Procrastination gets a lot of flack, particularly in our culture of “efficiency” and “deadlines” and “colleges with forty thousand dollar a year tuitions that you probably shouldn’t flunk out of.” But I respect procrastination, for I recognize that it is not a character flaw but an art, requiring a delicate balance of total immersion and silent reassurances that you will begin in just five more minutes. Procrastination is not mere time-wasting; it is the act of taking time, laughing at it, crumpling it up, tossing it in the trash can, burning the trash can, and making ice cream with the ashes. It is, in short, a far more useful skill than the ability to write twenty pages on the experience of women in India’s Partition without having understood a single word said by the professor all semester and still getting an A (though there is something to be said for that skill, as well). That being said, here are the Internet’s 5 biggest time-sucks.
This is for anyone who likes lists that are interesting and engrossing but a lot less funny than they think they are. I believe there was a study done on how our attention is better kept by short bits of information than by long chunks; this website milks that principle dry. I hope I don’t sound too condescending; trust me, it’s motivated by the shame of more Sunday afternoons than I’d like to count spent learning about 9 Famous Movie Villains Who Were Right All Along or 5 Things TV Writers Apparently Believe About Smart People. This site will make you feel terrible about yourself as a person and about humanity at large, but only because it is so engrossing.
(2) Not Always Right
I used to work at a library, which allows me to say with moderate certainty that the vast majority of people can boast the approximate intelligence of gravel. Someone once asked me whether we had any books. At the public library. But, the benefit of working with patrons who would lose a game of tic tac toe to a squirrel is that my dinner table was always quite entertained. In other words, stupid people are funny. This website has thousands of stories of customers being stupid. Most of them are probably made up, and the rest are fabricated, but who doesn’t like to be made to feel smart by other people’s sheer idiocy and obliviousness? Just be careful, because I once made the mistake of staying on this site for too long and I lost all hope in my fellow man, so you want to be sure that doesn’t happen to you.
(3) A.V. Club
I’m probably revealing a whole bunch of things about myself by including this site, like that I’m an nerdy elitist liberal intellectual who probably likes foreign films and indie rock. (That would actually be quite accurate, come to think of it.) But this is a fantastic site to get a perceptive pop culture fix, with reasoned analyses of media and intelligent commenters. I will take a moment to allow that to sink in – the comment boards on this site are populated by rational, smart, mannered people who never call anyone a Nazi. It is a very weird corner of the Internet.
(4) T.V. Tropes
Everything. That is the only way to describe this site. Everything. Everything you have ever noticed, observed, commented on, or questioned in any piece of media ever made by anyone is here, and that’s only a small fraction of the information on this site. The crazy, neurotic, obsessive compulsive losers who populate this site catalog and categorize literally everything about media. There’s a page for Angst Dissonance for when a character’s whining gets out of hand and Hollywood Darkness for when the lights go off in a movie but “pitch black” is actually “vaguely bluish” and examples of works for all of these. This is the kind of site that incites the opening of 40 tabs in a browser window and a determination to not go to sleep until all of them have been read. It is directly responsible for me flunking my 11th grade Chemistry AP test.
Who among us has not succumbed at one time or another to the vast virtual quest that is Stumbleupon? Who among us has not wasted many an hour on the promise that the next stumble will be something intense and life-changing and not another video of a cat eating a hot dog? Stumbleupon is a last resort tactic. One should only begin stumbling when one is about to begin work, for stumbleupon is a dangerous, dangerous tool, one that must be used wisely and with great responsibility. But once you begin, beware – stumbleupon is uniquely tailored to our attention-deficit, eternally curious society, and it will draw you in like a Friday’s with a 2 for 20 deal. And, hey, cats eating hot dogs awww.