Recently I installed an extension on Firefox that blocks websites according to whether you enter the url for that website. I added some websites that were causing me problems but I’ve still found that I spend entirely too much time on the internet. So I’ve created a list of websites or parts of websites that seem ‘safe’ to visit. Criteria is that after visiting the website I don’t feel too much guilt and sometimes actually feel as though I’ve learned something and spent my time in a marginally productive way.
Usually when I read this advice column I learn something that I can envision helping me somewhere along the domestic road. I actually pay pretty close attention to what I’m reading, which contrasts my average attention level while on the internet, and even have acquired some knowledge about laundry that I’ve put into practical use. This is a model ‘good part’ of the internet.
How it avoids the ‘too much of a good thing’ problem: A seemingly healthy website can turn out to be anything but if it lends itself easily to debilitating addiction. There aren’t too many of the Clean Person blog entries, plus I can’t be interested in cleaning tips for too long. If you try to read many articles in succession you run across similar pieces of advice, so it naturally lends itself to a ‘once-in-a-while’ sort of deal.
qwantz.com is a webcomic, a family of webpages which are almost never good for you (featured in the post image–those witty dinosaurs what we all love so much). A couple things make qwantz exceptional. One is that often times the author seems to have done extensive wikipedia research about a given topic so that you pick up a quirky fact or two about sea creatures or Spinoza or cetera. Also, qwantz avoids the two problems that seem to plague many of the webcomics I fall into, in that its neither gloomy as fuck (PFSC, Cat and Girl, even achewood has this issue) nor is it just full of itself or pompous shit (xkcd, SMBC, Penny Arcade). This means that you neither feel depressed or too much like a tool after reading it. It also has a novel way of avoiding the ‘too much of a good thing’ problem: the artists uses the same dino panel over and over again, therefore making it nearly impossible to read too many comics in a row without your eyes glazing over and refusing to focus on whatever dimestore font the dude uses.
Learning about fashion may be a serious internet vice for some but I always feel accomplished after I look at trends. I believe Foucault said that if you know what Kanye was wearing last weekend it is equivalent to wearing that outfit yourself.
How it avoids the ‘too much of a good thing’ problem: before I can get disgusted with myself for spending too much time looking at clothes, I generally get disgusted with the idea of fashion and capitalism in general, thus cutting short my time on gq.com with righteous confidence. Or else I get sad about the amount of money I own, but in, like, a motivational way.
editors note: and after writing this post I ended up spending an hour on this slideshow rather than writing a thesis. So, not as innocent as I had thought.
A dark horse candidate for internet browsing to be sure, but fun to treat as sort of a inane Amherst wiki. But unlike wikipedia.org, definitely not a candidate for this (by any means), amherst.edu makes you feel like you’re learning something about the community in which you live. Aww. It also has some straight hilarious webpages; part of the reason that I included it on this list was so that I could link to the Recreation: Trails and Points of Interest page.
How it avoids the ‘too much of a good thing’ problem: Most pages on this website are boring as all hell. After five minutes you end up on the ‘history of the philosophy department’ or ‘guidelines for a premedical student’ webpage and are just like, fuck it, I’m doing homework.