With the advent and global dissemination of high-speed connections combined with our ability to access information in amounts and frequencies never before seen in human history, thanks in large part to the important contributions of the digital age we’ve witnessed in the past decade, we have become at times bombarded with information.
When we see a new article, news feed, list of 25 hacks for using unusable items we may want to discard, or even video clips, there’s a Let me watch that later/ Let me read that later response that is taking over the way many people are processing information on the net. It calls to mind the classic movie images we see of the overworked, and often put-upon office clerk who, despite his best efforts, has an unending and loose stack of papers on his desk that at times seems to magically refill itself.
This phenomenon—representing a fundamental change in the way in which we process information on the Internet ‘pops up’ in the most noticeable way in the way we manage the tabs on our PCs and mobile devices. How many of us now have dead tabs, sitting on browser like old stock in a warehouse, from yesterday, last week, three weeks ago, or even more than a month ago? The effects are many, and cumulative: browser slow-downs, followed by effects on the virtual memory, and in extreme cases, a crash to your system.
The tabs are also a guarantee that we will return to the PC or mobile device, at times the bait that ensures that we overuse the Internet. This has two effects: it becomes more difficult to prioritize information we find on the net, and secondly, there is a greater chance of putting unnecessary strain on our eyes, and the full extent of the effects we are not aware.
Opthamologist Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler says of eyestrain and its effects:
"We definitely see a lot of people who complain of [it]...Hours upon hours of close focusing without taking a break is usually the main culprit[, which...] forces your eyes to work harder than usual as you strain to focus on tiny font sizes." Fortunately, there are a number of quick, but effective techniques we can use to address vision fatigue, as "our eyes are just not designed to be used at that close distance for a long period of time.”
The tabs are in many ways a metaphor for our minds: the overload of information we experience daily, which our minds may deny, or we may rationalize. The tabs, however, do not lie. Moreover, tabs are also a metaphor for the extent to which we let information infiltrate our lives. As we are discovering more and more with technology, information must also be kept in balance in our lives. After all, who among us can predict the array of exciting information that is store for us in the future?