In Praise of Internet Rabbit-Holing

Rabbit hole, n. In Internet parlance, a trail of content discovery that, once started, continues to grow in complexity and weirdness.

You know that feeling you get when you realize it’s 2 AM and you’ve spent hours reading posts from some stranger’s blog written a few years ago? Time flies when you’re chasing a new interest down a rabbit hole of material. You tend to suspend judgment about whether your use of time is “wise” or whether it seems reasonable.

Until recently, I haven’t had a good rabbit hole to go down in years. It’s refreshing when one does come around, because it lets me tap into the superpower of obsessive curiosity. I read often. I’m interested in many things. But rarely can I find an interest that keeps me as engaged as a good internet rabbit hole.

Rabbit holes are complicated. In my life I’ve gone down cringeworthy rabbit holes (e.g. conspiracy theories) as well as ones that have been really positive on my intellectual and personal development (e.g. the libertarian rabbit hole, antitheist rabbit hole, Christianity rabbit hole).

But in all cases my experiences with internet rabbit holes have had the positive meta-effect of making me a stronger thinker. Rabbit holes tend to expose us to the wilder edges of thought. This makes us better able to see beyond the prejudices of our own time and majority culture. And fortunately, the Internet’s rabbit holes – if followed often enough – also tend to balance each other out (I’ve been down conservative religious, liberal religious, and anti-religious rabbit holes, for instance).

Far from being spoken of as dangerous traps for impressionable young people, rabbit-holing should be encouraged as one of the Internet’s finest sports.

Photo by Loic Leray on Unsplash

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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