Apps, hacks, and social media accounts that we recommend for 2016.
Each month, the BuzzFeed Life team recommends interesting beauty/craft/ recipe/lifestyle products, tricks, and apps its editors tested out in their own lives. It's always one of my favorite things to read – real, honest endorsements of some small thing that made someone's life a little better.
Monthly product recommendations aren't really what we do here at BuzzFeed Tech, but for the end of the year I asked our team to recommend things that made their lives a little better in 2015 (that's the idea of technology anyway, right?). Things that aren't life changing products or gadgets – perhaps a way of using something that already existed a little differently, or a website that we enjoyed or a social media account that cracks us up.
Here's to making 2016 a little better, in tiny ways.
The Mushroom Identification Forum Facebook group
This has been the year that Facebook groups have completely changed my view on Facebook. I started signing up for weird groups, and all of a sudden, Facebook is this fun awesome place with lots of interesting new people chatting and posting pictures of specific things, and not just a place for my high school friends' baby photos or political rants. Groups have made Facebook fun again for me – something I thought was literally impossible.
Of the weird and wonderful groups I've joined, the Mushroom Identification Forum is by far the best. It's huge for Facebook group standards: about 51,000 members currently. The group is exactly what it sounds like – people post photos of mushrooms they see out in the wild, and ask for help identifying them. I've been incredibly impressed by the deep knowledge some members have for fingering fungii (or “mycology”, as the study of mushrooms is known). I had no idea that mushrooms were a ~thing~ people were into as a hobby. I'm a birdwatcher, and I can see how it's pretty similar, and you rack up knowledge pretty fast just by looking out while on a walk in the woods and maybe browsing a few guidebooks. The slightly geeky obsessiveness of amateur mushroom sleuths is very recognizable to me.
I just love seeing these people from all over the country posting a photo of some strange thing they saw while on a hike in Ohio, or growing on a piece of wood in an urban yard of San Francisco. It's a little bit funny, like the kid asking “can I eat it?” but also genuinely sweet and innocent. I've added several friends to the group, and they love it as much as I do.
Perhaps the best use of Facebook is not as place to connect with friends, but a place that when you see some weirdass shroom growing in your yard, you can ask someone “what the hell is this?” –Katie Notopoulos
The @kylizzlesnapchats Instagram account
This Instagram account is the best way to keep track of Kylie Jenner and her rotating satellite of baes. It posts Snapchats from Jenner's account, as well instances where she shows up in Snapchats posted by her friends. If you can't be bothered by Snapchat, it's the best way to follow the saga of casual wealth in Calabasas in doses and from many different angles. It's also a black mirror into The Selfie's next frontier. Whoever runs this account, please call me. You are very industrious and I want to know more about your methods. –Nitasha Tiku
De-Quantifying My Exercise
Above: miserable after a trying to beat my times while jogging.
In theory I love the idea of tracking myself. Seeing my daily behavior at scale is fascinating and I hold out hope that by doing something over and over again and logging it, I'll gain some sort of deep insight into myself and, in turn, ~optimize~ my life. So when I started really getting into running, I immediately started logging all my sweaty miles with the Nike+ app. At first it was brutal and embarrassing, but it quickly became fun and addicting as I got marginally more in shape. I started lightly obsessing over milage and time, often precariously glancing down at my phone during runs to check my progress. I pushed myself to go faster and farther, which, at first seemed great — Nike+, my personal running coach!
But as the months went on it, like so many other trackers/gadgets, became a source of anxiety. The weather turned nice and, instead of focusing on the gorgeous scenery as I ran through New York, I was focused on some arbitrary fitness goal. Any run slower than the day before it was a failure instead of what it really was: a little victory. I also found myself bothered by lots of small little injuries, no doubt because I was doing pushing myself too much on days when I should have taken it easy.
So I stopped. I deleted the app and went out for runs without my phone. It was hard at first and I felt like I'd given up. And then, a week or so in, I started to feel great. I let my mind wander. I focused on listening to my body, rather than relying on an app. I had more time to let my mind wander. Running, this thing that felt like a daily punishment, was almost kind of fun.
Working out regularly is so goddamn hard and basically took me 27 years to do so with any frequency. Doing any kind of exercise is a victory and should be celebrated as such, and anything that gets in the way of that has got to go. –Charlie Warzel
View Entire List ›