How a Tech Glitch Paved the Way for a Fresh Start

After accidentally deleting a long list of treasured links, something better took its place.

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Posted in , Jan 6, 2022

Computer glitch

My husband often teases me when he asks me about something and I say, “ooh, I just read an article about that!” and proceed to open the browser in my phone and scroll frantically in search of the link. For years, I’ve made it a habit of building a long—at least 250 tabs-long—stack of articles, recipes, inspiring quotes and poems, craft ideas, fodder for this blog and more. 

I keep open the recipe for my now-standard sourdough loaf. I have several interviews with authors whose books I’ve enjoyed. Long-form pieces on spiritual, emotional and political topics dot the landscape. The site where our family’s favorite podcast lives stays open. And, too-frequently-visited, I have saved the dashboard that tracks Covid cases in my son’s school.

It’s that last tab that gave me an unexpected fresh start on New Year’s Day. I had learned how to pull a tab down to the bottom of the stack by holding my finger on it and dragging it to where I wanted it. This is helpful for tabs like the Covid dashboard, which I want to be able to access without scrolling backwards through the other saved links. With the Omicron variant surging and school starting up again, I was feeling my anxiety spike…which was leading to more frequent refreshing of the page to see if any numbers had changed over the holiday week.

“Refresh” is an inviting and ironic term we use to describe the action of re-setting the connection on a given web page to pull in any updates or changes. Repeated refreshing, whether on a news site or a Covid dashboard, rarely gives me a sense of peace or renewal. But in my nervousness, I felt I needed easy access to the school site and wanted to drag it to the bottom of the long stack of links.

I held my finger on tab and hastily pulled it downward. But for whatever reason, instead of moving the link as I expected, my finger accidentally swiped across a button that said “clear all tabs.” 

My 250-tab, two-year curated internet treasure trove and resource library was gone. Some frantic online searching kindled brief glimmers of hope they could be restored, but within a few minutes I realized there was no “undo” for this boo-boo.

I stared in disbelief and frustration for a few long moments before I realized something else. I had given myself a clean slate, a blank page, a browser in need of a search term. 

So many of my saved links were precious to me, and I foresee future moments of lamentation as I wish I could flip effortlessly to a favorite page. But I also know there were tabs on my list that no longer served me—recipes I was not likely to return to, art projects I was not going to embark on. Like an instantaneous, thorough closet clean-out, my tech glitch had forced me to consider what I actually need (and want) ready access to, what I really want to search for here, now.

In short order, my heartbreak began to ease. I felt steady, able to trust both that I would be able to reconnect with the links that were most important to me and that I would discover new favorites to bring me joy and meaning in 2022. I became quietly, reflectively bemused at the unanticipated resolution I’d just made. If pressed, I might even use the word “refreshed.”

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