So you punch in the first two letters of your favourite social media website, and Google, that old, wise friend Google, already knows where you want to go. You intend to scroll for only a few minutes before returning to your POLS 101 paper – just enough time t
o be inspired or find out what’s going on in the world. But then it happens. TOP 10 SALADS FOR NATIONAL SALAD MONTH. You haven’t had a salad in a long time because it is no longer an efficient use of space on your plate at the cafeteria. Yes, you think you will make salad tonight in your dorm, so you click on the link. Twenty minutes later, you are still researching the health benefits of arugula.
Let’s face it: during the semester, procrastination will happen to us all. The good news is that if you are prepared, procrastination doesn’t have to be unproductive. We all need breaks, so having a good blog or magazine readily at hand this year could actually become your salvation from the darker dregs of the social media abyss. Here are some healthy online distractions, which I have found to be soul-soothing rather than soul-sucking when I find myself pulling up another tab.
This is my favourite place to go for a little spiritual facelift or to peruse the minds of the greatest scientists, artists and philosophers of our time. By nicely slicing big ideas into digestible articles, blogger and cultural critic Maria Popova writes about delightfully eclectic topics like “How to Neutralize Haters” with E.E Cummings, and “How Caroline Herschel, the First Professional Woman Astronomer, Nearly Died by Meathook in the Name of Science.” Don’t forget to check out the most meaningful work she does: an annual list of the best illustrated children’s books of the year.
(O.S.Y.W.T.R.B**? Great! Proposed paperback equivalent: Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke)
First advice: subscribe to their seasonal magazine in print! I firmly believe that there is nothing more therapeutic to the overworked student than mail. When I first found this magazine, I picked it off of a shelf at a bookshop in Penticton, thinking that it looked beautiful and creative. Only after reading half of it did I realize that Christians created it. Smart, informed, social justice-oriented Christians.
(O.S.Y.W.T.R.B? Great! Proposed paperback equivalent: Mars’ Hill Newspaper)
A little more adult and a little more conservative than Geez, First Things uses ecumenical dialogue to really get to the theological roots of current events. Bold and countercultural in the not-cool way, I trust this magazine to take me beyond Huffington Post and into the truth of things.
(O.S.Y.W.T.R.B? Great! Proposed paperback equivalent: Confessions by Augustine of Hippo)
Sort of like First Things, except less serious. Synthesizing a charitable approach to journalism with creative mediums for conversation, their initiative is to be a blog and podcast that connects “messy human reality with grand religious ideas.” Rather than getting rattled by that POLS 101 paper that is due in the morning, go here and listen to some “Poetry Radio,” or perhaps browse the “Civil Conversations Project,” where you will be reminded by the good, normal people in the world who are trying to make things a little better for the rest of us.
(O.S.Y.W.T.R.B? Great! Proposed paperback equivalent: For the Time Being by Annie Dillard)
** O.S.Y.W.T.R.B = “Oh, so you want to read BOOKS?”