We all know someone whose primary hobby seems to be collecting random facts to dole out at parties — the people who like to point out that the brain named itself, or that Mars is populated only by robots (as far as we know). If you've ever wondered where they get this stuff, their source is probably one of the many mind-blowing subreddits waiting to be found on the world wide web. Whether they're dedicated to unsolved mysteries and crimes or fun facts of the non-homicidal variety, these communities contain a wealth of information that might just change the way you see the world. Plus, some of them are simple fun.
Any regular internet user would be hard-pressed to avoid at least a working knowledge of Reddit, which bills itself as the "front page of the internet." If you've managed to avoid it, though, the basic idea is that the site has thousands of forums, or subreddits, focused on specific topics. Needless to say, there's an enormous variety out there. Perennial favorite r/LetsNotMeet, for example, is a place for people to share tales of weird and/or terrifying real-life encounters, while r/ListenToThis recommends new music and artists.
There's tons of cool stuff, but if you're the kind of person who likes learning new things, here are nine fascinating subreddits to blow your mind.
1Explain Like I'm Five
Have you ever wondered why we get goosebumps, or what the hell general relativity actually means? Enter r/ExplainLikeImFive, where you can post pretty much any serious question and receive a clear, simple answer. (As the subreddit's FAQ section explains, it's not literally meant to explain things to five-year-olds — just laypeople unfamiliar with the subject.) Actually, I should say the simplest possible answer; some of the concepts explained on this Reddit can get pretty complex.
Whether or not you possess artistic flair of your own, r/AccidentalRenaissance will teach you to see composition in everything. As you can guess from the name, the subreddit gathers photos that "inadvertently resemble well-composed Renaissance style art." Scroll through Accidental Renaissance often enough, and you'll start viewing things a little differently — literally. Who knew concerts and nosebleeds could set such a beautiful scene?
r/UnsolvedMysteries is pretty self-explanatory, collecting stories of unsolved crimes, missing persons, and other mysteries throughout history. Some users stick to presenting the facts of the cases, while others offer theories about what they think happened to, say, their missing grandmother. Either way, the entire subreddit is a chilling reminder that not every mystery gets a resolution.
This subreddit's tagline sums it up perfectly: "If it is fun and interesting, it belongs here!" This is the ibustlnternet, so take its content with a grain of salt. But if you're looking for something to keep you entertained for hours at a time, scrolling through r/FunFacts is where it's at. By the end, you'll be armed with dozens of new factoids to impress your coworkers. Speaking of which, did you know former president Lyndon B. Johnson used to terrify White House visitors by pretending the brakes were failing in his aqua vehicle?
5Today I Learned
Like r/FunFacts, r/TodayILearned is a place to post whatever fascinating facts you've come across lately. The result is an ultra-varied collection of factoids, from Carrie Fisher's instructions for reporting her death ("drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra") to the number of happy, healthy bees living in Cuba.
Have you ever noticed how often people see familiar shapes and faces in unfamiliar objects? It's a common phenomenon called pareidolia, and there's an entire subreddit, r/Pareidolia, dedicated to pictures where you can't help but see things that aren't there. Prepare to look for patterns in everything afterward.
A classic for a reason, r/ShowerThoughts is where Reddit users post the "miniature epiphanies" that happen when you're alone with your thoughts in the shower. A personal favorite is the realization that last year, "if you're 24 years old, you've already been around for 10 percent of American history."
It's easy to take technology for granted, but think about how different it was 10 years ago. Or what about 20, or even 30 years before that? It's mind-boggling to think about how quickly technology has changed, but what's even more amazing is thinking about what it will look like in the future. That's where r/Futurology, a subreddit devoted to "evidence-based speculation about the development of humanity, technology, and civilization," comes in. Whether it's a discussion of fully functional holograms or the replacement of human workers with robots, the community is guaranteed to get you looking forward.
9Not The Onion
Sometimes, truth is stranger than satire. If you don't believe me, believe r/NotTheOnion, where users link to stories "so mind-blowingly ridiculous, that you could have sworn it was an Onion story." Then go sit in the corner and think about what a weird world we live in.