Wasting time on the Web
Procrastination. Every student does it. Some do it better than others, however. When there’s a 12-page paper due in the next couple days, the Internet can be used in two ways – as a bona fide research method or as a weapon of mass procrastination. Here are a few sites that can provide for some top level entertainment for a student’s hour of stalling need.
Everyone knows the easiest way to kill a few hours when you’re supposed to be working on a paper is seeing how far the rabbit hole goes in the related videos sidebar. Search for a particular song and all of a sudden one is inclined to dig up a band’s entire discography, live cuts and b-sides included. Beyond allowing access to the obvious things like super-popular music videos and movie trailers or hilarious viral videos, the ’Tube offers some genuinely weird and intriguing stuff. For example, check the video of Guinness World Record holder Kent French, the fastest clapper in the world. Watching French clap his hands together 14 times a second brings to mind one of the most basic Internet axioms – no matter how good anyone is at anything, someone on YouTube is better at it.
The definitive online encyclopedia might seem like a rather dry way to procrastinate, but the site offers near limitless information on nearly any subject imaginable. One can peruse thousands upon thousands of articles about topics ranging from Project Orion, an abandoned method of space travel propelled by controlled atomic explosions, to a chronological history of every flavor variation of Mountain Dew ever released to the public. There is truly something for everyone here. Additionally, the WikiQuote page is also pretty entertaining – look up pretty much any celebrity, and this site produces a plethora of quotes attributed to that celebrity. Who knew that George Washington apparently said, “Make the most of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere”? If one is extremely bored, there are a couple of rudimentary link-based games playable on Wikipedia, such as “The Road to Hitler.” Go to any random Wikipedia article and, using any links to other pages in the article, attempt to get to the Adolf Hitler Wikipedia page in five clicks or less – depraved procrastination at its best.
Web comics tend to be fairly niche in nature, often pertaining only to a narrow demographic of viewers such as gamers or music fans. Explosm, however, is a rare exception in that it’s an extremely accessible, extremely hilarious online comic that publishes once a day. Since 2005, authors/illustrators extraordinaire Matt Melvin, Rob DenBleyker, Dave McElfatrick and series creator Kris Wilson have churned out thousands of near-universally adored daily web comics. While sometimes commenting on popular culture, the strips tend to focus on a cynical and offensive sense of humor, with subjects ranging from necrophilia to terrorism and everything in between. Contrasting with the dark comedic content, the animation is simplistic, even childlike in nature, adding to the implied irony in most of the strips. While there’s no structured plot or character development amongst, there are some recurring fan favorite characters that tend to pop up every once in a while, including Charles the insensitive boyfriend and The Purple-Shirted Eye Stabber. Look at a few of these, and you’re likely to scroll through a hundred or two more.
The Best Page in the Universe (www.maddox.xmission.com)
Infamous Internet rant machine George Ouzounian a.k.a. Maddox has been regularly offering up satirical pieces about manliness and misanthropy since the inception of “The Best Page in the Universe.” Notorious for his no-holds-barred criticisms of modern society and various social groups like PETA and women’s rights activists, Maddox’ page has hundreds of sarcastic and sidesplitting essays with titles such as “Why change your car’s oil when your girlfriend can do it?” and “Love your children? Prove it be beating them.” Maddox has perfected the art of systematically verbally destroying everything that is universally loved; a particularly funny group of articles is his series on critiquing children’s artwork, titled “I Am Better Than Your Kids.” Another popular section on his website is his responses to e-mails he receives, pointing out the logical fallacies and typos and even posting the e-mail addresses of those who send him hate mail. While The Best Page in the Universe started in 1997, Maddox has gained more fame recently after the success of his book “The Alphabet of Manliness.” His latest book based off of his “I Am Better Than Your Kids” pieces is available for pre-order now.
Dave Coffey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.