Fun, distracting websites for down-time
April 14, 2016 5:27 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know of enjoyable websites, blogs, subreddits, online magazines or other publications that are intellectually engaging but deal very minimally with current events/politics?

During this election season, I've fallen into this trap of reading news websites and blogs, as well as their comment sections, whenever I'm bored or have down-time. The problem is these articles and especially the comments often really irritate and upset me and make me feel very overly emotionally invested in the election but I can't stop. I find reading them almost compulsive at this point and the moment I open my laptop, I instinctively navigate to a news website.

I was wondering if anyone knew any websites that were an enjoyable distraction without having to do with current events. Not necessarily like online games or puzzles but things that involve reading in some way--I really like reading about history, politics, neuroscience, sociology, travelogues, critical analysis of pop culture, even wilderness survival narratives and stories about adventure travel. I'd just like to read about them while being very minimally exposed to current events. Some things I've found that work are the AskHistorians subreddit on Reddit, the websites LongForm and LongReads, AV Club and of course, MetaFilter. Does anyone know similar websites that have interesting content but deal very minimally or not at all with current politics?
posted by armadillo1224 to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 196 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer:
posted by davebush at 5:34 PM on April 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I like Aeon quite a bit. I also like American Scholar. Sy Syfransky's The Sun has some good essays occasionally.
posted by My Dad at 5:36 PM on April 14, 2016

When I need something like this I navigate to a random page on TV Tropes and lose an hour of my life.
posted by phunniemee at 6:21 PM on April 14, 2016 [6 favorites]

laughing squid is pretty great for this.
posted by shortyJBot at 6:24 PM on April 14, 2016

Best answer: The Atavist Magazine.
posted by naturalog at 6:28 PM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Arts & Letters Daily
posted by John Cohen at 7:04 PM on April 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Have you ever clicked on the "random article" link on the Wikipedia sidebar?
posted by SMPA at 7:11 PM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Colossal: Art, Design and Visual Culture
posted by Ostara at 7:12 PM on April 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I sometimes like to browse random newspapers from the early 20th century, reading the human interest stories, looking at the ads, and generally taking a quick immersive trip to the quotidian past. Elephind
posted by Chrischris at 7:53 PM on April 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Oooh, ooh, my RSS feed is set-up to deal with this exact same issue!

- 3 Quarks Daily. Recent articles: A Revolutionary Discovery in China; Morality, Alliances, and Altruism; The Paradox of the Elephant Brain
- Atlas Obscura. Recent articles: The Czech Republic is Changing Its English Name; Why the Last Words of Anne Boleyn Remain a Mystery; What are Bollards, and Why Are They So Beautiful?
- Brain Pickings. Recent articles: John Steinbeck on Racism: His Spectacular Response to a Bigoted Priest; How Music Helps Us Grieve; Amanda Palmer on Art, Love, Motherhood, Vulnerability, Trust, and Our Lifelong Quest to Feel Real
- Farnam Street. Recent articles: The Narrative Fallacy and What You Can Do About It; Can We Reason Our Way to a Better Morality?; Roger Fisher on a Better Way to Negotiate, Part I
- Kottke. Recent links (he's an internet aggregater): Minecraft: more than just a game; 135 design facts; After civilization collapses, plants will take over NYC
- Nautilus. Recent articles: Why Nature Prefers Hexagons; No, You Can't Feel Sorry for Everyone; The Other Crisis on the Mexican Border
- Pacific Standard. Recent articles: Is Teaching Kids Empathy Just as Important As Teaching Them Math?; Understanding Consciousness By Altering It; The Fight Over the Future of Grizzly Bears
- Barking Up the Wrong Tree. Recent articles: The 4 Rituals That Will Make You an Expert At Anything; How to Deal with a Narcissist: 5 Secrets Backed By Research; This is the #1 Way To a Happy, Healthy, Long Life
- Snippets of Random. Recent articles: Plain talk about ugliness; How straight couples meet; A brilliant NZ safety video designed to prevent texting and driving
- Big Think Recent articles: What Happens to Tattoos When You Remove Them?; How Our Minds Were Once Shaped by Poetry; Variety is the Key to Healthy Bodies - and Societies
posted by Jaclyn at 8:37 PM on April 14, 2016 [56 favorites]

So the Australian website called "The Conversation" is kind of like what you are after, I think. It's articles by academics, but aimed at the educated general public. Some will be political, but that's generally going to be Australian politics, and anyway, you can skip it by using the "Arts & Culture" tab or the "Science and Technology" tab or something instead of the main front page.
posted by lollusc at 9:10 PM on April 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

The Public Domain Review
posted by bongo_x at 9:59 PM on April 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Gonna humbly suggest Open Culture
posted by rundhc at 12:18 AM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think you'd like NextDraft - stories aggregated and amusingly introduced by Dave Pell.
posted by Frenchy67 at 10:37 AM on April 17, 2016
posted by SisterHavana at 10:20 PM on April 17, 2016 has some fascinating stories to read for your longer periods of downtime.
posted by Simon Barclay at 5:56 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

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