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Falling down the rabbit hole

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I have a few hang ups with the internet, but the main one is rabbit holes.

We’ve all been there. I feel fairly safe making this generalization because the world is a big place with plenty of room for random obsessions.

You know how it goes. It’s late at night (usually, although this isn’t a requirement). There are many things left undone on your to-do list. You decide to Google something that’s of no relevance… and then you glance up three hours later and realize you’ve fallen down an internet rabbit hole.

The thing about internet rabbit holes is that they don’t allow for any dignified kind of falling. There is absolutely no way you can fall into a rabbit hole and land solidly on two feet. Rabbit holes are more likely to spit you out, headfirst, into the Mad Hatter’s afternoon tea.

When I played Alice in a junior high production of Lewis Carroll’s Alice through the Looking Glass, (glamorous, I know), there wasn’t any falling at all. What happened is I stood offstage and yelled, gradually getting louder to convince the audience that a 12-year-old girl was plummeting into Wonderland.

Only, I couldn’t yell convincingly enough, so we scrapped the whole falling bit altogether and just had Alice skip onstage and exclaim, “Boy! Was that ever a long fall!”

That was still more dignified than the rabbit holes I fall into today.

I’ll take you through a chaotic internet experience I fell into a few weeks ago. It started with a simple Google search of the Kids in the Hall (KITH), to see if their Amazon revival had been renewed for another season — the jury’s still out on that one, by the way. From there, I ended up perusing the cast of 1987’s Anne of Avonlea, skipping to an article about twin movies (think A Bug’s Life and Antz), and finally reading about a plagiarism lawsuit between Huey Lewis and the News and Ray Parker Jr. (where Parker used very similar melodies from “I Want a New Drug” for the Ghostbusters theme).

And in all honesty, that wasn’t even one of the more extreme rabbit holes.

Then, there are the scary rabbit holes where you get sucked into the black hole of a single topic, instead of hopping through a bunch of tangentially related subjects. Having spent hours elbows deep in various bits of television trivia, I can tell you that it’s both a terrifying and exhilarating place to be.

Can I tell you that the Headcrusher character from KITH started out as a gag Mark McKinney did while out on a bad double date? Yes. Yes I can. But should I be able to? I’ll let you answer that one.

Evidently, we’re not alone. A quick Google search brings up a list of fascinating rabbit holes people voluntarily fall into, ranging from Wikipedia pages dedicated to nostalgic topics, the history of a Vatican family that couldn’t sleep, an extensive list of TV tropes, unsolved mysteries archives, lists of over 725 billion archived webpages (so you can see what they looked like years ago), and many, many articles about how to make sourdough bread.

Rabbit holes, if they do nothing else, provide us with an escape from the mundane. Whether we emerge from them with a slew of new trivia we can pepper our exasperated loved ones with, or no memory of the experience at all, we can at least say that a few minutes, or hours, or (hopefully not) days, were spent chasing after something we found interesting.

So the next time you find yourself at the bottom of a rabbit hole, wondering if you’ve gone mad, Alice has some advice for you: “(Yes), you’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”

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