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I often talk about how much I like the airport. It’s the rare time when I can relax with an $8 bottle of SmartWater and do some elite-level people-watching. When you live in New York City or Los Angeles, you don’t get to encounter regular people. Everyone is dressed to the nines, strutting down the street, the star of their own movie. At the airport, people’s guards are down. We are all just trying to reach our destination, united in mutual hatred for the TSA.

These spaces exist online, too— but not on Instagram (where everyone is trying to look hot and rich), Twitter (everyone is trying to seem smart and funny), or TikTok (everyone looks 22 and is wearing oversized pants and a small shirt). LinkedIn has its moments, but the language and self-promotion can get exhausting. And Facebook, social media’s progenitor, can be a little dark. Seeing your enemy from high school with their four kids in the suburbs can probably be avoided, and I don’t need to know what anyone’s grandparents think about the upcoming election.

Two former Facebook employees, Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever, co-founded Quora in June 2009. Quora is a question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, edited, and organized by a highly-opinionated community of users. It’s like Reddit without the seething vitriol or a less academic Wikipedia, and man, does it get wild. Every question and answer feels like it is coming from a real person, not a creep in their mother’s basement. The questions run the gamut from deeply earnest to really stupid to “What is wrong with you?”

For the record, I have never once posted a question on Quora, or answered one. I don’t even remember signing up. But for years, I have gotten a daily email from Quora, and a while back, I started to click on some of the questions. If you aren’t careful, you can lose hours. How could I not lose myself in a thread that starts with the question, “As a flight attendant, what’s the nastiest thing you’ve seen a passenger do?” or an existential open-mic prompt like “What are some sad truths about aging?” No stone is left unturned; every subject is covered, and sometimes the answers are pretty knowledgeable, well-written, and even funny. Somebody asked “My family and I are going on vacation for two months, and I’m afraid or worried that when we come back, a squatter will take over our own home. What can we do to prevent this?”— and thirty people weighed in. That is better than anything on Netflix.

The internet is a treacherous and strange world where we allow people to be themselves, even if that means hiding behind an avatar to say awful things. Quora feels innocent and wide-eyed, the rare destination online where a logged-on cynic like myself can be entertained and at no one’s expense. I am sure you don’t need more distractions, but this one feels oddly wholesome, a respite from the dregs. Have you got a layover in Detroit? Kick back, open Quora, and start scrolling. The time will pass much faster.

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