Best places on the web for deep distraction
June 24, 2019 12:45 PM   Subscribe

What are the best sites for straight up hours of distraction while I wait for news that makes me very anxious? Where are your internet happy places?

I'm sitting here waiting for a health insurance company to decide the immediate fate of my body, as in will my gender affirming top surgery take place IN TWO DAYS or will it be cancelled last minute due to insurance shenanigans?!?

so like... help me. where's the best funnest cutest weirdest deep rabbit holey spots on the web? besides metafilter bc ive read the WHOLE THING!

xoxo thx wish me luck
posted by emirenic to Human Relations (31 answers total) 94 users marked this as a favorite
Okay so my best distraction technique when necessary is music I like PLUS goofy freemium games like candy crush, candy crush soda, bubblewitch2, diamond can play these games for a shockingly long time for free!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:49 PM on June 24 [7 favorites]

I head to YouTube, but only specific areas. Some faves are:

Bon Apetit: They make all sorts of lovely foods, with various fun, interesting hosts that all seem to like one another and what they do.,

English Heritage: The "Making X the Victorian Way" features a historical reinactor who plays a cook in a manor house named Mrs. Crocombe who is arch and dry and makes lovely things in an old fashioned kitchen. Just terrific.
posted by xingcat at 12:52 PM on June 24 [10 favorites]

OK, I discovered this as an app on my AppleTV but it's also available as a website: Neverthink, specifically the "Awww" channel. Handpicked cute videos, and they just keep coming, so you can always be like, "just one more!" It's just a (lightly) curated set of YouTube/Insta/whatever videos. Not every channel is to my taste but I just fired up the "Awww" channel and saw a goat wedding followed by an otter unboxing some kind of YouTube award. There are other channels like "WTF" and "Funny" and "Heartwarming" - YMMV but I bet there's one that will appeal to you.
posted by mskyle at 12:58 PM on June 24 [3 favorites]

Sunflower Farm Creamery has a *lot* of baby goat videos.
posted by pinochiette at 1:04 PM on June 24 [2 favorites]

I like to find interesting subreddits and set it to sort posts by "top" and set the time frame to "of all time". i've spent hours going down that rabbit hole in the following subreddits: r/contagiouslaughter, r/mildlyinteresting, r/oddlysatisfying, r/tifu (Today I Fucked Up), r/creepypms (creepy/amusing things people get in their inboxes), r/ama (ask my anything), r/iama ("I am a ___ . . . ask me anything"), r/aww (cute things) and surely ALOT more i can't remember.

also, hyperbole and a half. man have i spent ALOT of hours there.
posted by robotdevil at 1:12 PM on June 24 [18 favorites]

Two more YouTube recommendations, both from Polygon, a videogame site, but not requiring much actual video game knowledge:

Unraveled - "absurdly comprehensive videogame lore" (about a dozen videos, are about 15-20 minutes)

Monster Factory - a pair of brothers try to make the weirdest looking characters in almost any videogame that has a character creator. (the Fallout 4 series is a legit classic) (62 videos, most about a half-hour or so)
posted by epersonae at 1:17 PM on June 24 [1 favorite]

I second the Bon Appetit YouTube channel, specifically the Gourmet Makes series where a charming professional chef attempts to recreate/make slightly better versions of your junk food faves like Pringles, Starbursts, Oreos, etc. My fave episode is the Cheez-its one.

If you're open to mobile games, I've gotten deep into Lily's Garden which is a puzzle/story game that's extremely pleasant while being surprisingly engaging.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 1:18 PM on June 24 [1 favorite]

Nethack! I have literally played this all day some days.
posted by ubiquity at 1:34 PM on June 24 [1 favorite]

I can easily lose a couple hours on
posted by dotparker at 1:36 PM on June 24 [1 favorite]

Kitten rescue videos. ALL OF THE KITTENS
posted by janepanic at 1:43 PM on June 24 [2 favorites]

I love reading all the random facts on IMDb for each episode of TV shows and movies that I like. And of course, there’s the rabbit hole that is TVtropes.

Oh, and Cracked! There’s a whole archive of their random/funny lists of things going back years and years. I like sorting by Weird World or TV/Movies.
posted by Weeping_angel at 1:46 PM on June 24 [2 favorites]

I love stand-up comedy for distraction. If you have Netflix, Ali Wong's "Baby Cobra" is hilarious. I also hear good things about Hannah Gadsby. If you don't have Netflix I would suggest going to YouTube and searching on the name of any comedian you like. There are often numerous clips and sometimes whole routines.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:08 PM on June 24 [1 favorite]

I would very specifically not watch Hannah Gadsby's special for what you're looking for. Don't get me wrong, it's great. It's just... unlikely to distract you in the way you want.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:16 PM on June 24 [16 favorites]

I'm quite enamoured of Big Cat Rescue's Youtube channel, and find myself wildly entertained by the human-food-but-engineered-for-big-cat-nutrition food videos:

Big Cat Popsicles!

Do Tigers Like MARMITE?

A Pizza Party Gone Wild

Big Cat Taco Party!

Big Cats VS Melons

Big Cats Get Green Popsicles

Turkey Time At Big Cat Rescue

Also, cats in boxes:

BIG CATS like boxes too!

Big Cats like Boxes Two
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:16 PM on June 24 [3 favorites]

For me, when I'm in this kind of anxious mood, I find myself skimming the top of sites, if you know what I mean? Instead of reading them with any depth like I want to. For me what works as a successful distraction is video games, esp. strategy games that occupy my mind. Into the Breach is great for this, as is the new BattleTech game. The latter is more expensive and needs a beefier computer, but Into the Breach can play on just about any fairly recent PC or Mac.

