Apologies to my esteemed colleague Magdalene Taylor and her eternal love for the surprisingly deep Joe Dirt, but when I’m looking for something to mindlessly binge under quarantine, I don’t want “optimism.” I don’t want heretofore trash entertainment that under a new reading says something much more profound. I simply want pictures of submarines.
Weird, you say? I don’t think so. In fact, when I’m awake at 3 a.m. — like I have been for most of the last week — contemplating the odds that I make it through this with my health, my immunocompromised parents or any amount of money at all, the subreddits r/Submarines and r/Aviation have been the only places I can go to quiet my mind.
I’ve been using submarines (what they look like inside, what it would be like to ride in the sail of one) as dream fodder for years — the metaphorical door I step through in the back of the room. r/Submarines has, for almost as long, been my content generator for that process. Within the subreddit, a small and surprisingly friendly group of redditors, many of them ex or current submariners themselves, share images of their favorite types of “boats” (fyi, that’s how one refers to a submarine), videos of life aboard them (these are my favorite) and relevant news stories. They’re also kind enough to answer questions from nerds like me.
It’s the same thing in r/Aviation. Since I was a kid, airplanes have fascinated me — to the point where I’ll pick a flight now based on the type of vessel we’ll be traveling on — and to have a place where I’ve been able to dork out on things like planespotting the latest airline livery changes, stories about what it’s like to take the world’s longest flight and videos of harrowing landings is beyond the wildest imagination of childhood me.
All of which is to say that during these trying, do-nothing-but-work-and-watch-TV times, when I’ve been bored out of my skull or stricken with dark thoughts of what’ll happen if society collapses, there’s been no better place than r/Submarines and r/Aviation. I can see a picture of a Russian Alfa-class sub with its incredibly interesting lead-bismuth cooled fast reactor, or a video of the latest ultra long-haul Airbus A350 with its carbon-fiber airframe, and follow them deep down an internet rabbit hole of YouTube videos, Wikipedia pages and mesmerizing home-spun websites for hours.
Look, I know odds are slim that you’re as into submarines, or airplanes for that matter, as I am. In fact, it’s only recently that I’ve told anyone about my little, secret obsession. My girlfriend is amused by the whole thing; my coworkers think it’s weird. All I’m saying is, at a moment when it’s likely that you’ll be stuck at home for a long, long time, lean into your weird interests as much as you can. If they take your mind off the stream of shitty news out there — especially during those restless hours in the middle of the night — there’s nothing weird about them at all.