One of my autistic traits is that I’m very much an all-in or all-out kind of person. A key example of this is that I can’t watch a TV show unless I see it from start to finish. I simply refuse to dip in and out. Even if it’s a sitcom designed to be viewed as a whole and as individual episodes, I need to see it all. The problem with this is that when I get obsessed, I get truly obsessed. And over the past few years, there are a lot of hobby-based rabbit holes that I’ve fallen into. Things I’ve decided I want to do and spent an absolute fortune on before realising it was the idea I liked and not the actual ‘thing’. So here is a list of everything I’ve wasted my money on, why and whether or not it was worth it.
I’m starting off with a big one. I first started reading comics as a Beano-obsessed kid who then moved on to the Simpsons before the interest temporarily faded before 17-year-old me discovered Marvel.
I actually entered the Marvel universe via Panini Publishing. Most of you will know them for printing football cards but they also produce comics. It’s essentially old storylines being republished for a wider audience. However, it wasn’t until I visited an actually comic book store in London that things became arguably out of hand.
Like I said in the intro, I don’t like dipping in and out of things. Reading a full comic book series is a big commitment, particularly with publishers like Marvel. Everyone and everything is always connected. In order to fully understand the plot of a series, you need to the know history of the character. With the likes of Wolverine, Spider-man, the Avengers etc. it spans over 50 years.
And then there are all the other publishers too. I’ve never really been a fan of DC Comics but I thoroughly enjoy Image comics. In total, I now own over 200 individual comic books as well as half a shelf of graphic novels and comic collections. About 50% of the comics I own are currently sitting under my desk waiting to be listed on eBay. And despite being a stickler for continuity, I actually only own two whole collections. The first being Black Widow, the third edition of which I purchased on that first trip to the comic book store. And the second is Skottie Young’s Rocket Raccoon series which was tragically cut after only seven editions (something I’ll never forgive Marvel for).
Why I fell down the rabbit hole and was it worth it?
All in all my comic book addiction isn’t something I regret. They helped me push through some very tough times. Most of the ‘heroes’ are outcasts, people with differences that separate them from the rest of society. I was able to relate to that and it gave me hope. It also inspired me to push my digital art further.
I’ll just quickly mention that, although digital art is something I still do today, I did spend money on some big products I no longer use. And I have also purchsed lots of traditional art supplies that just sit in a box. There’s not really enough to say about this to give art it’s own section but it does get an honourable mention. It’s a hobby I genuinely beleive I’ve pursued and will continue to for the long foreseeable future. But I’ve definitely pourchased lots of unnecessary items.
Truthfully, I wouldn’t categorise my experience with comic books as being a rabbit hole I fell into. It’s more a cave I entered and then couldn’t find my way out of. I went down too many different pathways and by the end of it, I’d accumulated too much treasure, as well as useless material, that I simply didn’t have the stamina to get out again.
Do I regret buying over 200 comic books in the last ten years? No, I don’t. Do I regret not reading them all? Definitely. Will I buy more comic books? Probably.
Now, this is definitely an idea I fell in love with rather than a hobby I pursued. My parents still regularly bring it up when I mention something I want to try or buy. In full honesty, I’m rather ashamed of this phase in my life. It all started pretty innocently. I saw a video on YouTube about Pocket Operator synthesisers (synths) and was intrigued. But then I fell down the rabbit hole that is known to most as Reddit.
I saw what other people were doing with them and also learnt about modular synths. I became obsessive. And the thing that intrigued me the most was the use of guitar pedals to alter the sound created by synths. So then I started watching videos about those too. And before long I was hunting all over the internet for the guitar pedals I wanted, the ones I liked the look or concept of. And boy oh boy did I splurge. I want to clarify here that I do not play the guitar and I never truly worked out how to make actual music with all the equipment I bought.
Why I fell down the rabbit hole and was it worth it?
The slight justification I have as to why I fell down this specific hole is that it happened during my MA year. Classes all took place on the same day of the week and my only social interaction was at the Doctor Who Society. This was also when I was going through the PIP process. Admittedly that means I had zero income so should not have been buying non-essentials at all. But the point I’m trying to make is that I needed something to focus on, something to get excited about. In hindsight, I believe this fixation on guitar pedals was the first sign that my mental stability was slowly collapsing.
Do I regret buying them? Yes, with my entire soul. Do I intend to ever use them? Well sort of, I still have my dream modular synth set up on a website somewhere and would love one day to have the time, money and space to make it. Will I buy more? No, I won’t.
I’m going to add in another honorary mention here. On my list of hobbies to mention I have knitting/crochet. However, like with art I don’t think something I do regularly and gain a lot of joy from is really a rabbit hole. I’ve been wanting to write a blog about why I love knitting/crochet so much for a while now, a bit like the RPG post I wrote in 2020. Admittedly, what you’re currently reading is the third blog I have half-written at the moment but if you’d be interested just say so in the comments and I’ll do my best to write it.
