(Slate) Let Your Unread Tabs Pile Up
By RACHEL WITHERS SEPT 10, 201811:42 AM
There is no shame in having a gazillion to-be-read articles in your browser.
The Japanese have a word for the act of acquiring books and letting them pile up unread.
Tsundoku—a play on the words tsunde (“to stack things”), oku (“to leave for a while”) and doku (“to read”)—is recognizable to book hoarders worldwide. You see a title and you just have to have it, even though you already have more unread books on your bedside table than you could possibly read in a year … but you’re going to get to it eventually, right? Tsundoku is such a relatable but untranslatable concept that it regularly re-enters our Western consciousness through online articles. In fact, Googling the word might lead you straight into another problem. I call it “Tab-sundoku,” or the even more recognizable act of opening tabs and letting them pile up unread.
If this article isn’t your 15th-plus tab, bravo. But there’s a reason Slate’s tech podcast If Then calls its weekly recommendations “Don’t Close My Tabs”: An overabundance of tabs is a well-established problem among those who spend their entire days combing the internet, where distraction reigns king. You just have to open that article, even though you’re in the middle of something … but you’re going to get to it eventually, right? It’s book piling on a smaller, more intense scale—there’s so much more fascinating online content than you could ever possibly consume, but it’s all so bite-size and clickable (or not so bite-sized—that Very Important but Very Long New York Times interactive essay you’re going to get to eventually is the virtual equivalent of taking on War and Peace). Some suggest academics are especially prone to tsundoku—I would suggest digital journalists might be more prone to tab-sundoku. Excessive tabs show, more than anything, a deep curiosity, a thirst for knowledge.