Foisting the burden of fresh content off onto someone else is a temptation that always exists on the internet. It’s why people pass along memes and take personality quizzes rather than buckle down and share something interesting. So I do not write this “here! links!” post lightly.
I’ve read thousands of websites. Some I have felt the need or desire to go back and re-read. Sometimes the content of a site just resonates with me in such a unique way that I feel I must experience it again from time to time. They’re like old friends, much in the same way as your favorite book or video game.
These six websites are ones that I have read, re-read and re-re-read almost to the point of memorization. I don’t mean in the sense that they are bookmarked and I check them frequently for new content. No, this is old content. Static content. It doesn’t change. These six sites have affected me in some way. You might say they are the vertebrae of my internet existence.
If this all sounds melodramatic, well, I guess it’s just because I want to make it perfectly clear that this isn’t a flippant post about this cool website I found lol and pass it around to all your FaceSpace friends. These are quality sites written with a great amount of passion and dedication that I feel are worth going back to over and over again.
#1: God Ate My Balls (http://www.normalbobsmith.com/godatemyballs/)
Normal Bob Smith’s website didn’t have anything to do with how I ended up an atheist, but boy did it help me get through some rough waters. It’s tricky being a teenager and suddenly realizing you don’t believe the same thing that every adult in your life does. I actually had it pretty easy I guess; my parents never supported my lack of belief but they never condemned me for it either. (Though I’m convinced my mom still thinks it’s some weird phase I’ll grow out of.) This guy Bob, he had it even harder. See, he was dealing with all the same baggage and hashing out a premature mid-life crisis at the same time. He had every right to be angry and destructive, like so many newfangled atheists are, but instead he chose to be funny and constructive. Yes the site has been construed as offensive, but that’s all a matter of perspective isn’t it? From my point of view it was like someone had given me permission to exhale. The message to take away from Bob’s site, and the Ate My Balls section in particular, isn’t “it’s okay to laugh at Christians” but rather “it’s okay to laugh at the situation of being a nonbeliever in a world full of believers”.
#2: How to Destroy the Earth (http://qntm.org/destroy)
I love when someone takes a completely ridiculous premise and then applies absolutely unhealthy amounts of rational thought to it. This is a site that lists a whole bunch of honest, truthful, scientifically-accurate methods of destroying the planet we call home, given the care and attention to detail only a mathematician could muster. It details all the science-fiction-y methods that won’t work, too, but those are ghettoized into their own section. You can read this document and come away feeling like you might actually one day destroy the Earth yourself.
#3: Ted’s Caving Page (http://www.freewebs.com/huclan/caver/)
I’m actually bending the rules a bit on this one; I don’t actually go and read it very often… at least not of my own accord. But every so often someone will discover it and be so enthralled by it that they pass the link to everyone they know, and as a result said link drops in my lap. And when that happens I read the whole thing, start to finish, all over again. Hell, I can’t even tell if this is where the story was originally hosted. This is a fictional journal of a spelunker who finds a mysterious cave, and the strange things that occur there. What fascinates so many people about this story is the sense of dread you start to feel while reading it. The language is too dry and lifeless to be fiction, after all. And nothing overtly insane happens in the story. It… it could be real. Couldn’t it? Ted’s not telling.
#4: Work from Home (http://cockeyed.com/workfromhome/workfromhome_s.html)
Every syllable on cockeyed.com is worth reading, but this story in particular is a gem. This is one man’s journey through the seedy world of the Herbalife scam, starting with a deluge of illegally-posted signs and ending with a pretty striking exposé on multi-level marketing. I remember having only a vague idea of what pyramid schemes were before reading this article, but having read it, I can now spot them from a mile away. All of the articles on this site have a great voice behind them; they get their message across in plain English without ever talking down to you. This article has been online for a long time and has probably saved a lot of people a lot of grief. And it has lots of pictures!
#5: Reviews of Commercial Games (http://www.eblong.com/zarf/gamerev/index.html)
Andrew Plotkin’s list of reviews of adventure games is more than just… a list of reviews; it’s a series of essays on game design. This is a dude who has very clear ideas about what he does and doesn’t like in games, and why, and this shines through in every review he writes. It’s more than just “the graphics were good, the story was bad, C-.” He lays out very plainly all the parts of the game that worked, and why they worked, and why it was important that they work. This site really shaped my own opinions about game design, not in the sense that it told me what opinions to have, but in the sense that it taught me how to determine what my opinions were and how to apply them both to games I play and games I design. (I do so happen to agree with about 90% of Plotkin’s opinions, but I’m sure that’s just coincidence.)
#6: Dear Amanda (http://www.ecentral.com/members/skeller/)
This is very likely the most frightening webpage I’ve ever read. This is a very detailed account of how a man lost both of his children to the cult of Scientology. Forget the anecdotes and litigation and Tom Cruise jumping up and down on a couch; this is the heart and soul of why that particular “religion” is so dangerous. One spot of the document describes young children growing up in the cult whose parents were very clearly neglecting in favor of church duties. They are described as kids from a third-world country. I remember first reading that and having the wind knocked out of me because he was talking about a place in Clearwater, Florida. Literally ten minutes from where I lived. The cruelty and heartache on display here are very genuine and very real… and it was going on (at least in part) right down the street. Spellbinding and terrifying.
So now that I’ve dropped a few weeks’ worth of content into your lap that I didn’t have to write myself, I’m off to do… whatever bloggers do when they don’t have to write content. I hope these pages captivate you the same way they captivate me, time and again.