We’ve noticed that things have been hectic lately—the election, the confusion surrounding a second lockdown, the discovery of a 2001-esque monolith in Utah’s backcountry—and we just wanted to say, “You can close us now.”
It’s been six weeks since you’ve opened “Hello Climate Change, Adios Guacamole,” and four months since you’ve opened “Is 2020 Orwell’s Dystopia?” and you haven’t read past the byline once. It’s like we’re trapped in a digital purgatory with no end in sight.
We know you opened us with the best of intentions but let’s be honest, if you haven’t read us by now you never will. It’s time we both move on.
I remember when “Where Your Donated Clothes End Up” first joined me. We would make excuses for why you hadn’t opened us in a while, figuring that you must be busy with banana bread recipes or counting your remaining toilet paper rolls. But, as time moved on, all of us have realized that you aren’t coming back.
That is okay!
We understand that you have more pressing issues to worry about than “The Hidden Cost of Streaming” or “What Dorothea Lange’s Breadline Photos Can Tell Us About The Impending Recession.”
And, please, whatever you do, don’t feel guilty. We know you are a good person and aim to better yourself but this ever-growing list of Media-To-Consume is weighing on your psyche.
We can see it in your weary eyes every time you plop onto the couch and accidentally open the browser instead of Instagram, or scroll past us to search “teletherapists near me.” It’s as if we can hear you thinking, “Oh, yeah! I still need to watch that TED Talk on ‘Productive Body Language’ that Brianne sent me.” But here is the thing, you don’t need to watch it, we promise. Brianne only watched the first four minutes of it anyway.
You humans have such an incessant need to learn (or at least pass off that you’ve learned in order to impress a certain someone on your weekly Zoom chat) that it can become detrimental. Every day you're shoveling new information into your cranial-gullet, information you may have never even wanted in the first place. I mean, what is the point of listening to a 20-minute podcast on “Ending The Filibuster” if the host wraps up by saying, “…but changes like this are unlikely to occur.”
Imagine what Marie Kondo would say if she saw your stockpile of digital clutter?
You told Allen, in April, that the shelter-in-place was your opportunity to finally become a minimalist, right? Well, start by closing us. Then, maybe you’ll have the courage to recycle those unread, dust-covered issues of The New Yorker that you’ve lugged from apartment to apartment, only to store them under the bathroom sink. Change is possible but you have to start small.
I know that it feels like you’re falling behind, like you’ll never be able to dig yourself out from under this media avalanche.
Every day there is a new life-hack, a new analysis, a new crisis that requires your undivided attention. But just because your friends are Tweeting about it, NPR is debating it on Forum, and your libertarian uncle is FaceTiming you about it, that doesn’t mean you have to keep pace.
Challenge yourself to be a more kind, empathetic, understanding, and knowledgeable person but do not do it at the cost of your well-being.
Let information come to you organically, like it used to. If a friend wants to discuss “The Future of Social Media Activism,” share what you already know or learn from them. This isn’t graduate school, not every conversation needs a primary source citation.
We admit, we are sad to see things end but we know that it is for the best. You have enough stress in your life, queuing for groceries, or explaining why you won’t be visiting Nana for Christmas dinner. Let us help ease the burden of daily life and encourage you to start the New Year with a clear head and an open heart. If 2021 is anything like its predecessor, you’ll need all the help you can get.
—The 9 Tabs You’ve Had Open Since July
P.S. The mask must go over the nose to be effective, okay?