THE NEW RABBIT HOLE: THE INTERNET
A few years ago, before I retired and so time always seemed spoken for and limited I began referring to YouTube as ‘the rabbit hole’. This was because of how hard it was for me to go and just extract one video I wanted to post in some group on one of the Social Media sites to which I belong. I didn’t dare before work on weekday, because invariably I floated down that hole and ended up looking at so much more than I meant to view. This would happen for couple of reasons.
Firstly because like most sources on the web---the search words are crucial—if you’re not looking for a specific song, title or artist putting together the precise keywords to get the type at least if not specific video you were seeking can be a challenge—rather like Alice trying to get the key from table to fit thru the tiny door.
Secondly most any song, art form, how-to-film that I might be seeking was likely to come in various versions. Example: While I no longer identify with any organized religion, the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ strikes a very deep chord with me. But as i sought a version for a topic post in an multi-art group I ran I faced a dilemma: That first post—should I go with the rendition by Luanne Rimes who’s voice has a quality so crystalline she could probably emotionally affect people if she sang nonsense syllables or do I go with the poignant Gospel Choir backed version by a raspy voiced Steven Tyler who we KNOW knows what it is to be ‘lost’ and then ‘found’???
Thirdly, they post suggestions. This was really a time guzzler for me for two different reasons: 1) At my age with my eclectic taste in music and willingness to listen to things previously unknown to me? Sometimes it was the nostalgia factor-- “It’s been so long since I heard that one. Oh, the memories it triggers.” Sometimes curiosity--what lyrics would a Rap group called True Rez Crew have? 2) If non-music, that same curiosity led me down myriad paths---often to wonderful discoveries like Aboriginal elders explaining why it has been so hard for them to fight for the land. Like American Indians they have a very different relationship to land than Europeans/white Americans do: To lay legal claim to it as if it were an object is distasteful, like someone claiming to OWN their mother. But ultimately they had to if they wanted to protect their sacred grounds. But it also led to some things I can’t unsee no matter how hard I try, like when I was looking for a video about ‘The Art of Gaman’ which is a collection of art works by prisoners in the Internment Camps where the US Government confined Japanese-Americans during WWII. You need to know that Gaman is a Japanese concept that means ‘bearing difficulties/pain/burdens well, with what we might call ‘grace’. i’d seen a ‘hardcopy’ article about it and wanted to find something I could share online without having to scan the whole thing into my computer. What I forgot is that English has no monopoly on using the same word in vastly different contexts. I learned that day that Gaman is also applied to the, shall we say ‘vigorous’, S & M/Bondage subculture in Japan. I had been perplexed at the ‘adult content’ warning at start of video but then I had to laugh at myself because that usage made sense.
When in political discussions, I do a good bit of research, fact checking—that can be a rabbit hole too…you find all sorts of bizarre notions being touted as facts. And you find even more cases of facts that are skewed, interpreted in self-serving ways, usually to support a socio-political agenda that involves treating some group of people as ‘less than’.
So, what’s your favorite ‘rabbit hole’, have you found any strategies for making a quick exit? For me the fact that living beings in the room with me have always taken precedence over books, letters, films which can be picked up again helps. I remind self those search results will still be there tomorrow---I just need to either bookmark some or if lots I want to check out---write down the search words that pulled the list up.