Many of us are addicted to the pretty pictures and curated clicks that Instagram and aspirational lifestyle type blogs can offer. I totally get that. For sure. We’re probably also more familiar than we’d like to be with sites that offer alarming or mean-spirited content. Yep.
As an online writer – and a lover of good and simple things – I have weird, neurotic concerns about online content that might be… disposable. More and more, the headlines and images we click on are designed to bait us for exactly 4 seconds. (Yes I know that’s why it’s called clickbait!) My thinking is that the value of those interactions doesn’t matter to their publishers – it’s just the click that counts.
Not to be all hoity-toity and up myself, but on my own blog I really DO TRY to write stuff that’ll be useful in the long run (not just for the next 4 seconds.) I reckon there’s WAY TOO MUCH litter online and I try not to contribute to the rubbish pile when I write here. Hopefully.
For me it’s not JUST the click that counts – although I love visitors, of course. The measure of the worth of my work is that I said/posted something I loved and cared about, that people want to read it and that they might share it with their friends. If they keep coming back to it, that’s a bit of a win too.
This is how I measure the stuff I read, as well. Did it make me feel something big? – not just due to cynically crafted click-baitery. Did it make me wonder? Or remind me of something? Or encourage other ideas? Did it make me feel excited or delighted or admiring or inspired or transformed or surprised? These are the kinds of feels I’m going for here. (Probably I don’t always succeed, but I do my best.)
So in the spirit these excited/delighted/admiring/inspired/transformed/surprised feels. In support of non-trashy, useful writing, here are a bunch of ace types that are posting good stuff written with heart, smarts and hope.
We need bright ideas and clever acts to stop us in our tracks and get us thinking about what me might think/feel/do in our own lives.
It’s so much better than those 4 second clicks, IMO.
1. Austin Kleon – almost daily posts on living an ace life and being creative from the Steal Like An Artist author.
You could start with: Just Don’t Lose The Magic
2. Brain Pickings – not always super cheery, but always super interesting providing thoughtful perspectives via the lives of artists, writers and other clever cookies.
You could start with: Sister Corita Kent’s Timeless Rules For Learning And Life
3. Rookie – Rookie is an irreverent, intelligent site for teenagers – but I love it because it shows how smart and sensitive kids and young adults are.
You could start with: How Not To Care About What Other People Think Of You
4. Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls – Another site that’s meant for teenage girls. I know. I know. The thing is, a lot of the blogs for grown ups have not caught up with issues of diversity and the rise of technology. Getting down with the kids is sometimes the best way to cut to the chase, find out what the REAL issues of the day are – and how we might think about dealing with them.
You could start with: Meet The 11 and 13 Year-Old Founders of Books And A Blanket
5. Science Of Us – I love this blog so much. It’s part of NY Mag and they post interesting and up-to-the minute articles on how we tick (biologically/psychologically) and why we do what we do. Such a great antidote to all the faux-science, wellbeing wu blogs out there!
You could start with: So You Probably Have 3 Selves
6. Colossal – Because ‘Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.’ Colossal features daily updates of rad things amazing people have made. It’s a hopeful and delightful place.
You could start with: Pirate Printers – Shirts and Totes Printed Directly On Urban Utility Covers
7. GOOD Magazine – This is a long-time favourite of mine. A safe place to go when you need to find out that the world is actually going to be kind of okay. Sort of. We hope.
You could start with: Italian Policemen Comforted An Elderly Couple With Homemade Pasta.
8. It’s Nice That – This genius blog covers art, culture and design in a non-tossy way. They’ve always got the scoop on the beautiful things that people are coming up with and I read it most days (and feel instantly more well-informed and awe-struck about the world.)
You could start with: Charles Fréger’s Enigmatic Island Of Scary Monsters and Super Creatures
9. Etsy Blog – If you want to take a peek into the lives of artists and crafters, Etsy are very good at throwing back the curtain. They spend a lot of time and energy profiling creative people and I for one LOVE seeing what makes those types tick.
You could start with: Featured Shop: Yu Square
10 Dumbo Feather – I’ve written for Dumbo Feather a couple of times, so let’s say that up front. I love these guys because they publish the work of interesting writers and profile people I might not otherwise know much about. It’s great to find out how other people think and feel and DF does this in spades.
You could start with: How The Dying Can Teach Us To Live
11. ABC Australia – This is a bit of a broad recommendation and indeed a non-blog – and you have to dig through a lot of newsy bits – but pretty much without fail I find a story on the ABC that makes me go ‘Cooool!’ Because they have great shows like (one of my very faves) Landline in their stable, as well as direct links to ABC Local Radio and Radio National, they are constantly publishing local stories that are inspiring or impactful (or both!)
You could start with: World-class Leatherworker Doug Kite Donates Collection to Museum of Victoria or Sea Lake (which is really amazing!!)
12. Bust – The blog of feminist magazine Bust is a pick and mix of politics, music, art, pop culture and more. I check it out every single day and it never fails to get me thinking/giggling.
You could start with: Martha Stewart And Snoop Dogg Squad Up To Host Reality TV Show
I hope this post has been helpful and taken up more than a dirty 4 seconds of your time! Have a rad day!
Footnote: It’s worth remembering that you’re creating your own bubble via sneaky online algorithms – if you click on crap, Facebook and Google think you love crap. They will work hard to show you more crap – and filter out the stuff that is of more value to you. If you DO LOVE crap, you’re all sorted, but if you’re just clicking idly as you crack your gum and roll your eyes, you are sending a message you might not want to send to the cogs and wheels within the internet that choose what you see. Uh-oh.