Warning: most of these sites are NSFW! Click through at your own peril. You have been warned!
1. Free Tetris
Starting the list out right: an addictive spatial-relations game that I see people playing on the subway almost as much as I see CandyCrush going. Free Tetris is that old standard, and you and I both know that when you get the L-shaped block when you need the tall skinny one, things are about to head south in a bad way. Don’t tap your keyboard too loudly or people are going to wonder why you’re about to have an apoplexy — unless you’re a programmer, in which case, carry on. Take a few rounds to get used to the controls before you try for ninja master, otherwise you’re going to be cursing out your fingers’ muscle memory instead of clearing rows at hyperspeed.
2. Thought Catalog
Thought Catalog is a site that accumulates user-submitted essays and op-ed pieces (and, lately, a huge number of lists) of varying quality. While not everything is top-notch, there’s enough compelling pieces to keep a person clicking. Recent additions have included an “after dark” offering, consisting of more mature (read: sexually-charged) topics and musings. The archive averages 20 new articles every day on topics as varied as current events, feminism, relationships, life as a 20-something in a big city, and so on.
Imgur might LOOK like just another image hosting service, but don’t be fooled. The official image host of Reddit and Stack Overflow boasts a robust, weirdly engaging community in its comments section, apt to make snarky comments and explain the joke in the picture to passers-by. I can honestly say I’ve idly hit my right arrow and found myself sinking 3+ hours of a morning into looking at Imgur’s top pictures for the day. The best (worst?) is when Imgur goes into the weird place between U.S. West Coast going to sleep and Australia / New Zealand / Japan / Singapore / India being at full wakefulness. Still: the comments section, the sheer array of what ends up on the front page, and the variety of content (cute! funny! nostalgia! interesting! lifehack!) makes Imgur a hidden gem of addictive content. Plus, Imgur tends to do a regular Tumblr roundup…meaning I haven’t been on Tumblr in 3 months.
This one’s a little bit cheating, but Etsy is an online retailer of handmade and custom-designed goods. The reason it’s on this, however, is because there’s a huge number of creative fans who make awesome things for the stuff they loved. Do you like HALO videogames? You can get a replica of Master Chief’s helmet. Love Adventure Time? There’s plush toys, replica swords, earrings, hats, and prints. The sheer amount of Cool Stuff ™ on Etsy is unfathomable, and one could easily spend hours and days cycling through the ever-increasing inventory of amazing unique items.
5. Questionable Content
Running since 2003, Questionable Content is a daily webcomic about Martin and his cadre of indie-music-loving friends and the social circle he gains over time. He also has a personal robot friend, but that’s neither here nor there. An awesome comic whose art style has evolved dynamically over time with a massive cast and over 2000 pages, it’s the perfect way to lose a week of your life without realizing it. As a bonus, since it’s a very popular comic, there’s an active fan community for it on just about ever social media platform you could think of. (Yes, even Google+.)
I love Cracked.com. I’ll admit it. It’s the site that MADE internet humor lists a thing. In fact, you can see their influence in this article: my snarky asides, various outside links, pictures, but I’m lacking the profanity-laden appreciation and/or scorn that usually accompanies Cracked.com commentary. The only still-living part of a humor magazine, Cracked takes on various and sundry (and ridiculous) topics all with a humorous bent for the intense. It’s super easy to get lost in their massive archive and keep clicking through as you read through Ottoman Empire haircuts and dental instruments from the Aztec civilization. Who knew Sultan Abdülmecid I rocked such badass facial hair?
7. Literally Unbelievable
Have you ever posted an Onion article to Facebook and THAT ONE FRIEND takes it seriously? No matter how absurd the article — abortionplexes, Obama is a Zoroastrian, feminists wanting a paramilitary fem-dom police state — they buy it hook, line, and sinker? Welcome to Literally Unbelievable, a site dedicated to all of us marveling how we ended up with so many people missing the joke every single time. The responses are sometimes too perfect — I wonder if they aren’t manufactured — but then sometimes the obvious frustration that the OP exhibits is too real to be faked. The rabbit hole goes amazingly deep for such a young site, leaving you closing your laptop at 4am wondering how humanity has come as far as it has.
