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Wabbit Season: The Art of Distraction

This article courtesy of all the rabbit holes I fell down during Vindicator pitch meetings.

Written by Cara Robbins


Here at The Vindicator, we pride ourselves in our dedication to exploring the art and culture that directly impacts the student body of Cleveland State. In my final article — my magnum (Magnus!) opus — I tackle what has been the green light to my Gatsby: the proverbial rabbit hole. 

Unpacking the Bunny’s Burrow

The most important part of any merited academic dissertation is, of course, finding a general consensus of what defines a rabbit hole. The Oxford Dictionary clarifies it as a phrase “used to refer to a bizarre, confusing, or nonsensical situation or environment, typically one from which it is difficult to extricate oneself.” But doesn’t that definition feel like it lacks some nuance? Merriam-Webster, on the other hand, defines a rabbit hole as “a complexly bizarre or difficult state or situation conceived of a hole into which one falls or descends … especially one in which the pursuit of something (such as an answer or solution) leads to other questions, problems, or pursuits.” However, I personally prefer the definition of “a metaphor for something that transports someone into a wonderfully (or troubling) surreal state or situation. On the internet, [it] frequently refers to an extremely engrossing or time-consuming topic.”

Thus, much like an M.C. Escher drawing, the search for a definition of a rabbit hole has sent us plummeting down the procrastination wormhole. You may ask yourself, why would I — the editor-in-chief of this prestigious magazine and an (almost) college graduate — encourage the art of distraction? Simply put, I have felt the call of the rabbit hole beckoning me for the past four years at CSU, yet I have remained dutiful and razor-focused in my academic endeavors. Now, with the creeping sensation of senioritis on my back and graduation looming on the horizon, I find it harder and harder to stay on track with the piles of thesis work I still need to complete. I’m afraid it’s only a matter of time before I’m damned to make the internet-adjacent nosedive à la “Alice in Wonderland.” And if I’m going down, I’m taking you all with me.

Tips for a Prime Rabbit Hole

1. Start with Good Intentions

The key to a good rabbit hole is that you must always, always, have something more important to do with your time. If you choose to take the responsible approach and wait until all your business is handled, then you’re just dicking around on the internet — and that doesn’t have the same whimsical draw. And you must earnestly attempt to stay engaged in your very important work. Part of the appeal is the thrill that comes from desperately attempting to escape the procrastination abyss. 

2. The Classic Approach: The Internet 

Contrary to popular belief, TikTok and social media are not the best medium for building your warren of distraction. While social media is a great tool to expose you to new concepts and topics, the rapid delivery of information and waterfall of posts is much more likely to inundate viewers into passive scrolling, rather than encourage active, curious searching for relevant information. The active search for information is what differentiates a rabbit hole from doom-scrolling.

 Platforms such as Wikipedia have long been the king of the internet rabbit hole: its structure inherently encourages the curious reader to continue asking questions, and a web of hyperlinks make it all too easy to sink hours into topics you usually wouldn’t think twice about. Google “the Wiki Game” to streamline your descent. The hallowed hours-long Youtube video essay is another favorite for the beginning rabbit. My favorite will always be Jenny Nicholson’s classic: “The Church Play Cinematic Universe.”

3. The Unsung Hero: Books and Literature

If you’re like me, however, the internet isn’t enough. You’re not like other rabbits. Real rabbit die-hards may want to consider the underappreciated world of books and what they can offer. To ensure you’re following tip #1, why not mosey over to the library for an innocent study session? Position yourself in the nonfiction session. Strike when the time is right, abandon your very important work, and devour as many weird and hyper-specific books as you can. A personal favorite of mine is “Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders.”

Brush up on the Dewey Decimal System to expedite your journey. Discover that the Dewey Decimal System is largely considered outdated and problematic, and then brush up on the Library of Congress Classification System instead. Find a book about the Library of Congress and learn about all the weird things they’ve cataloged. There’s endless burrows to build! (A moldy piece of cake, Freud’s cocaine, a map of the Grand Canyon made out of chocolate, etc…)

4. The Final Boss: Staring Blankly into the Distance

Consider the following situation. You’re determined to get your very important work done. You’ve set up countless fail-safes to keep you disciplined: you’re at a coffee shop devoid of books, you left your phone at home, you’ve got distraction blockers out the wazoo downloaded on your laptop. You’ve taken every step possible to be a responsible adult. But don’t give up the ghost yet — you can still find a way to be useless! Have you considered people-watching? Study passers-by and wonder about their life stories. Eavesdrop on nearby conversations and mentally input your own opinion.

When you get enough weird glares from strangers, pick your favorite wall and stare, erring juuuust on the right side of maladaptive daydreaming. Advanced rabbits are capable of getting so absorbed in their own mental map of collected information that it constitutes a rabbit hole of its own. (The Vindicator does not condone stalking. Don’t be a creep).

"...the search for a definition of a rabbit hole has sent us plummeting down the procrastination wormhole."

What Can You Do with this Newfound Skill?

1. Wow people with all the fun facts you learned!

On a first date and feeling kind of nervous? Make them fall for you by telling them all about how male snakes have two penises! Got a job interview that could define your career? Impress your future employer by recounting the comprehensive socioeconomic context behind Australia’s Great Emu War! (986 confirmed emu casualties. Zero human casualties. Emus emerged victorious).

2. That’s about it.

3. No really, that’s about it.

You’re going to burn up a lot of your brain’s CPU capabilities, but at least you’ll be able to push your glasses up the bridge of your nose and bust out an “um, actually…” at any party you attend.

It’s Rather Curious, You Know, This Sort of Life

In all seriousness, fostering curious thinking and creativity is one of the most important ways that you can keep your mind active and expanding. When tempered with the right amount of dedication and discipline, the skill of quickly discovering and synthesizing relevant information can be a superpower, and may even make the work you produce stronger in the long run.

Always ask questions, always quench your thirst for knowledge, and be proud of the drive to discover new information about the everyday magic in the world around us. If this article has led you down any extravagant rabbit holes yourself, for God’s sake, clue me in! Please email all the weird things you learn using these techniques to to keep me delightfully distracted from all of my very, very important work.

Now go, my rabbits: terrorize the internet, your local libraries and anywhere you can build your warren! 

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