Marvel Puzzle Quest on my phone keeps my attention but is 100% a Skinner box designed to trick you into giving them money. Ganz Schön Clever is an iOS adaption of a dice game that is usually good for 10-15 minutes of distraction at a time.

I usually combine that with podcasts. These tend to be comedy podcasts from Maximum Fun (MBMBaM, Jordan Jesse Go, Sawbones) or from the Austin Walker family of podcasts (Friends at the Table, fantasy and far-future role playing games played with a mixture of humor and tragedy, and Waypoint Radio, which discusses video games and other popular culture. These share very long runtimes, intelligence, and compassionate "wokeness," for lack of a better term--they're very good about race and gender in particular).

If you're looking specifically for things to read though, I usually end up just bouncing from MeFi to Twitter to Facebook to Instagram and back again. I occasionally go down reddit holes, (e.g. looking at the top responses to /r/AskMetafilter or doing a deep dive on some newly discovered subreddit), but most of what I use reddit for is cute or funny pictures, like /r/foxes or /r/DiWHY or /r/StartledCats or /r/stolendogbeds. I follow a couple of local subreddits and some job related ones too. There is a lot of Content there, of varying qualities.

Good luck, I hope your insurance company behaves itself.
posted by JDHarper at 2:35 PM on June 24 [1 favorite]

I have no suggestions, only wishes for good luck. My daughter went through the same thing a couple years ago and it was very anxiety provoking. She got her approval and surgery and has not looked back.
posted by hwestiii at 4:14 PM on June 24 [3 favorites]

I really love watching aquarium update and aquascaping videos. Good ones are very relaxing and enthralling. It's hard to explain. I know it sounds boring. Here's an example of update videos. For aquascaping specifically I recommend George Farmer. He endearingly rambles on and never has anything negative to say. He mostly just talks about plants that he likes and tries to explain what he's doing. It's kind of like watching Bob Ross paint, but planting things underwater instead. Here's a playlist where he takes down and then builds back up a 1200 litre tank.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 4:21 PM on June 24 [2 favorites]

these are all amazing THANK YOU SO MUCH! the decision was supposed to be by 6pm today but in true "of course, I should've known..." fashion it will now be tomorrow. about something that's supposed to happen Thursday. Needless to say I will be utilizing these suggestions heavily until then.

so far the baby goats in pajamas and The Toast and the reddit stuff have got me sufficiently stuck that I haven't dipped in the rest but I will bookmark this forever bc these suggestions all rule.
(the reddit thing about stolen dog beds I could maybe look at forever)
posted by emirenic at 4:27 PM on June 24 [3 favorites]

Frankenstein's Lab, a youtube channel in which a couple guys react to watching stand up comedian videos. It sounds ridiculous, but there's something I find compelling about these two (possibly stoned) goofballs.
posted by smcameron at 4:39 PM on June 24

I was really miserable recently from stress and other stuff, and my usual resources for distraction had run dry, so I turned to "amazing cake" compilations on YouTube (the kinds of cakes made to look like real life objects, or seven layer wedding cakes with handcrafted flowers and birds, etc). It's like watching sculpting, and I found it hit a perfect sweet spot of intriguing (what IS the final product going to look like? How are they going to use that? Etc) and zen like (lots of slow careful painting, carving, repetitive creation of fine little details, things gently spinning around in circles, paint dripping, etc)
posted by Cozybee at 2:02 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]

Good luck! My escapist portals of choice are Two Dots and itsblitzzz ASMR videos on youtube!
posted by athirstforsalt at 3:37 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]

I once went into a deep spiral of watching old videos of Julie Andrews and Harry Belafonte on YouTube and it was addictive and highly enjoyable.
posted by emd3737 at 5:22 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]

Depends on your sense of humour, but Brad Neely's voiceover of the first Harry Potter movie is pure gold.
posted by jrobin276 at 2:04 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]

Too late I guess, but imgur!
Also, good luck
posted by watrlily at 6:57 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]

Check out North of Reality and Listing to Port (previously, previouslier [is what I would be saying if I could actually be bothered to locate the times these two have been on the blue]).
posted by queen anne's remorse at 8:22 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]

Thirding Bon Appétit's YouTube channel. I especially enjoy the Gourmet Makes series, wherein pastry chef Claire Saffitz attempts to recreate various commercial snack foods in the BA test kitchen. But all of their videos are full of light, personable humor.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:37 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]

Hope things worked out for you! For future reference, I find Lily Hevesh's videos to be cheerful and fun. She's an artist who builds and knocks down elaborate domino setups.
posted by serathen at 10:03 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]

in case anyone was wondering, things did *not* work out for me and insurance actually did cancel the procedure. two days before it was scheduled. so I am dipping back in here for distractions for a different reason now, as this whole damn thing gets appealed yadda yadda yadda.

thank you all for all these amazing suggestions, this is such a great bookmark for fun stuff to watch/read for ANY reason!

:):):) xo
posted by emirenic at 8:47 AM on July 10

I'm so sorry, and hope you've received better news since then. What distracts me are puzzle-solving games like this Android game which has you exploring a bunch of different places, collecting objects and figuring out how to use them to progress in the game. It doesn't stress me out like games that require speed and is really diverting.
posted by metasarah at 12:37 PM on July 22

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