8 of the best places on the internet to keep you from falling into doomscrolling despair
- It's easy to find yourself on an endless doomscroll, wiling away hours in a bottomless pit of internet angst.
- But fear not! Insider has compiled a list of some of the best places online to find sweet relief.
Let's be real: there are plenty of places you can go if you want to engage in sniping, vitriolic debates, and snark online. There are way, way, fewer places you can go — in 2014 Upworthy parlance — to restore your faith in humanity. In 2023, the anonymity of online spaces makes it easy for people to melt into the worst sticky popsicle versions of themselves with few real-world consequences.
But even so, there are still a few bright spots on the internet, places that aren't all trolling and toxicity. We've rounded up our favorite URLs — places you can visit when you need a dopamine hit or a reminder that AI deepfakes haven't become our overlords quite yet.
Below, read (and bookmark) our best places on the internet.
Catluminati: The best cat creator on TikTok
Cat videos are one of the internet's most time-tested genres. But the best purveyor in the space right now is Catluminati – or Christopher Watson, a Tacoma, Washington, resident known for roaming around his neighborhood and greeting a familiar and lovable cast of cats.
@catluminati I knew this cat looked familiar! #catwalk #catluminati ♬ original sound - Catluminati
Watson's viral "cat walks" take one to two hours, he says, during which time he greets up to 15 animals. The regulars are known by nicknames like Naptime, Scratch-a-lot, and Cow Mary — and Watson's signature move is seeing whether or not the cats pass his "pick-up test," or if they tolerate being cradled in his arms "like a baby." Most of them do. The cats are obsessed with Watson, and rush to greet him during his neighborhood strolls – like when Lego leapt down from a rooftop and Bamboo dismounted a nearby tree — in order to pile into his lap or nuzzle in his arms. (That's not to say he also hasn't occasionally found himself amid a dramatic standoff.) In addition to all of the love, Watson has used his platform of 1.9 million followers to help raise money for his followers' veterinarian bills, and he's also spoken movingly about loss, including a poignant eulogy for neighborhood favorite Area Rug Mary.
"I know that she's in heaven right now doing big stretches and kissing bushes," Watson said. — Geoff Weiss
Casey Neistat's pre-vlog archive
Back in 2010, when I definitely should have been doing schoolwork, I was hopping through URLs on StumbleUpon instead, a clever website that took you to random places all over the internet, added by other users. This is where I first landed on a Vimeo video made by New York-based filmmaker Casey Neistat. I was immediately hooked and thrilled to find he had a YouTube channel too.
These days, Neistat is a YouTube superstar, well known by his 12.5 million subscribers for his fast-paced and chaotic daily vlogs. But before that, he kept a sporadic upload schedule, where he might post back-to-back videos in the space of a few days, or disappear for weeks at a time.
While I waited for fresh uploads I would simply return to the old ones and watch them repeatedly, trying to figure out why they were so hypnotic. In 2011, he made a video about his new wallet, which, on the surface, sounds completely mundane, and yet I've probably watched it over 50 times. I was a big fan of the daily content too, but a decade on, I find myself scrolling past all the flashy vlogs to revisit his older stuff instead. The comment section doesn't bustle like the recent uploads, but that's part of the charm. —Andrew Lloyd
The New York Times
Spelling Bee forum section
For days when you're not feeling The New York Times crossword but want a little brain challenge, the Spelling Bee is a happy alternative. The premise: Simply to see how many four-letter-or-more words you can make from seven letters; as you make more and more words, you move through the rankings from beginner to genius-level. Since the game appeared on the Times' crossword app in 2018, it's attracted a dedicated group of regulars who rush each morning to solve the Spelling Bee and offer each other a series of clever hints to help solve the puzzle.
Beyond the helpful tips they provide, there's also a sweetness to the exchanges between Bee devotees. They share among each other poems and factoids (April 27th was World Tapir Day, did you know), snippets of their days, and extremely corny jokes. You would not believe how much they argue over the word "teff." When The New York Times union went on strike in December, the Bee community didn't do the Spelling Bee in solidarity.
There are dozens of reasons to love the thoughtful, considerate Bee people. But perhaps the best thing about them is the gorgeous sense of gratitude they express for one another, something you don't often see in virtual spaces.
"Thank you to everyone (yes, everyone!) who reads, likes, and replies to my posts," wrote one commenter on a recent Thursday. "I'm grateful for each and every one of you, and that's the truth. Bee well. Bee kind. Bee happy." — Julie Gerstein
The comment section of Architecture Digest YouTube videos.
The comment sections of most celebrity AD house tour videos are overwhelmingly positive and thoughtful. It's an old guard as far as internet places go, but I'm as delighted every time I scroll through people's reactions to celebrity's uber-luxe home tours. I think it may be because I assume a lot of (understandable) vitriol and resentment toward a celebrity displaying their wealth but commenters are generally thoughtful and kind.
Home tours — no matter how unattainable their status and designs are — show one's humanness. Commenters are constantly surprised by a celebrity's aesthetic, and how connected they seem to their living spaces, given how often they travel for work.