Now this one started out as a means to an end. I decided in April 2020 that it was finally time for me to quit smoking. I was never a heavy smoker but I was heavily reliant on my 8 cigarettes a day. So I bought a vape, however, when it didn’t work I went to the internet to find a better one and yet again fell into the rabbit hole that is Reddit.
It turned out there were so many different types of vape. It wasn’t just a cigarette alternative, it was a hobby with a massive community and I wanted to be part of that. All in all, despite spending an absolute fortune on different mods, atomizers, pods, coils and of course juices, I think there’s only one product I’ve never used. It arrived broken and my social anxiety prevented me from responding to my emails after I contacted the company I’d bought it from. The rest of the gear I no longer use is either because my preferences have changed or the items have been dropped one too many times.
Now, before I continue talking about this particular hobby of mine, I’m going to give you a bit of insight into how I write. I use software which is meant to tell you what improvements to make to your posts in order to improve reach and readability. And the first two hobbies I discussed were considered too long to be one section. So I added in the ‘why’ segment. I have a feeling that’s not really necessary here and won’t be for the final hobby either. So instead I’ve given you a tangent to help transition to a different format.Funny thing is, with my ramble it did need an extra header so I put in an empty one ;)
So vaping conclusion, do I regret buying lots of vapes? No. At the start of lockdown, when I was still smoking, I’d walk around the block. There was a road which always felt like a mountain to me. Now, despite being far less fit than I was then, it’s an absolute breeze. And the only thing that’s changed is my switch from fags to vapes. Did I need to buy as many as I did? Definitely not. Will I buy more? Yes but only when my current one breaks.
Now, this is the rabbit hole I’m currently staring down. Some may say I’ve already fallen considering I’ve spent the last week scanning the internet for what I want/would like. I purchased my first mechanical keyboard several years ago and thought nothing more of it. But then I discovered an Instagram account called Alexotos. This guy just makes keyboards look so beautiful. So when it was mentioned that my typing was audible on a Discord chat two weeks ago, I took that as an opportunity and purchased a second keyboard.
Just like with vapes and synths it turns out there’s a lot of customisation that can be done to keyboards. In fact, most enthusiasts buy the parts and build them themselves. That’s what I want to do. I want to build a custom keyboard. And I won’t lie, I already have all the parts I want saved in multiple online shopping baskets.
Is it necessary for me to purchase all this expensive stuff and build my own keyboard? No. Will I do it? Yes. I actually told myself if I managed to write this blog and upload it (I already mentioned I have several unfinished drafts) then I’d allow myself to purchase said parts. Do I think this is a rabbit hole I will fall all the way down? No, because I believe I’ve learnt from my past mistakes. I’ll only allow myself to buy what is necessary within a reasonably reasonable budget. And I also believe that, like my other creative hobbies, this could be beneficial.
I mean right now I am loving typing this out. Knowing that one has spent time and money on something can act as an incentive to use it and I hope, if I do manage to make my dream keyboard, doing so will push me to write more. Push me to leave my room and sit at my desk even if I am just browsing the internet for info on my next craze.
Looking back at these specific rabbit holes in depth, there are two main things I’ve noticed.
The first is that I like creative, techy things. I’ve always been a fan of ‘building’. I still have some of my old K’NEX and Mechano builds in my old room. And for GCSE, I did DT mechanics and engineering. I enjoyed it a lot and was owed a far higher grade than I got but that is a ramble for another day. I guess what I’m trying to say is, that I’ve never really felt like I’ve fulfilled my potential when it comes to making things, so when I’m bored I look for ways to satisfy that urge.
The second trend I noticed was the sense of community that often comes with niche hobbies. I’ve always felt different and in many ways alone. I’ve never quite fitted into the boxes that society creates, I’ve never belonged. So when I find an online community that is willing to support and help me. A group of people who get excited by the same things that I do. It’s kind of magical. The DocSoc is the only other place I’ve ever felt that and uni ended over 4 years ago.
There were so many things I quit when I was younger due to negative experiences and I’ve just always had this feeling that there is something I’m good at that I never tried. I guess this is the problem with having an ambitious yet erratic mindset. There’s always more, always something else. And although I’ve learnt from my mistakes, I’m sure there’ll be many more things I try before I’m truly satisfied. Maybe I never will be.
So if you want to see what crazy rabbit holes I fall down in the future, then go ahead and subscribe. All you need to do is fill out the form at the bottom of the page (on mobile the form is off-screen to the side, something I plan on fixing soon). It merely means an automated email each time I upload a new post, nothing else. And if you want to respond, do so on the actual post (comments are also at the bottom of the page) rather than where you see it shared. It builds traffic etc. and helps me out.