I do actually want to read these web pages. Not that it would be a disaster if I couldn’t, but there is a reason I keep them around, and that is for the sake of actually reading them.
So I actually want low friction. If the friction was higher, I’d end up reading less of them, and that would be moderately sad.
But if it’s causing you panic, sure, it could make sense to do that. Part of the reason I don’t panic is that I know that I have things under control (with Beeminder), and I know that I eventually will get to most of them at some point or another.
And that is why you back up your browser tabs, the same way you backup every other piece of information you don’t want to lose. I use Tarsnap for my computer backups, but whatever tool or service you use I definitely recommend including your browser profile in it.
I assume my browser tabs are backed up. But I know I wouldn’t bother to restore them out of a backup in case I lost them. Even though TimeMachine makes this very very easy.
Most of them I can research again rather quickly. Some of them won’t even be applicable anymore by the time I would get to actually read through them. Some I would read and then couple minutes later forget about again.
Sometimes, yes, there is a few tabs that took some effort to get to. Yes. But so far Safari has been good to me and I don’t remember when I last lost one of those.
Yes, in practice browsers usually don’t crash and eat your tabs. It’s nice to have backups anyway, both for piece of mind and to make it easy when you switch to a new computer.
It is true that many tabs aren’t that interesting or worthwhile when you actually get to them. Sure, so you close it and move on to the next one. That you’ve got something in your backlog to look at should never be treated as a commitment.
My Beeminder goal whose graphs I shared above is very intentionally a whittle-down goal measuring the number of open tabs I have. For each tab, it doesn’t matter if I read it deeply or realize that it’s not worth reading and close it, or anything in between.
This works really quite well: I get to read some really interesting things that would otherwise have fallen by the wayside, and I never have force myself to read things I don’t want to.