Name that Phenomenon: A Rabbit Room Audience Participation Experience


If you were to look at my Neftlix queue, you would probably think, “Wow! That dude must really like documentaries and foreign-language films.” If, on the other hand, you were to look at the history of what I actually watch on Netflix, you would more likely think, “Wow! That dude must really like Nacho Libre and The A-Team.”

It’s easy to be high-minded when I’m planning out what movies I’m going to watch someday. It costs me nothing—not even five seconds of my time—to add The Bicycle Thief to the queue. But when I actually sit down to watch a movie—when we’re actually talking about 89 minutes of my life…let’s just say that in the several years that The Bicycle Thief has languished in my queue unwatched, I have watched Raising Arizona several times, even though Raising Arizona has never been in my queue.

This phenomenon is not, of course, limited to the Netflix queue, nor is it limited to me. Jill Phillips recently tweetered, “When I am at Whole Foods I only want to eat salads. And then I leave and then I don’t.” Exactly.

To my knowledge, this phenomenon doesn’t have a name. But it ought to. So I present the question to you, the readership of the Rabbit Room. What are we to call the principle by which Jill Phillips likes salad as long as she doesn’t actually have to eat it, and I like foreign-language movies as long as I don’t actually have to watch them?

Offer your suggestions in the comment section below. If you contribute the best name for the above-described phenomenon, you will win a signed* photograph of Russ Ramsey with very big hair.


*I can’t guarantee that the photograph will actually be signed by Russ Ramsey; but if he won’t sign it, I’m sure somebody will.

Jonathan Rogers is the author of The Terrible Speed of Mercy, one of the finest biographies of Flannery O’Connor we've ever read. His other books include the Wilderking Trilogy–The Bark of the Bog Owl, The Secret of the Swamp King, and The Way of the Wilderking–as well as The World According to Narnia and a biography of Saint Patrick. He has spent most of his adult life in Nashville, Tennessee, where he and his wife Lou Alice are raising a houseful of robustious children.


  1. AE

    Well…in polling, we’ve always called this the Nielsen Problem. Folks have a long history of answering “I watch 3 hours of Public Television” instead of the honest “I never miss Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

  2. Thomas McKenzie


    Loafey (LOW-fee) – adj. To have a sudden affection for a thing associated with the place you happen to be. From the Latin locus, place; and affectus, affection. When I visit Whole Foods, I feel loafey for salads.

  3. Jennifer

    Here’s my offering: The “Best Laid Plans” phenomenon – ala Robert Burns.**

    I too have experienced this….and I really don’t want people to see my “Suggestions for you” and “Recently watched” lists on my Netflix page….because my kids watch it more than I do. My list presently includes “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, “The Fairly Oddparents”, “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody”, “Phineus and Ferb”, “Dirty Jobs” amd “Monk”. (Ok, I admit…I really like “Monk” and “Phineus and Ferb” is actually pretty funny.)

    Someday I will get to watch “Ecce Cor Meum” by Paul McCartney, but my kids keeping skipping ahead of me in the Queue. It’s been at # 3 or 4 for months.

    **I really like Burns….we share a birthday…minus 203 years.

  4. Eric

    Sphere Pressure. The urging you feel towards doing something, but only when you are within certain spheres of influence.

    “I was feeling sphere pressure to buy those skinny jeans while I was at Urban Outfitters, but once I got closer to the food court, I was really glad I stayed with my cargo shorts.”

  5. Rob Collins

    In my world, I refer to this problem as “the motorcycle.”

    I don’t own a motorcycle, nor have I ever ridden on a motorcycle. But I think I would look cool on a motorcycle. Thus I talk about getting one, though I never do.

    The truth is that I don’t like being too cold or hot. I don’t like bugs or spiders. I can’t drive a stick shift car, motorcycles must be shifted.

    The idea of a motorcycle sounds great. The application is another thing all together.

    Perhaps eating more salad and watching documentaries are things that would only help you; while a motorcycle is a bit more dangerous. Perhaps.

    So when it comes to those moments, I tend to start my sentences with “for me it’s like wanting a motorcycle…”

  6. brent

    Something like “periexia” would probably be a good guess, based on the greek words “peri” meaning “around” and “orexis” meaning “appetite.” Or perhaps “pericraving”.

    However, since this is the Rabbit Room, I propose “periman jonesing”.

