On the Internet Rabbit Hole

Do you ever go on a social network like Facebook or Twitter, click a link, read the article, see another link, click the article, read that one, see another–I think you know where I am going with this. That internet and its confounded rabbit hole.

It works like this for me: I go online for a specific purpose: e-mail, check facebook, or pay a bill. Two hours later I find myself on a site of which I have never heard, reading about something in which I am interested, but not that interested.

I usually don’t do this anymore, but I did it on Sunday Night when I was intending to edit Stronghold, so I thought it worth reflecting further on the experience. It’s not that I think running down the rabbit hole is dangerous in and of itself–although it can be, and I have stumbled onto things I really wish I had not. My real problem with doing this stems from the fact that I’m not in college anymore, and I don’t particularly want to spend my time listlessly due to a lack of focus and self-discipline. I am an odd bird. If I say to myself, “I’m tired, and I am just going to spend an hour relaxing and looking at movie news and toy releases” I have no problem using that time for that relaxed purpose, but I hate it when I do it unplanned–when I intend to write a half dozen e-mails and find myself having written none three hours later but having read numerous interviews about movies I’m not even that interested in seeing.

I know my bait, too: Simple lists about movies or toys always get me started. For some reason, I have lost the ability to see a links like “Top Ten G.I. Joe Figures of the 80s” or “15 Lego Sets we Want to Own” or “Minimalist Posters for Major Tentpoles Blockbusters” and not click on them. Funny thing is that I don’t think I really care what other peoples’ top ten G.I. Joe Figures of the 80s, and I am also not a huge fan of minimalism.

But I do care about relationship. I care about validation and connection. I think that I value these lists because when I agree, I feel a little less like a nerd–or at least, I feel like a nerd with good taste. I have many wonderful friends, but none of them are die-hard toy fans like I am. I think this is directly connected to my formative experiences of playing with toys, unintentionally developing my storytelling sensibilities by doing so, and as such valuing toys as creative tools well into adulthood. None of my buddies really has this type of connection to their toys, but apparently many folks on the internet do (the valuing of collectibles, I mean). As to movies, I think we all love movies, but opinion varies so widely now that when I see a list, I really want to see if the writer and I agree. When someone posts “Five Movies that Challenged my Belief in God” and the writer and I had the same experience in some of our choices, I feel like we both did our job and watched the film well. Like we have connected through cyberspace somehow.

I don’t know. I am sure that a plethora of studies have been done about this sort thing and people much more qualified than I have come to much more solid conclusions about why we humans do this. I just thought that after this most recent bout of finding myself three hours on the internet with nothing to show for it, I should pause and consider why it happens. I have no great plan to avoid next time, other than awareness, I suppose.

How bout you?  Do you have topics that take you down the internet rabbit hole? How do you feel when you do?

Thanks for reading,