My God, It’s Full Of Tabs!

Since I can’t think of anything else to write about (busy work week) and it’s getting late (lack of buffer), let’s talk about my Internet browsing habits.

No, not that kind. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Maybe it’s my ADD, but I tend to accrue a lot of open tabs and/or windows as I surf. I’ll see a link and want to follow it, but not move away from what I’m currently doing. Of course, by the time I get around to that new tab I may have completely forgotten what I wanted to do with it. Or my mood may have changed, and I’m less interested in it than I was. That’s okay, I’ll think. I’ll just leave it here and come back to it later.

You can imagine how well that works out.

My family first got online with AOL 3.0, but I soon grew tired of the program’s clunky interface. I must have been in high school (or early in college) when I realized that I could sign in to AOL (dial-up, of course) and use a different browser for actual surfing. It was here that I discovered the wonderful world that was multi-window browsing. I remember a time when my laptop’s entire taskbar was filled with Internet Explorer instances (give me a break, I was young and didn’t know better), each with an article waiting to be read.

I eventually discovered Firefox, and the joys of tabbed browsing. Now I could open a bunch of pages, but my computer was still largely usable! However, this meant I had even less incentive to control the number of tabs I had open. It was (is) not uncommon for me to completely forget why I opened a tab, but to “leave it for later” because it still looks interesting. The bottleneck then became performance: Firefox can be a bit of a memory hog with that many tabs open, and I would occasionally have to cull their numbers down to more manageable levels. Sometimes I even declared “tab bankruptcy,” where I closed everything and started from scratch, to make sure I wasn’t distracted by the articles or pages.

Oddly enough, I never really found myself missing something when I (metaphorically) shoveled all the papers on my desk into the trash can.

Things have started to change recently, mostly since I got my tablet last year. I now use a service called Pocket, which lets you save articles offline to be read later. I like to think that this keeps my tab count down, but really it just shuffles numbers around. Now, I have a bunch of unread articles in my Pocket feed instead of my web browser.

I am, however, trying to be better about compulsively clicking on things that sound vaguely interesting. I’m starting to realize that there is no way I could even approach reading everything that’s out there, and should really just let some stuff go. So I’ll occasionally sit down at my computer with the sole purpose of actually reading things I’ve opened. Breaks at work also make great opportunities to read articles from my Pocket feed (like when I’m avoiding reading my current novel, for instance).

So yeah. Does anyone else have that problem?