Say it’s a slow day or maybe you just don’t feel like doing anything — at least, not anything productive. The only thing that sounds good to you right now is lying in bed while you scroll through your social media news feeds for the nth time today.
But as COVID-19 lockdowns have shown us, there is, in fact, a bottom to the seemingly bottomless well of content on the internet. The good thing, though? That bottom is just the bottom of your well. Every other part of the internet you haven’t explored yet is another watering hole for content that ranges from legitimately entertaining to strangely fascinating but ultimately pointless.
Both are fine but just so you don’t end up thinking, “Why was I wasting my time on this?” here are some weirdly specific YouTube channels that are great for procrastinating but not so pointless that you feel like you’ve watched paint dry.
1. Tasting History: A Channel About Historical Recipes
Max Miller’s Tasting History is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a channel about cooking old time-y recipes from different points of history across multiple cultures so you can get a taste of what it was like to live in that era. Hyperspecific? Absolutely. But it turns out there’s room on the internet for food archaeology.
The channel may have started only a year ago, but it already sits at 896,000 subscribers at the time this article was written. Max quit his job at Disney earlier this year to focus on the channel and honestly, who can blame the guy? What he does now must be boat loads of fun.
Tasting History has the production value you’d expect from a former Disney employee. His engaging way of speaking can keep you focused even if you aren’t the biggest history fan. Plus, have I mentioned he has the voice and face of a Disney prince? Seriously, go make yourself a fresh batch of Viking blood bread.
2. Company Man: A Channel on the World’s Biggest Companies
Companies. They’re everywhere.
You’re reading this on a company’s website that’s hosted by another company using a device made by a company. There is no escape in capitalism. But have you ever wondered about how the biggest companies today ended up where they are and where the fallen giants of quarters past are now?
Company Man is your man. He specializes in company history and has detailed video essays on everything from the fall of BlackBerry, once one of the leading mobile device brands, to the secret behind Lego’s success.
Okay, maybe this one is a harder sell. But Company Man manages to make it sound like super interesting gossip rather than a dry analysis of market forces or whatever term it is that shadowy bank men use.
3. Alt Shift X: A Channel That Specializes in Game of Thrones Video Essays
If you’ve read my three thousand word dissertation on the history and members of the Targaryen family tree (yes, I’m a nerd), then you’re no stranger to over-analyzed content about Game of Thrones or, if you’re particularly cultured, A Song of Ice and Fire.
George R.R. Martin, the author of the books the hit HBO series is based on, has left hundreds, if not thousands, of tiny details that can be connected to reveal foreshadowing later in the story. This is without counting the complex histories he’s created for his massive fictional world nor the intensely moving, and sometimes horrifyingly human, character arcs his characters go through.
With a stable fanbase that’s been growing since 1996, it’s no surprise that a YouTuber would show up to turn every rock in the world of ice and fire.
Alt Shift X niche content is focused on uncovering the conspiracy theories that ASOIAF fans have about the story. He first gained traction for a six-minute video on the R+L= J theory that now has five million views. His latest banger is an hour-long video essay that analyzes the character, morals, and possible demise of Tyrion Lannister.
4. Useful Charts: A Channel That Actually Managed to Make Charts Sound Interesting
But maybe fictional history isn’t your thing. You want real history that’s not about food. You want the big boy stuff with detailed timelines and genealogies of the world’s most influential families.
What you need is Useful Charts. “Who wants content about charts?”, you might be thinking. Apparently, 886,000 people do. Useful Charts makes, well, charts about world history and even a 2020 special edition chart on how viruses are classified. The channel’s creator Matthew Baker is no stranger to pointlessly geeky stuff either. The guy made a video and genealogy chart on the Skywalker family tree.
It’s a great channel to tune out to for the same reasons that Tasting History makes for fantastic background noise. Matthew has a soothing voice that’s coupled with a slow, but not boring, pace of explaining the history woven into his charts.
One of his most strangely interesting videos is this heavily researched video on the hidden matrilineal dynasty of Europe that traces its ancestry to a French countess by the name of Garsenda, Countess of Forcalquier.
5. Pain Hours: A Channel Where You Listen to Music in a Bathroom
Let’s get the geeky stuff out of the way and move into the realm of the nostalgic and the mildly depressing.
If you’ve heard of the reverb + slowed trend, congrats, you’ve been listening to music on YouTube. The slowed trend is just one of many YouTube music trends, earlier versions of which include Nightcore and Daycore. While all three of these are focused solely on the music, there’s a new trend of YouTube playlists that come with hyperspecific scenarios to imagine yourself in while you listen. Among the classics are slowed-down songs id like to get my internal organs rearranged to and even stranger, bathroom playlists.
Yes, bathroom playlists. It’s not even music to shower to, it’s always something vaguely sad and definitely nostalgic. Just to give you an idea, the title formats are always “[Song name] but you are in a bathroom at a party.”
YouTuber pain hours has been churning out these melancholic twists on popular songs since 2020 that include “Party In The USA but you’re in a bathroom at a party” and “Last Friday Night but you’re in a bathroom at a party.”
You wouldn’t think adding a muffled effect to music makes a difference other than reducing the audio quality. But pain hours leaves its listeners feeling like time has passed by them and as if they’re listening to an idealized past that they’ll never get back to. Being made aware of time can make you uncomfortably aware of getting older and of the mortality that goes with it. It’s the channel to go to if you’re in one of those “I’m procrastinating because I’m kind of sad but I can’t tell why” moods.
6. Food Theory: A Channel Full of Conspiracies About the Food Industry
We should pull away from the sad stuff before this ends up too serious for comfort.
Assuming you’re under 40 and haven’t been living under a rock for the past ten years, then you’re most likely familiar with Game Theory. No, not the math one. The one that’s a YouTube channel dedicated to conspiracy theories about video games and hidden in video games. With 14.5 million subscribers, Matthew Patrick, better known as MatPat, has a wide reach on the internet that’s almost comparable to Pewdiepie.
With 599 videos under the Game Theory channel, you have to wonder when he’ll run out of content. Enter Food Theory, a YouTube channel centered around food-related conspiracy theories that make wild, but undeniably fascinating, hypotheses about the shady things that happen in the food industry and general food science.
7. Barely Sociable: A Channel About Actual Conspiracies
Maybe Food Theory doesn’t quite hit the spot. What you’re really looking for are seriously sinister conspiracy theories and internet mysteries.
With a low, cool voice that could belong to a detective in a black and white film noir movie and the patience to spend hours uncovering the hidden secrets of the internet, it was only natural for Barely Sociable‘s first video “Lake City Quiet Pills” to start doing numbers. His most viewed video to date is “The Dark Side Of The Silk Road“, a foray into the history of the internet’s black market trade. But one of the most mysterious and potentially dangerous topics he’s looked into is a three-part investigation on who Satoshi Nakamoto is.
Made in collaboration with Nexpo, another investigator of all things internet conspiracy, the three-part video series on what Barely Sociable calls “the most elusive identity on the internet” attempts to uncover the true identity of the creator of Bitcoin.