  7. EmmaJ

    Oh, isn’t it only too true…

    I feel like I read an article about this sometime back, specifically about what’s in people’s Netflix queues, even. But Jill’s salad confession is, let’s just say… poignant, even for a vegetarian. Given the choice between the fresh veggies I meant to eat right away and the box of mac and cheese that I bought to keep in the pantry for a rainy day… pretty much no question anymore what ends up in my mouth first. The cheese sauce calls and I cave. I am fond of the veg, really, but I melt into a gooey puddle of wholesome intentions when faced with any combination of pasta and cheese.

    Here is my best shot at naming the phenomenon by which one makes choices according to the preferences of a different you than you actually are:

    Idealistic Selection Fallacy

    Salad Syndrome

    Ideals/Reality Gap

    Selecting for an Alternate Universe

    The Myth of Wholesome Preferences

    Idealist Distortion

    But you all are so clever – now that I’ve looked at your offerings, I think I’d vote for them over mine 🙂

  8. Tony Heringer

    I’d suggest this is a fifth category of Delusional misidentification syndrome (

    Delusional misidentification syndrome is an umbrella term, for a group of delusional disorders that all involve a belief that the identity of a person, object or place has somehow changed or has been altered.

    This syndrome is usually considered to include four main variants:

    • The Capgras delusion is the belief that (usually) a close relative or spouse has been replaced by an identical-looking impostor.

    • The Fregoli delusion is the belief that various people the believer meets are actually the same person in disguise.

    • Intermetamorphosis is the belief that people in the environment swap identities with each other whilst maintaining the same appearance.

    • Subjective doubles, in which a person believes there is a doppelgänger or double of him or herself carrying out independent actions.

    The new category is The Kale/Kane/Krauss delusion. The Kale/Kane/Krauss delusion is the belief that (usually) a sugary or fatty substance (in the case of food/beverage) or inferior image (in the case of film/art) or a silly song/speech/youtube video (in the case of music or other audio/video phenomenon) will provide the same experience and long-term results as the superior alternative (e.g. Kale, Citizen Kane or Allison Krause).

  9. April Pickle

    I was feeling loafey for a Russ Ramsey photo while in the Rabbit Room, but then I read Fr. Thomas’ comment.
    I think it’s an adverb, however, not an adjective. It’s great. Hope it wins and also hope I find it in the next volume of The Molehill. 🙂

  10. Jennifer

    This reminds me a little of a favorite quote from Garrison Keillor in his story “True Elegance”. He talks about growing up and wondering if his friends would respect him if they knew he lived in a family that observed a low-medium level of housekeeping and what his family did when unexpected guests stopped by the house. He explains how they would throw everything in the closets and shove the dog down the stairs as their mom opened the door. He said, “We were artists, putting on a show for people, trying to show them a neat home. I believe in that. I believe in pretense. I believe in elegance and glamour and I believe that sometimes you just have to look reality in the eye and deny it.”

    However, I guess your post seems to be less about delusional pretense and more about good intentions not being fulfilled.

    So, I’m going with Intended Reality Deferred Or Intended Reality Denied Syndrome.

    Or maybe the Awry Syndrome. “Best laid plans…”

    Or Druthers Syndrome as in If I had my druthers

    still thinking.

  11. Jennifer

    I was driving my 11-year-old home just now and asked him what he’d call it.

    “I’d just call it lazy.”

  12. Chris

    Aspiration Dissonance Disorder (oh wait, that’s ADD). Aspiration Dissonance Syndrome. The difference between what we aspire to be and what we actually are. I get this when I walk through Barnes & Nobles. I’m overwhelmed by all the “important” books I “should” read, but then I mostly go back to reading lots of sci-fi and fantasy and stuff.

  13. Thomas McKenzie


    Three things:

    1) I don’t think my suggestion perfectly fits with what JR is asking.
    2) I apparently don’t understand parts of speech.
    3) Julie’s IDD (Intention Deficit Disorder) is my favorite so far. Besides mine, which is fantastic and should definitely win.

  14. April Pickle

    I still like loafey, but you got me looking up words (How’s that for grammar?) and I’d like to throw in “denienocaru.” Denien means deny, no means no, and caru means care. It means to deny that you don’t really care for something. Maybe it could be shortened to “denocar,” but it still doesn’t ring like loafey. Oh, well.

  15. Mark

    Cultur0-reflexive guilt

    We feel guilty because we don’t feel we meet the expectations of the culture. The Whole Foods experience makes us feel that if we don’t eat salads, we are “bad.” So we temporarily desire salads. The netflix documentary section makes us feel that we are un-cultured swine, so we add some to our queue with good intentions.

