The famous scientist Albert Einstein might’ve said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and mis-attributing different quotes”. The famous author Rita Mae Brown definitely wrote in her 1983 novel Sudden Death that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” The famous Musician and Family man Charles Manson once asked the world, “Do you feel blame? Are you mad? Uh, do you feel like wolf kabob Roth vantage? Gefrannis booj pooch boo jujube; bear-ramage. Jigiji geeji geeja geeble Google. Begep flagaggle vaggle veditch-waggle bagga?”
Pretty insane, right? I don’t really know how the hell those quotes go together or how accurate they even are to the source material (especially that last one), but I know that the grinding monotonous boredom of our weekly routines can drive us all pretty insane sometimes. Granted not psychopathic hippie-cult insane, but still, pretty insane. School and work entails doing a lot of the same things over and over and over and over and over and over again, usually for five times over in a single week. If you don’t have any outlets to vent all that stress and frustration and ennui into, it can drive you crazier than a wolf kabob Roth vantage on a bear-ramage.
But there are a lot of great ways you could combat boredom. Go to the movies. Skydive from the stratosphere. Go hiking in the woods and challenge a grizzly bear to a fist fight. Challenge her cubs while you’re at it. But what about some cheaper, higher tech ways of having fun that are less likely to end in grievous bodily or psychological harm? What are, in my warped and asinine opinion, the best apps, websites, and other weapons for brutally and efficiently killing time? Well you could always…
1. Play Some Free Games
While there’s no denying that video games can be a really damn fun, addictive, and engrossing time killer, it can also kill your wallet. Like, nuclear orbital laser strike level kill. From DLC to “season passes” with more levels and content, several mainstream AAA $60-70 dollar games have come up with evilly ingenious business tactics to gouge the dollars out of players. Hell, it’s hard to even enjoy most free games anymore without being bombarded by ads and in-app purchases. So what do you play when you want those fun, addictive, and engrossing gaming experiences, but don’t have a disposable income to blow?
Well that’s where the anarchic Wild West of the Internet comes in! Obviously you should be mindful of what you’re downloading so you don’t end up with any unwelcome toolbars or pop ups plaguing your browser, but there are plenty of fun, free, and cheap games you can grab without the financial or viral hassle.
The Internet has made it more possible than ever for indie developers to share their betas and ideas free of charge. Ever want to challenge yourself to an 80’s themed race on a neon lit course free of charge? You can with the Drift Stage demo. Ever want to experience the adrenal rush of dominating your opponents in violent mechanized vehicular warfare free of charge, without the risk of life and limb? Give Hawken or World of Tanks a try. Ever aspire to develop your own weird shooter or play other people’s weird shooters free of charge? Look no further than indie game jams like the 7 Day FPS Challenge, but, if you want a really interesting experience, I’d recommend checking out the lost and totally legit Sonic games leaked by the devs at Arcane Kids. You’re in for a surprise…
Sure, quick Google search for “free online games” will pull up a quintillion more results than this list, but the few I’ve mentioned are just some of my personal favorites. But what if you aren’t into video games, what could you do then?
