Wellness, Productivity, Balance for Graduate Students and Beyond

Friday Fun: Media to Zone Out To

My doctorate is in Film and Media Studies, so of course I'm going to say, when questioned on the record, that you should always watch media mindfully, paying attention while being present, keeping your phone in the other room and then thoughtfully discuss it all with willing conversational partners. But, let's be real. A lot of times, I want something that is soothing, not stressful or tension-filled, with pretty pictures to zone out to at the end of the long day. And so here is my current list of free and streaming things that I love to zone out to at the end of a long day (or the middle of the day, if it's been really bad and I need a break!)

One of my dissertation chapters focused on the live-streaming of animals, and happily, that research lead me to the cutest channel on Youtube: Tiny Kittens. Tiny Kittens is a non-profit cat rescue based in Canada that usually has two or three livestreams of cats at any time. I love them for white noise, and often keep the stream on in my second monitor, so I can catch any kitten floofiness that might be happening. Below is a representative sample of cuteness!

  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has made quite the splash in Fan Studies because of its cross-identity appeal, but it is also just a really good show. I've watched almost all the seasons, and despite one minor incident where my partner found me crying, inconsolable, on the couch and all I could say was "hard work really does pay off" after an episode centered around trying your best, it is blissfully unrelated to the dissertation process. Check it out on Netflix!
  • Sir David Attenborough also featured heavily in my dissertation, but the BBC Earth programming is legit beautiful. I love the oft-overlooked Blue Planet series but the whole slate is worth checking out, and it is all streaming on Netflix as well. 
  • And last but not least streaming (for now at least) on Netflix is Neil deGrasse Tyson's Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. I truly don't love anything as much as I love Carl Sagan's series of the same name, but this is streaming, well-done in a production sense, and generous with its scholarship and presentation. It's basically a 14 hour love letter to the scientific method, with a focus on highlighting scientists who might fall outside of the "canon." 

Instagram is a glorious and strange and wonderful and terrible place, but I've fallen deeply into a few different genres of accounts. The first is "video tutorials of sugar cookie decoration." The most shining example of this is Sweet Ambs, or Amber Spiegel. Her cookies are intricate, and although I normally watch them with the sound off, the music is soothing too. She's an artist.

I also, for reasons that I don't full understand, feel incredibly drawn to videos of kinetic sand being manipulated. These are similar to the uber-popular slime genre of videos, but I prefer sand. I also covet this rainbow knife.