    We do the same thing in church, we hear sermons that make us feel guilty so we vow to “do better,” without actually seeking and allowing the Holy Spirit to effect the change in us.

  16. Jill Phillips

    Wow, so glad I kept reading after “White-Washed Sepulcher” syndrome… I was beginning to really feel bad about myself! Intention Deficit Disorder it is. And I do like salad sometimes, just not the raging salad fan I find myself pretending to be when surrounded by hippies and moms wearing yoga pants.

  17. Chris S.

    I really, really want to read Bonhoeffer’s ‘Ethics’….until I have time to read… Come to think of it, I often really want to read the Bible until it comes time to do it. At that point suddenly any printed word in my house from Dr. Seuss to the aforementioned ‘Ethics’ holds an inexplicable fascination.

    In myself, it’s all about pretense (to borrow a word from a previous post). The salad-smitten me in Whole Foods is the me that wants to be more intellectual, more spiritual, more likable, more well-read – the me that’s yankin’ on the bootstraps for all he’s worth.

    So I’ll go with ‘pretension’ as the name.

  18. Eowyn

    @Jill I’m sorry – that wasn’t very sympathetic. For what it’s worth, I do it all the time. 🙂

  19. Jill Phillips

    No worries, Eowyn… I was trying to make a joke too. That’s the internet for you. Now we should find a name for things lost in translation virtually:)

  20. Jonathan Rogers

    I’ve been traveling today, but now that I’m settled in Opelika Alabama (where an old textile mill is burning even now–a huge conflagration!) I’m looking over these great entries. I’ll declare a winner tomorrow; you have at least another 12 hours to enter. Somebody’s going to get a beautiful picture of Russ Ramsey’s beautiful hair.

  21. Dan Foster

    In the summer of 2011 I read The Brothers Karamazov. The whole thing. Every page.

    I mention this because I figure it gives me about 10 years worth of excuses in which I download to my Kindle a literary classic or a theological book and when I sit down to start reading it I say, “hey, didn’t Sports Illustrated come today? I’d better look at that before its old news.”

    I think we think our tastes and our desires are better and more noble than they really are, so I submit:

    Affection Misperception

  22. Kari

    Ha! I do this all the time, and while I like the title IDD very much, I think I have to admit Jennifer’s 11-year-old has encapsulated it succinctly and completely. Lazy. Although I do prefer “very dang tired,” just for a more sympathetic tone. Those great book and movie titles look so awesome when I’m awake (11 AM while I’m fixing lunch, catching up on Rabbit Room posts, and making art with my 2-year-old…all at the same time). But once the kids go to bed, my brain shuts down. Princess Bride again? Yes, thank you.

  23. Kari

    Ha! I do this all the time, and while I like the title IDD very much, I think I have to admit Jennifer’s 11-year-old has encapsulated it succinctly and completely. Lazy. Although I do prefer “very dang tired,” (VDT?) just for a more sympathetic tone. Those great book and movie titles look so awesome when I’m awake (11 AM while I’m fixing lunch, catching up on Rabbit Room posts, and making art with my 2-year-old…all at the same time). But once the kids go to bed, my brain shuts down. Princess Bride again? Yes, thank you.

  24. Clay

    I really like Julie’s Intention Deficit Disorder (IDD). Since I have felt left out in my family because I’m not OCD or ADD, now I can claim my very own disorder. Thanks, Julie.


    You can call it a “Huggie” or a “Huggie Moment”

    for, “I’ll be taking these Huggies and whatever cash you got…”

    Dave Barnes sings…’Sometimes what we want, isn’t what we get. Sometimes what we get, ain’t really what we want.’

    In truth, it’s probably a spirit/flesh thing. Sometimes we wanna see Oskar Schindler leave camp with all those people that he saved. And that is really a wonderful thing. Other times we just wanna see Ernest go to camp…

    Whadya gonna do?


    Off Queue

    “I had an Off Queue moment.”


    Queue Tip

    Andrew: I had a Queue Tip moment.
    Ben: A what moment?
    Andrew: A Queue Tip moment. I teetered, toppled, tottered and tipped. But now I’m okay.
    Ben: So, you don’t wanna hear, Bulletproof?
    Andrew: No, I’m good.
    Ben: Barry Manilow?
    Andrew: Nope.
    Ben: fun.?

  27. SD Smith

    In Christian love, I’d say Julie is the clear winner, no matter what Jonathan’s corrupt dictatorship chooses. (Who started that fire, anyway? We didn’t.)

