Friday, November 26, 2010

Online Break Rooms

The American Psychological Association has just released its 2010 Stress in America Findings (for the .pdf version click here). I've heard plenty of complaints that the internet causes all kinds of stress, but surprisingly about a third of those surveyed reported surfing the internet as a method of managing stress.

I think it's all in where you surf and why. I view the internet as an endless virtual library with work rooms, play rooms, art exhibits, movie theaters and concert halls. You can join other explorers or lurk around by yourself. And yeah, there are also a range of not so great places, where the unwary can be pecked to pieces by hen parties, fleeced by scam artists and sold shoddy goods by the unscrupulous, but with a little common sense you can avoid all of them.

When I'm writing I like places where I can visit during my ten-minute breaks to have some fun (I employ a kitchen timer to keep me from spending more than ten minutes.)

Wordle is definitely my favorite online break room; I probably visit at least twice a week now. My latest trick is to feed it long lists of synonyms for my story keywords to get title ideas (poetry works great, too) or for descriptive bits that I'm having trouble composing.

Thanks to Gerard over at the Presurfer, I just discovered White Jigsaw, a virtual point-and-drag game with a puzzle that grows larger each time you solve it. Although at first glance it may seem intimidating, it's really not that difficult. I find it rather soothing (I also get tired of it quickly so it doesn't suck my brains out of my skull and tempt me to stay longer than ten minutes.)

I've always been something of a fiend for crossword puzzles, so I have to be careful when I go over to to take a break there. But I like this site because if you put in the wrong word it highlights it with red letters, and it's simple enough for a kid or anyone as technochallenged as me to use.

My oldest online break room is Seventh Sanctum, where there is a generator for just about everything an RPGer or storyteller could want. Much of what I generate is tongue-in-cheek stuff, but often I find bits and pieces I can recombine and mortar together into new story concepts, character profiles, plotlines and so forth. SS also reminds me not to take myself too seriously or slip into the blues, something I've really needed lately.

Do you think the internet is a stress-inducer or a stress-reliever? Where are some of your online break rooms? Let us know in comments.


  1. for me? both. absolutely...*G*

    I don't think I do enough just 'playing' online-although the good Lord knows I talk enough. ;)

    One site I do like when I'm stressed is I can haz cheezeburger. Makes me grin and my kids love it.

  2. Lolcats are always a good break. So's Zooborns, baby animals born in zoos. And there's always tons of fascinating stuff to learn about at TED. And of course the APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day).

  3. Keita Haruka11:04 AM

    To me it can be both sanctuary and source of frustration. I use the net mostly for social interaction via instant messenger and social forums, for information (news, research etc)and just for fun (games, reading, music and general silliness - I love demotivational posters for example). As an Administrator on various social forums, it can be very frustrating dealing with recalcitrant members - not to mention buggy forum software)and of course, in any social environment, you'll have your differences with people, even with friends. Overall, the net is as much part of my professional and social life as Real Life is. I can't name all the ones I go to. There are too many. Social sites are mostly furry-related and include places where I put up my writing, news sites, blogs, automotive interest, foodie sites...whatever catches my fancy at any given time.

  4. I used to play Freecell, but now it's Facebook games, mainly Pet Society, Frontierville, and the occasional solo game of Scramble.

    I also check in on some favorite message boards, ie And I check for new blog posts to read via Google Reader. I also look at photos on flickr and check for new discussions in the flickr groups I've joined.

    Somehow, that eats a lot of time, but I do find it relaxing.

  5. is one of my favorite stress reducing and joy enhancing websites. Check it out on one of your really bad days.