What is like MetaFilter, but not brutally depressing?
April 27, 2016 4:50 PM   Subscribe

MetaFilter is one of my main inputs. I get a lot of news and thinking about the world here. The problem is that it can make me feel terrible about everything, which is already kind of my baseline. Friends and family often express concern when I have been reading MeFi a lot. I am curious what sites you read that have similar properties, but are not as heavy and challenging, so that I can balance my consumption of MetaFilter and MetaFilter-like things.

A few notes about what I am looking for:
  • If there are comments, I want to actually read the comments on purpose and not hate myself for it.
  • I used to hang out on reddit a lot, but much of the culture there has become horrible, and I've come to sort of loathe the site's mechanics.
  • Technical content is cool, but I already see more of that than I can usefully absorb, so not-primarily-technical suggestions would also be neat.
  • Photos are cool. I miss the version of Flickr that people actually used.
  • I would like to read (hear, see, etc.) more stuff from a diverse crowd that is not primarily/exclusively focused on social (in)justice.
I am basically just looking for some internet that will help buffer me against a sense that the world is hopeless, horrifying shit and everything is catastrophically doomed.
posted by brennen to Computers & Internet (25 answers total) 142 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I think maybe you want the Toast?
posted by WidgetAlley at 5:24 PM on April 27, 2016 [15 favorites]

Some suggestions in this recent question on fun distracting websites; not sure they meet your comments requirement though.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:42 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

The comments at Techdirt are generally pretty good, but it is almost all tech content.
posted by COD at 6:43 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding The Toast. The comments there are 100% safe and well moderated.
posted by MsMolly at 7:14 PM on April 27, 2016

Best answer: Maybe you should keep using Metafilter but just start fiddling with the settings so that you only get the kind of content you're looking for? I only recently learned that you could filter by tags - I bet that with some judicious adjustment and experimentation with different add-ons you could shape an experience that's better for your mental health. Take a quick glance back at the links/discussions you find stressful and the tags associated wtih them, and go from there?

And yes! The Toast is a beautiful site to behold.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 7:18 PM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I read Hacker News a lot and it might match your criteria. It is basically a Silicon Valley version of MeFi but once you get past all the venture capital and programming content there are some really good and insightful comments on it. Most of the time I just skip the article and just read the comments because I generally learn more and enjoy reading different the opinions.
posted by z11s at 8:21 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Though it's not a website, I depend pretty heavily on Dave Pell's NextDraft email newsletter. It's a fun mix of links and snarky asides about current news along with interesting long reads and sidebars. No comments, but you don't have to keep up with the world, Dave will do it for you!
posted by lhauser at 8:31 PM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I find This is Colossal always uplifting.
posted by dhruva at 8:52 PM on April 27, 2016 [8 favorites]

Best answer: It's kind of a marmite thing, but dropping the :10bux: and joining the something awful forums is one of my better internet decisions. It's a weird place but its roots in web culture run just as deep as mefi. Just don't post in FYAD, even if people tell you to.
posted by Sebmojo at 9:27 PM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Tooooast! Much of what they do is hilarious and light hearted. There's a healthy dose of People and their Stories. Comments are moderated.
posted by meemzi at 10:26 PM on April 27, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the great pointers - I already kind of know about a lot of the mentioned things (and I'm a pretty heavy RSS user), but the reminders to look at various good things are helpful. (I don't know why I haven't been paying more attention to the Toast.) I'll leave this unresolved for a while yet and see if anything else accumulates, with the additional note that things like e-mail newsletters and lists and such outside of the web proper are more than welcome and I should have specified that in the first place.
posted by brennen at 10:37 PM on April 27, 2016

I like Digg for this.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 12:03 AM on April 28, 2016

I Love Everything is smart and much less uptight than Metafilter in general.
posted by dydecker at 12:28 AM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

I never read the comments so I don't know what the actual community is like there, but I find Neatorama to be worth going through the front page twice a day, for the fun and other stuff.
posted by hippybear at 1:25 AM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:26 AM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: A little leftfield, but pick up a Nintendo 3DS (they are quite cheap now) and a copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Don't be put off that it looks like a young child's game.

And that "game" - if it is a game - is subversively and relentlessly positive and uplifting. The community starts as you and a community of animals, but after a while you can travel in a kind of dreamspace to other people's communities (over the net), and invite other people to yours.

It's relaxing, fun, compelling, and tied to the real world clock. If there's an (optional) fishing tournament tomorrow at 3pm, that's the date and time in both the game and the real world. There are a lot of characters, who say a lot of unpredictable things, and a lot of music, and you can choose what to do and when to do it.

Representative review, especially the last three paragraphs.

No matter the mood, a dip inside AC:NL makes me (and a lot of others) feel good during and afterwards. Getting back to your original core question, there are a *lot* of community websites and other social media related to Animal Crossing, and these communities are often - like the game - positive in nature. Animal Crossing itself may not be the real world (and perhaps that is a very good thing), but the people who play it, and visit each other in it, and comment on websites and social media about it, *are* from this world. Enjoy.
posted by Wordshore at 10:31 AM on April 28, 2016 [5 favorites]

The man of twists and turns, I don't know if you're joking, but the Fark I used to belong to (before I discovered Metafilter) had some pretty brutal comments. Maybe they've changed, I dunno. But it's not a place I think of as lighthearted.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:05 PM on April 28, 2016

Also, don't give up on Flickr. Yes, the community aspect with group discussions is largely gone, but many people still upload there. You still find little knots of communities forming around the photos of a few people every now and then.

Talking of pictures, there is also Shorpy which has lots of interesting historical content. Today, an unusual picture from the Library of Congress. Comment quality varies.
posted by Wordshore at 2:28 PM on April 28, 2016

I got enormously tired of repeated questions on "what should I do about my depression?" The folks asking for counseling via metafilter... wore me down. A lot.

So I subscribe to popular posts instead, and since those posts repeat all the time, they don't normally make it into that stream.

posted by talldean at 4:35 PM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

This thread just reminded me I've been meaning to subscribe to the RSS feed for Atlas Obscura.
posted by MsMolly at 8:55 AM on April 29, 2016

Just a note about your reddit criteria, I can't imagine reading general "all" ever, I think I looked at it once to see come controversy that I probably found here first. But some sub reddits, perhaps mostly the technical - not sure of other, are quite focused and highly moderated. Mine are /r/spacex, /r/macninelearning, /r/math, /r/movies (mixed bag), /r/boston (local stuff) , /r/science.
posted by sammyo at 10:13 AM on April 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Note: if you are a female-identified person, don't read Hacker News at all. Reddit is entirely doable if you carefully curate your sub-reddits and never, ever go outside them.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:43 PM on May 4, 2016

I felt the same way and started reading the Good News Network. (Not related to the concept of talking about Jesus/Christianity as "the good news" -- It's a website that only posts good news.) I use that not to hide from the world but rather to balance it.
posted by TheClonusHorror at 12:18 PM on May 6, 2016

Twitter is entirely what you make of it. StackExchange sites can be entertaining. GitHub repos can be interesting.

Yes, your newly curated Twitter feed might consist entirely of lawmakers trying to pass bad laws, innocent black people being executed by cops, and the U.S. military murdering people, but that should not make you depressed. It means you are seeing a very narrow segment of the news that focuses on the stuff that needs to get fixed. It doesn't mean you need to spend all your time trying to fix it either. It simply means that you know. And you can mention it when appropriate. It means you're being a better citizen than most people.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:47 PM on May 6, 2016

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