2. Pick up an Art
Modern art has become an even more anarchic medium than indie game development. People have pawned off everything from beanies (as a joke) to blank canvases (as an unironic and not-at-all lazy and not-at-all pretentious statement whatsoever) as artistic masterpieces worth millions and millions of dollars, and with the Internet, it’s easier than ever to lazily sell your stuff and masquerade it as having a deeper intellectual worth than the lint in your belly button. Unless your lint is actually deep and intellectual, I’m not one to judge…
But seriously, it’s ridiculously easy to teach yourself an art. Aspiring to write? Publish your works free on sites like Wattpad, LuLu, or CreateSpace. Don’t be afraid to freelance your writing and pursue your niches, for profit or for an internship (like this very site). Like photography or filmmaking? You don’t need a $500 DSLR to get started. With various editing apps from Tadaa to even Instagram’s built-in editor, even your phone’s camera has a versatile range of options for adjusting things like color correction, depth of field, and composition. Still confused or don’t have a smartphone? You could always use free desktop editing softwares like iPhoto (on OSX) or Gimp (an open source), or read up on some how-tos and tutorials online, like this terrible one. (I couldn’t draw a circle if my life depending on it, but I’ve mastered the art of shilling down pat…)
If music is more your niche, there’s plenty of free mixing softwares you can experiment with to get the sounds you want. Beatwave is a simplistic music producing app that lets you make different beats on the spot by tapping your fingers. If you want something a little more comprehensive, Cross DJ lets you mix and mash up tracks for free and upload them directly to SoundCloud. Ableton Live 9, one of the most popular and widely used mixing softwares by producers, has a 30 day free trial. It costs an arm and a leg if you want the full subscription, but think of all you could do in that month!
And, if you can draw or paint circles if your life depended on it, you could share them on sites like Pinterest or Etsy, or look up How-Tos made by YouTubers much more qualified than I am. Or actually make pocket change off belly button lint art, which is actually a real thing apparently. I won’t judge you. Weirder things have happened. But if that’s too weird, you could always just…
3. Binge on Podcasts
I can’t even count how many times I’ve been recommended different TV series, movies or books because they’re “the best” of their respective genres. To be fair, most of the ones I’ve gotten around to checking out are good, like Breaking Bad or Martin Scorsese movies, but at the end of my workweek I don’t have a million hours to binge on the entirety of Game of Thrones or The Wire. I don’t know about you, but writing for two publications and hunting for legendary weapons and armor in Fallout 4 are considerably bigger priorities than watching Emilia Clarke ride a CGI dragon.
But the one medium I can consistently binge on amidst all the hectic chaos and insanity and all the wolf kabob Roth Vantage are podcasts. Of all the mediums of storytelling, podcasts are probably the most transportable. As long as you have them downloaded to your phone or streamed via internet connection or 3G/4G signal, you can literally take them anywhere. You can take them with you on your commute to work or school. You can listen to them in the middle of studying or cramming in an essay last minute. Hell, if you want to be really productive at killing time, you can listen to them and be entertained while cramming other entertainment through your retinas and earholes. Now that’s brutally killing some time. Sure, it’s not revolutionary; talk radio has been a thing for decades, but now you can listen to it without the garbage AM quality and stupid commercials! And for the few stupid commercials there are, just mash the 15-second skip button on iTunes. It’s not rocket science, but Netflix for radio? If that’s not an amazing modern innovation, I’m not sure what is.
I can’t tell which podcasts you’d be interested in from behind this screen, but I can tell you a few of my favorites. WTF is hosted by comedian Marc Maron, and twice a week he’ll interview different creative minds, everyone from fellow comics to musicians to filmmakers to writers to THE PRESIDENT (on Episode 613) as well as share his own musings on life. Like movies? Then you might (or might not) want to consider How Did This Get Made?, where Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas, and Diane Raphael contemplate that question. Or maybe think about The Worst Idea Of All Time, in which friends Guy Montgomery and Tim Batt devised the brilliant torture method of screening Grown Ups 2 every week for a year. As of 2015, over 3o0,ooo different podcasts exist in the world. Like weird, useless, but really intriguing facts? Check out No Such Thing As A Fish, where you can learn about all sorts of bizarre, unnecessary knowledge like why biologist Stephen Jay Gould concluded that there was no such thing as a fish. This was from the “Hoax” episode so I don’t know how credible it is, but there’s a whole ton of other stuff you could learn. And if none of these podcasts are your thing, there’s over 300,000 podcasts that exist in the world as of 2015. I’m sure you’ll find something. Hopefully these’ll help alleviate the madness of boredom for you, but if not…
4. Find Your Own Niche
Like I’d have any better idea.