHY DOESN'T MY HOUSE LOOK LIKE THIS?" Pinterest board, perhaps, but not buy it. They're normally not sales-y blogs anyway.)

I'm not sure what your aesthetic is, but some of my favorite OMG PRETTY HOUSE blogs are Blood & Champagne, My Scandinavian Home, Desire to Inspire, and Design*Sponge.

Those four all have the benefit of being fairly active as well, and throwing them all in an RSS reader tool will probably net you a fair amount of pretty, pretty content all throughout the day. Hooray!
posted by helloimjennsco at 8:44 AM on April 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

If going "oooh" over pretty things satisfies you, and you want to avoid the temptation to buy, have you considered any of the forums devoted to royal jewellery?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:10 AM on April 12, 2016

Thanks for the suggestions so far! I do use Feedly and Flipboard, but either the blogs I follow don't post regularly enough or I just don't have enough, so I tend to read through what's there pretty quickly, and when I check back in again later in the day, I'm lucky to have one or two unread posts. So specific blog/RSS suggestions along the lines of helloimjennsco's post are welcome (anything you got--I don't want to get too specific about my interests because I want a broader range of things).

Keeping in mind again, nothing too shoppy and nothing too fighty (so blogs that get tons of drama-filled comments, like Ask a Manager, are probably out). And I'm definitely not JUST looking for blogs.
posted by mama casserole at 9:13 AM on April 12, 2016

I find zooborns relaxing. It has little articles on newborn animals at zoos and aquariums.
posted by FencingGal at 9:17 AM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites] Some purchasable things, a lot of pretty to look at. It's not updated super often, but has a lot of past material to poke around in.
posted by Fig at 9:19 AM on April 12, 2016

If going "oooh" over pretty things satisfies you, and you want to avoid the temptation to buy, have you considered any of the forums devoted to royal jewellery?

Mmmm yes this sounds perfect. Any specific recommendations? And then I promise I'll go away for a while.
posted by mama casserole at 9:19 AM on April 12, 2016

I do most of my mindless time wasting by playing very easy puzzle games, like the NYT Kenken and Sudoku or Chain Factor (also available on iOS as "Drop7"). The Sudoku can be especially mindless if you set it to "Auto" mode where it populates all the candidates for a given square and you just pick the right one.
posted by telegraph at 9:23 AM on April 12, 2016

This place is great for jewels (and general matters monarchical).
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:26 AM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've been doing the crossword puzzle thing lately.

The buzzfeed puzzles have declined in challenge, but they are better for a nice 5 minute break than, say, BEQ's Monday and Thursday offerings.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:39 AM on April 12, 2016

If you like jewellery, The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor has amazingly detailed histories of royal tiaras.
posted by Azara at 9:42 AM on April 12, 2016 [7 favorites]

StumbleUpon is an add-on to Firefox that, once you identify the categories in which you are interested, will take you to a relevant page whenever you hit the Stumble button on your toolbar. I'm having trouble providing a link, but you can search for it under add-ons with Firefox.
posted by DrGail at 9:45 AM on April 12, 2016

If you like jewellery, The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor has amazingly detailed histories of royal tiaras.

derp! how did I miss this one? Is excellent magpiedom. (Royal jewels followers call themselves magpies, often.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:51 AM on April 12, 2016

Recycled Movie Costumes tracks down interesting costumes which re-appear in newer films and tv series.
posted by Azara at 10:01 AM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I like to hop on Sporcle for quick quizzes. The logic puzzles can be pretty tricky!
posted by saturngirl at 10:15 AM on April 12, 2016

I browse real estate listings for the fancypants towns around me. I know I will never live there, but they give me design ideas and oohs and ahs.
posted by writermcwriterson at 11:10 AM on April 12, 2016

Go Fug Yourself is great. They are funny, and have the fashion angle but are not shoppy, they post frequently and the comments section is very low drama. Its one of my favorites.
posted by Shal at 11:55 AM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I love Tom and Lorenzo for being a fashion blog that does not have age or body politics. They will critique red carpet garb etc for how it suits the wearer but they do not (and do not tolerate in their comments) make any recommendations, friendly or snarky, none at ALL, as to whether someone should lose or gain weight. They are interested in the idea of taking what's there and turning it into someone who can say "Everyone wants to be me or do me." They're really nice guys. If you do a search there for the royal wedding coverage, you will love them, too. Memorably: This picture of the Queen etc with the caption: "Betty looked adorable. Like Winnie the Pooh in a dress." WHICH IS SO TRUE

I also like some games for time burning, including Guess My Word and Just Get 10
posted by janey47 at 1:34 PM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, blogs/websites on an RSS feed are the way to go for this. Some suggestions:
- Atlas Obscura - random interesting historical and pop-culture-ish articles. Sorta like Damn Interesting.
- Colossal - intriguing art and sculptures
- Flavorwire - smart commentary on art/books/pop culture/movies/tv
- the Atlantic - decent coverage of news with some commentary/long-form articles thrown in. There are different subject areas you can subscribe to - City Lab is cool, for example.
- Apartment Therapy - some design-y articles, some clever how-tos, some content from their sister site The Kitchn
- Sad and Useless - weird/funny images grouped together into a theme
posted by Jaclyn at 3:34 PM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

For looking-at, geology and aerial photography and landform sites; and animal biology news. Always something new.
posted by clew at 3:42 PM on April 12, 2016

Jotto is a fun word game that can kill a few minutes
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 6:14 PM on April 12, 2016

The URL/name is kind of awful, but I like Cabin Porn for this. Beautiful pictures of cabins and similar small, rural dwellings all over the world.
posted by jeoc at 6:19 PM on April 12, 2016

Here's a couple of fun random factoids blogs that normally don't have scary comments sections:

Mental Floss
posted by helloimjennsco at 7:13 AM on April 14, 2016

OH! One more and I'm done, I swear. I have killed HOURS on Not Always Right and its ever-growing complement of sub-blogs. This is assuming that hilariously awful customer service stories are your jam.
posted by helloimjennsco at 7:15 AM on April 14, 2016

Thank you so much, everyone! I've added a ton of these to my Feedly and bookmarked some of the game/trivia sites also. I'm not going to Best Answer anyone because I'd be Best Answering almost everyone, but OMG and OMG!
posted by mama casserole at 10:35 AM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older Do a Thing Night   |   What limitations does the BBC put on employee... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.