I have very few rituals around work, but one of them is getting very mad and swearing at my computer around 5 p.m. (nearly) every day because either my computer or my internet or both are freaking out. One hypothesis, offered by my colleague Jack—who has a knack for offering helpful solutions for potentially avoiding any problem, you know, next time it happens—is that I rarely close my browser tabs.
Do not tell me I’m wrong about this; I love my tabs!! Why would I waste valuable seconds of my life opening Gmail in a new tab each morning, opening my work calendar, and opening all my other various mainstay tabs when I could just slam my computer shut at the end of each day? It’s liberating, you should try it!
So by the end of the week, yes, I have one million tabs: online shopping tabs, news story tabs, Splinter tabs, longform tabs that I’ll resign myself to never reading, tabs, tabs, tabs. You can imagine my disgust when several of my colleagues revealed that they do not, in fact, share my outlook on tabs. I’ll allow them to explain their philosophy in their own words here and allow you to decide who’s sane and rational and who’s a tabs weirdo.
This is not particularly complicated to me. Too many tabs slow my computer down and make it impossible to see what I actually have in my browser. They’re also more often than not heavily tilted towards things like old tweets or stories I already read. So I....close them. Sometimes I even close my whole browser. The cacophony dies away, the slate is wiped clean, and for one second, life refreshes itself. The notion that having to click the bookmark for my email once I reopen Chrome represents a gulag-level hardship is not one I care to grapple with too heavily here. —Jack Mirkinson
Katherine has already mentioned the #1 reason to keep your damn tabs open which is: you’re going to need them tomorrow!!! Yes, sure, there are times when you should let go of an article you’ll never read, a pair of shoes you don’t really need, or a tweet you were gonna rage reply to five hours ago....but there are several tabs that I use every single day!! Those tabs (and usually a few others that I’m not ready to let go of yet) stay open every night when I shut my laptop. And to be clear on the motivation here, I’d never advocate the kind of lifestyle in which you make every choice with efficiency in mind, but shutting it all down every night seems like a terrible waste of time. Help your future self and keep some tabs open.
As to why this issue seems to divide along gender lines, I know our esteemed Libby Watson has a take, and I can’t wait to hear it!! It’s probably going to be very good. Personally, I quickly identified a few gender stereotypes that I thought could apply, but I won’t elucidate them here because writing them down made me annoyed with myself and also gender is a construct. —Caitlin Schneider
I like to think that I live a simple life. Love my family and friends. Tolerate my coworkers. Enjoy tasty food. Tabs are antithetical to all this. They’re an unfortunate necessity, of course—I open one, read a little, let my eyes glaze over, keep reading, and close it. After that it’s out of sight, out of mind. Keeping tabs open for more than an hour at a time is like wearing the same underwear day after day. Sure, your ass stays covered, but at what cost? I say: Close your tabs. Start each day anew. Bask in the glory of a clean browser while you can. There will always be more tabs.—Rafi Schwartz
I like to close tabs, but the end of the workday bears no meaning to my tabs at all. I only close a tab when I’m done with it, or when it’s been open for so long—usually four or five weeks—that I have to admit to myself that I’m never going to read it, or that the story I was going to pitch about the tab is now hopelessly outdated. I am not generally one of those people who has so many tabs open I can’t see which one is which, though. I tend to close tabs right after I’m done with them; a little treat, like crossing off a line on the to-do list. The only relaxing tabs-closing feeling I get is when I file a piece and I can close every related tab, finally confident I won’t need the Google results for “what is healthcare” and “how to write blog” anymore.
I’m aware of a possible gender divide on tabs among the Splinter staff, and I have a theory: Women feel more guilty about work, and therefore work-related tabs. They’re therefore less confident in throwing our unfinished tabs aside, assured that they’re good at their job without reading every single New Republic piece that flitters across their timelines. We have tabs imposter syndrome. Men are more likely to forgive themselves for not finishing an important but boring article; women are more likely to keep it there, a little vicious reminder that they could always be better informed, and better at their jobs. Our open tabs are the web browser equivalent of every “Sorry!” and “Just wondering if ...” email we’ve ever sent.—Libby Watson
Let me take you through my open tabs right now, in order from left to right: a Wall Street Journal story about woke millennial site Mic.com selling itself to God knows what; Chartbeat (how we monitor the site’s traffic live—it is extremely healthy to look at this); my work Gmail; my personal Gmail; a draft of a feature I’m editing; an agenda from my weekly meeting with all of Splinter’s editors; Google Calendar; my Twitter notifications; the LinkedIn page for a potential hire; a Deadspin story about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh; a Deadspin video where Barry tries to eat 50 eggs; Vulture.com; the Twitter account for a potential freelancer I might commission work from; that freelancer’s personal website where I found clips of their work; The New York Times story about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein allegedly contemplating wearing a wire while talking to Trump; “The Best Sheets Will Make You Unreasonably Excited to Go to Sleep” (??? don’t remember how I got here); this post you are reading right now; a Google search for “everyday is a winding road”; this article on Select All called, “The Magic of Twerendipity, or Twit’s a Small World After All.”
There are approximately three hours left in my work day. During that interim, some of these tabs will be closed and plenty more will be opened. But when I leave the office today, I will do as I do every day: I will turn my computer off, closing all of my tabs and applications. As it should be, I will forget most of the tabs I opened today; you don’t need to remember most of what you see online anyway. And if for some reason I absolutely need to find a tab I closed, it is very easy to search my browser (Chrome) history. My life is already weighed down by so much unyielding dread that I refuse to be pinned down further by 20-odd browser tabs, which by design are meant to be closed. Close them, it’s fine. —Aleksander Chan