Too many open tabs may be a sign of 'tab-sundoku'
There are two types of people on the Internet — the person who closes a browser tab when he’s done using it, and the other kind. I’m definitely the latter.
Several times a week, someone will walk into my office and say, “You know… Your computer might run a little faster if you closed about 20 of those tabs.”
“Thanks,” I invariably respond. (Because I’m like that.) I mean, I know there’s a chance things might run a little more smoothly if I broke myself of that habit, but I like having information at my fingertips.
And then, earlier this week, I learned that there’s a name for my particular affliction. It’s called “tab-sundoku,” and it’s based on the Japanese concept of “tsundoku” — the idea of letting books pile up, even though you have plenty of things to read.
I’m guilty of that, too. In fact, I recently had to buy two more six-foot bookshelves, which have now spilled out of my home office and into my kitchen.
This idea of “tab-sundoku” was coined by a writer named Rachel Withers, who recently wrote a piece about this common phenomenon for Slate.
“Tab-sundoku is like the RAM-destroying love child of inbox overflow and tsundoku, and as someone guilty of both — 5,000 emails and 100 or so books — my tab-sundoku is especially acute,” Withers explains. “My browser is the virtual equivalent of a room stacked ceiling-high with precarious piles, arranged in a system only I understand.”
Inbox overflow? Now we have the trifecta. At the present moment, I have 104,600 unread emails in my inbox. (I think I may have mentioned this ever-growing number in a recent column I wrote about email newsletters.) In fact, if Ms. Withers’ condition is acute, mine may be critical. I currently have 18 tabs open, in four separate browser windows, spread out across two screens before me.
She lays out the argument that all of these symptoms are simply signs of a healthy curiosity — to which I am a living testament. I often say I feel like I was born with a reading list I’ll never finish. The same is true of many of those open tabs. And I understand that there is no shortage of programs and plug-ins and apps to help break me of this habit, to help cure me of this affliction.
But, see, here’s the thing: I don’t want to be cured. I’m perfectly willing to admit that I have a problem; I have bookshelves in my kitchen, for crying out loud.
Except for occasionally getting a little bogged down from time to time, I’m pretty okay accepting that this is my lot in life. My curiosity is my cross to bear. And I will forever have a reading list that I will never finish.
— Originally Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News, 09/27/18