  28. Marcus

    I suppose I’m a little late to the party here, but how about “intendonitis”?
    “I just haven’t been able to get to any of those home repair projects I bought supplies for because I’ve got this nagging case of intendonitis…”

  29. KJ

    That’s it! “Intendonitis”. It’s not a lack of intentions, but too many of them not being carried out.

  30. PaulH

    I could not think of anything more clever than Julie’s IDD. That actually sounds clinically correct.

    It happens to me at the Rabbit Room: Everytime I am here, all I want to do is drink coffee, put on a Ben Shive CD and get lost in a great book. Then I am snapped to by my “to-do-list” and have to log off.

  31. Tony Heringer

    IDD and Sphere-pressure are my two favorites so far. I am not however aligning myself with the infidel S.D. Smith. Anyone using such language against our beloved supreme dictator Rogers should be put in the comfy chair or at least subjected to lame jokes — perhaps the torture has already begun? You’ll never know Smith — you have been warned sir! Hold thy tongue…er…fingers!

  32. PaulH

    Actually I desire those things I mentioned whether I am here or not. So, I am quite relieved that the RR doesn’t cause me this acute disorder.

    Although I am quite sure Lowe’s and Home Depot are IDD deathtraps for me.

  33. Jonathan Rogers

    This is a close one. I love Eric’s “sphere pressure.” I also love Julie’s IDD (Intentional Deficit Disorder). Julie and I have had our differences in the past. Many of them. Moreover, SD Smith has further diminished Julie’s chances by butting his nose in and trying to dictate to the dictator (or Dear Leader, which I prefer). Nevertheless, in a stunning bit of reverse psychology, I may declare Julie the winner anyway. Capriciousness is the prerogative of the dictator.

    Machiavelli said it was better to be feared than loved, but I won’t be dictated to by Machiavelli either, so in an effort to be lovable I’m declaring two winners. Congratulations to both Julie and Eric. If you’ll send your mailing address to, we’ll get a picture of Russ Ramsey out to you. As it turns out, Russ is out of town. But I have power is attorney and will sign it on his behalf.

    PS. KJ wins honorable mention for “intendonitis.”

  34. Julie Silander

    Given the strife and division that has come as a direct result of my presence in this contest, and given my allegiance to community over self, I hereby abdicate my rightful place as titleholder.

    Thomas, all is not lost. If I hadn’t abdicated, I was going to request a “before and after” picture of the Taylor Mart in lieu of Russ’s picture. You are the champion, my friend.

    As for JR…

    “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.” Thomas Jefferson

  35. April Pickle

    LOL! These comments were my favorite read of the day. Is it because the Rabbit Room makes me feel loafey? I think not. I’d like these comments anywhere. Thank you, DL, for a great post and
    contrats to Julie, Eric and Marcus. I’m off to eat some fish and chips because I’m loafey for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day, thanks to the DL’s biography on SP that I’ve been reading this week.

  36. Kalen

    One of my friends calls people who dress punk/hipster/emo at festivals “festies” (yes, I realize it’s not the most attractive nickname). Basically, they’re people who really only dress that way to fit the occasion and act as if this is how they dress and act all of the time.

    Aren’t we all “festies” to an extent, though? Our human desire to fit in extends even to the way we eat. We go to a health food store, or spend time with our uber-healthy vegan friends, and all of the sudden eating healthy is one of our top priorities in life and we start buying obscure foods like kale and edamame (not to mock those who eat these foods – I happen to love them, myself). Then we go to the gym, and talk to our exercise buddies about our new plans to become the fittest of them all. We go out to ice cream with friends, and all of the sudden our attitude turns to – “screw the diet.” We blog and everything we post has to put us in the correct light; we hyper-spiritualize our lives (sometimes), or post only the exciting pictures to make everyone think that we don’t actually just sit at home on Friday nights and watch reruns. It’s our human nature. We long to fit in.

    So, we could call ourselves “festies,” or maybe a better term is just – “human.”

    However, “intendonitis” is pretty accurate, in my opinion, as well. Plus, it sounds cooler.

  37. Linda

    Oh my, guilty as charged with your examples of Netflix AND World Foods!

    Lots of inspiring ideas! I like the druther’s syndrome (I’druther do almost anything else than…), Jill’s IDD and Sphere-pressure.

    Another example–when I visit a friend at the library, I closely peruse all the books I want/should/ought to read. I even checkout one or two of them. But usually they accompany me back to the library unread–perhaps, unopened. It’s easier to read Rabbit Room 🙂 Or Amazon’s description of the books and others’ reviews..

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