"This is the best celebrity's house. Lots of arts. Lots of plants. More importantly, Vanessa is very happy talking about every piece of it," a top commenter wrote on Vanessa Hudgens' house tour last year. "This house shows like a very undiscovered side of Vanessa," another weighed in. "I love how she didn't show her closet and showed all the other parts which were meaningful for her."
It's also delightful to watch people flex their architecture and design knowledge. — Tanya Chen
"Pinkcoree," a tiny corner of TikTok, where cats and chaos reign supreme
"Pinkcoree" is a TikTok micro-scene filled with adorable cats, sloppy game footage, and a panoply of chaotic sounds. The videos are like parodies of classic Call of Duty edits — but instead of taking the gameplay seriously and trying to look flashy, they're disjointed and distorted. The 15-second montages are ridiculous and escapist: a quick blast of surreal cuteness.
@sillykittays More silly kitty videos :p#CODSquadUp #sillycat#catwithlashes#cat#kittycat #kitty#iiyt#kittycat#pinkcoree#pincore#sillykittay ♬ original sound -
The subgenre dates back to a user named pinkcoree, who began making an infant version of the style back in early 2022. The genre started popping off and racking up millions of views late last year after a batch of other video makers — babulehov, pibegang, and blitzman27, to name a few — began using the tag #pinkcoree and creating similar flurries of endearing cat gifs and unhinged memes. — Kieran Press-Reynolds
My chaotic apartment Facebook page
When I moved into a new apartment last year, I couldn't tell you the last time I'd opened Facebook. Like many people, over the course of a decade, my feed had gone from my primary source of online interaction to a bizarre time capsule populated by baby pictures from old coworkers whose names I barely remember and posts about "16 Cat GIFs To Make My Day" — it gave me exactly nothing.
This all changed when my landlady found out I was trying to furnish my place on a pitiful budget, and pointed me in the direction of my apartment complex Facebook group where people often post things they're willing to sell or give away for free. After an initial disaster with a second-hand Kallax unit, I swore off buying anything that was advertised as "dismantled," but I quickly realized the group was far more than a bootleg Craigslist, and it's become one of my favorite places to lurk when I need a short burst of internet pick-me-up.
In the past year, I've spent more hours than I care to admit scrolling through the chaotic stream of my neighbors' posts — I've experienced a lower-stakes version of the endorphin rush of online shopping when I was the first to claim free plants I can't keep alive or a $2 sushi plate set that I absolutely didn't need; I've been riveted by hours of petty drama about kids making too much noise in the communal pool and people complaining about the scent of "herbal substances" wafting down the hallway. But most of all, it's given me a sense of community that metropolitan cities are notorious for lacking. I may not be able to pop next door for a cup of sugar, but I do know that I can open up Facebook and find people willing to loan a stranger their parking spot for a visiting relative, or collectively organizing to protest the increasing cost of using the laundry room. And as a single person living alone in London, that's exponentially more likely to perk up a bad day than even the cutest of cat GIFs. — Sirena Bergman
Bible journaling: A creative expression of personal faith
Bible journaling content creators bring viewers with them on their months-long, and sometimes years-long processes of turning their personal Bibles into works of art. Verse by verse, and chapter by chapter, these creators film themselves transforming a typically plain-looking and rather chunky text, painting intricate designs on the covers, and adding thoughtful illustrations next to various passages. The appeal of Bible journaling content is similar to that of many other "oddly satisfying" artistic trends on social media — such as adult coloring or color matching. It has a relaxing effect on viewers and creators alike, but with a distinctly personal twist.
Many creators share their convictions and revelations about particular verses in the Bible, as well as stories about their faith journeys. As a Christian myself (albeit one who often struggles to highlight one sentence of my own Bible in a neat, straight line), I often turn to Bible journalling content when I'm looking for inspiration and encouragement from creators using the art form to engage with their faith in new ways and to slink into relaxation mode when I'm trying to hide away from the online drama and feuds that otherwise tend to saturate my feeds on social media. — Charissa Cheong
George Saunders's short story Substack, 'Story Club'
George Saunders' substack "Story Club" is a rare space on the internet and one that could only exist because of it. It's where curious people from across the world are loosely brought together by a shared love of fiction, and can access some of the best quality education from one of its pre-eminent experts for $6/month. So much online life, designed to maximize engagement, can become snippy and self-righteous. There's often little room for curiosity and duality — two of our best qualities and key components for happiness and empathy. "Story Club" is an exception.
As Saunders wrote in a recent email, short stories are an opportunity to "take a gentle walk through the mind of a person from another world entirely... looking for traces of ourselves." A good one can actually "broaden your sense of what a human being is or can be." Such a statement may sound grandiose, but Saunder's tone is anything but: he's funny, warm, and unfailingly humble. It's obvious that he's as much a perpetual student as he is a skilled teacher. (Saunders is, in fact, a longtime professor at Syracuse University's prestigious MFA program, which admits only six students per year). To introduce his newsletter, Saunders explained that the experience of writing "A Swim in a Pond in the Rain" (a precursor to this substack) gave him "a deeper, less fearful engagement with the world." For me, "Story Club" has a similar effect. — Mara Leighton
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