8. Damn You Autocorrect
We’ve all been betrayed by our phones as we text our friends (fiends) that we’re running a bit late (latte) thanks to the subway (wasabi) having issues. That’s where Damn You Autocorrect comes in — a place for all of us to vent our frustrations at the inadequacies of typing with one hand while juggling bags, books, groceries, wine, and yoga mat in addition to our cell phones. On DYAC, squirrels become burglars, looking becomes looting, and suddenly everyone is a mother ducker.
9. Cyanide & Happiness
If you need a good dose of dark comedy in your life — or maybe just comedy that toes the line between hilarious and disturbing — then look no further than Cyanide & Happiness. This long-running webcoming produced by four guys in rotation features stick figures engaging in twisted, disturbing, amoral activities, all of which is played for laughs. With over 2,000 comics and a massive archive of animated shorts and upcoming sitcom-length videos, the series shows no sign of stopping and all signs of being ridiculously addictive. (Tall Justin is my favorite.)
10. Texts From Last Night (TFLN)
Once, there were drunk texts. These texts were deleted and/or laughed about come morning time. But then someone had the brilliant idea of saying, “What if we put these conversations on the internet?” Which brings us to Texts from Last Night, the endlessly scrollable site where others’ misfortunes are your entertainment. Watch as stranger after stranger — identified by area code alone — lament their actions from the previous evening. The best are the repeat offenders whose friends call them out. Funny, vulgar, and clearly filled with college kids, TFLN is a great way to see what kinds of shenanigans people are getting up (or down) to in your calling zone.
11. MS Paint Adventures (Homestuck)
Text-based click-through adventures aren’t exactly all the rage in the video game industry right now. However, in Webcomic Landia (not a real thing) we have the long-running, multi-arc MS Paint Adventures Adventures whose fourth cycle is often whispered about independently on the internet: Homestuck. MSPA is a series of panels and flash animations you click through, complete with dense chat-logs, error logs, wall o’ text panels and so on. It’s massive, updates extremely fast, and features four 13-year-old protagonists who can’t help but sarcastically comment on everything around them. While there are “save” and “reload” features, don’t be surprised to find yourself watching the sun rise while desperately clicking through gif and flash animation, panel after panel. Judging by the size of the fan presence on Tumblr and Reddit, buckle in for the long haul. (Full disclosure: I’m childhood friends with the music composer for MSPA, meaning I’m thisclose to Hussie. Be jealous, Homestucks!)
Yeah, yeah, listen, I know I’m getting pretty meta here but hear me out! If you’re reading this then you and I both know that Buzzfeed is an entirely too addictive website. Add in that the gif-laden pages tend to take longer to load and suddenly BAM you’ve whiled away that 2:30-feeling into a 10-hour binge on topics as varied as alternate deviled egg preparations, obscure Robert Redford films, and/or Best of Man Repellant. There are only so many Amazing Kanye Tweets one can cycle through, and yet the mantra is always just one more article. Not to get too existential but: ask yourself how much of your life you’ve poured into Buzzfeed this week, then ask yourself how many of your life goals you could have accomplished instead. Then feel bad momentarily before clicking through to the 37 Most Adorable Rabbit Gifs on Tumblr article to make yourself feel better.
13. TV Tropes
If you’ve made it this far, I have to salute you. The more observant of readers will have noticed that I’ve been quietly linking to this site in almost every list item above. TV Tropes is where those of us who love media can compare notes on common occurrences, genre conventions, plot points, etc. Tropes are not cliches or merely archetypes — they’re closer to media criticism terms, except with fun titles. This is the site that Reddit has users warn for links because once you start, you won’t look at media the same way again. You WILL find yourself with 30 tabs open at 3:17am reading about some obscure Korean comic book and how that series typifies some 5-layers-deep subtrope. Assuming I haven’t lost you already, I suggest starting with Playing with a Trope to see how tropes work and what a person can do with them.