Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’re doing so on your fifth, sixth or maybe even the seventh tab of your browser. Perhaps you saw this headline and figured, “Ehh, I could maybe read that later,” then did what we all do when we want to read something but don’t really want to read it: You right clicked and opened it elsewhere for future you.
Half the time, of course, you never get around to reading the story, and it just joins the nine other stories festering on one of your four browser windows, each with its own set of eight to twelve tabs. Your internet browser becomes a sort of filing cabinet for saving news-y articles, the six different pairs of shoes you’re still on the fence about and a plethora of online gift baskets for items you definitely don’t need. Until eventually, your computer cries uncle.
Or, best of all, you’re done with your work and have the privilege of clicking those “x’s” yourself — no technical difficulties necessary — and cleaning house. It’s a hallucinatory moment when you get to feel like you just emptied out some hellish storage closet with but a few lifts of your finger.
For students, this tab closure jubilee is a sort of celebration dance. “Closing all your tabs when you’re finished writing an essay is like running a victory lap,” per one redditor. Another notes that you get extra points if you “sassily slap the lid of your laptop down as if it was the one who caused you all of that anxiety and pain.”
Others have used the metaphor of saying “bye felicia” to a bunch of tabs on their dashboard to illustrate how vital it is to focus on one thing at a time. “Work, life and goals continually pull me in many different directions. Add obligations, desires and anxiety to that,” writes digital media strategist Brittany Maria Wright on her blog. “If I were to compartmentalize these things into internet tabs, I would have a million tabs open all the time… just like I do at work. And just like my work computer, I needed to find a way to close the tabs before I crashed myself.”
So what is it about closing all these tabs that feels so good? While there’s no scientific research as such dedicated to understanding this sweet alleviation, we can assume that it’s psychologically similar to just getting rid of a load of crap. According to Japanese tidying guru — and recent Netflix breakout star — Marie Kondo, cleaning and clearing out is all about a shift in energy. “Kondo urges readers to purge their whole place at once, starting with clothes, then books, papers, miscellany and mementos,” Zak Stone reported for MEL back in 2016. “There is one criterion and one criterion alone: Keep only the things that ‘spark joy.’”
In other words, if that tab featuring a 5,000-word investigative report on prison reform is just a reminder of how little time you have to yourself to read, just get rid of it. Or better yet, add it to your bookmarks, where it will also never be read, but at least without causing any residual bandwidth issues on your computer.
To that end, Elizabeth Su, a life coach, mindfulness expert and certified yoga teacher, told Elite Daily about how important cleaning can be to relieving stress. “Cleaning can be a beautiful practice of non-attachment and realizing that we are not defined by the things that surround us,” she explained. “You can learn a lot about yourself by the simple act of decluttering and paying attention to what things truly hold meaning in your life.”
Basically, if that Chrome window still consists primarily of reviews for seven different types of vape pens interspersed with research for a political science paper on Chomsky and American hegemony, it’s time to take a good look at that red “x” in the left corner of your browser window and just say, “Screw it.”