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4 Examples of a Rabbit Hole

A rabbit hole is a surreal adventure or distraction. This is a reference to the 1865 novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll -- a tale of a young girl named Alice, who falls through a rabbit hole into a surreal underground fantasy world populated by human-like animals. The following are illustrative examples of a rabbit hole.

Fateful Decision

A rabbit hole is caused by some decision that seems innocuous at first but ends up having large impacts. For example, a student writing a history essay who decides to watch a video about the topic who clicks on a video of cute cats. This may end up being a fateful decision as it may lead to hours of wasted time, low productivity and sleep deprivation.

Escalating Commitment

Escalating commitment is the tendency for things to draw you in such that you commit more and more time and resources than originally planned. For example, a computer user who notices a flicker in their screen at startup who halfheartedly investigates the issue out of curiosity. This repair may quickly escalate such that days later they have taken their computer apart, reinstalled their operating system and decided that they need to replace the entire computer.

Slippery Slope

Rabbit holes are similar to the concept of slippery slopes -- the idea that an initial step can cause an escalating and uncontrollable series of events. This is an analogy to taking a step onto the top of a slippery hill and subsequently sliding down the entire hill to the bottom.

Six Degrees of Separation

Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone on the planet is connected if you look at friends of friends to six levels. This can be applied to connections between other things such as knowledge whereby all topics may be connected at a maximum depth of about six. This can explain the common experience of researching one thing and then ending up in some strange place a few minutes later. For example:
Kyoto -> Kimonos -> Silk -> Silk Production -> Manufacturing -> Henry Ford
If you start researching Kyoto and end up reading about the life of Henry Ford, you might have fallen down a rabbit hole.
Overview: Rabbit Hole
A surreal adventure or distraction caused by an initial decision that has escalating implications.
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This is the complete list of articles we have written about self-control.
Attention Span
Frame Of Mind
Negative Attitudes
Rabbit Hole
Risk Avoidance
Selling Out
Social Thinking
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