You can tell a lot about a person’s life from the files they have open on their browser.

Too many tabs

Too many tabs

Eugene, my computer guy, says I shouldn’t keep so many files open. But like with my desk, if I put things away, I’ll forget about them. So I leave them out and layers of other things gather on top of them and then I forget about them anyway.

Just yesterday, while taking my Organizing Challenge, under a pile on my desk, I found a dress I meant to return back in June.

Similarly, on my browser, I keep Sites open, holding onto the fantasy I’ll get around to reading them:

  • An article about devices that help you watch your home from afar
  • Twitter so I can check every 20 minutes to see if anyone retweeted my Holy Guacamole! tweet as well as see what my daughters are up to.
  • Likewise, a tab to my stats that show how popular my blog posts are and, by association, how popular I am.
  • “A Pro Confides his Best Tips for Painting Exteriors” I hope will help me figure out the best painter from the six I’m interviewing.

A tab with a “Consumer Reports” report on point and shoot cameras is open, so I can compare the one I just bought to the ones I didn’t buy. Is it a worrywart thing to seek opportunities for regret (and then regret having done so)?

Also open is Adam Gopnik’s piece about dogs in the “New Yorker.” It’s reassuring to know it is only a click away. But also anxiety-provoking; the tab is a steady reminder I don’t make time to read.

The “New Yorker” Festival Site is open with events ranging from a tasting walk in Greenwich Village with Calvin Trillin to Malcolm Gladwell waxing about The Virtues of Obnoxiousness. If I weren’t commitment averse, I’d buy tickets and close this tab.

Instead, I entered the limerick contest to see if I could win some tickets, which takes the matter out of my hands:

  • A writer of wee note I became
  • But my dream in this role was not fame (false, but here for the sake of rhyme and meter)
  • Nor a view of the High Line
  • Nor a New York Times byline
  • But on New Yorker Fete’s slate my name.

(Hm, I worry they (and you for that matter) will not get the last line, my dream to be a featured writer in the Festival.)

I could make a file of these links, but I worry I’ll lose my place in the dog article if I close it and who needs one more file to keep track of?

Plus, as with newspapers that pile up, well, you know what happens, I chuck them on recycle day, and then I feel guilty I haven’t read them as well as worried I’ve missed something great.

Eugene is always telling me to reboot my computer more often for it to run its best. So once in a while I summon up the discipline to bid my tabs good-bye, and I log out only to start accumulating all over again, knowing I’ll never remember there was once a really great dog story I didn’t finish.

I’d love to see in the comments below what your open tabs say about you.

Check out my Home Goes Strong articles.

See my latest Huff Po post New York has The Moth, DC has SpeakeasyDC.

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