December 21, 2020•548 words
I started using Firefox Focus today.
I initially discovered it probably a year-year and a half ago when I began looking for browser alternatives (to whatever I was using at the time, I don't remember) on my phone. I've always enjoyed downloading and testing new apps, for better or for worse (see Clean - 5 down below), and when I tried Focus out for the first time, it was a strange experience. I found myself liking the app's aesthetics, and was excited for its built-in content blockers - I didn't have the Safari setup that I do now - but did notice one thing that I felt was missing: where's the Tab view?
Turns out there wasn't one. Firefox Focus limits you to one tab, no matter how much you want to add more.
This turned me off at the time, especially since my lack of a laptop computer meant that I had to do my primary browsing on my phone. I was disappointed, and deleted the app; how could I browse without tabs?
When I rediscovered it yesterday, by accident, I found myself intrigued rather than disappointed.
What if I could only have one tab? How much would that change my browsing habits?
Tabs were thought of as an improvement when they became commercial in 1992 (though buzzfeed says they were invented in 1987). And they were, no doubt. Tabs make the web browser much more versatile and allow you to pursue multiple items at once, while keeping others open to be looked at later. Suddenly, cross-referencing sites became a breeze, and multitasking became much more possible.
However, that exact behavior - multitasking and pursuing multiple agenda items at once - has become a problem for me, mostly on mobile. The design of Safari, my usual primary browser, makes it incredibly easy for me to pile up tabs, since they persist across sessions and can be easily opened silently in the background. (other factors contribute, but that's not really what this post is about.) This is The Collector's Fallacy at its finest: I see something potentially cool, open it in the background, but end up exiting the app without looking into it further. Repeat this over and over for months, and I end up with the 458 tabs that are sitting in my single private window.
On a separate but connected note, I've also noticed myself getting more and more forgetful and aloof. I think this is due in part to the massive amount of time I spend reinforcing this browsing behavior - I often work on side projects during boring classes - but that's a discussion for another time. Noticing this behavior has made me want to change it, so I'm taking steps to try to do so; this is one of them.
I'm hoping that moving to Firefox Focus, if only temporarily, will help me change my thought patterns and browsing habits for the better. I've already noticed myself feeling more organized and streamlined, so I'm hoping that if (and probably when) I do end up returning and starting fresh in Safari, I'll behave differently - I'll have become mpre 'Focused'.
I'll write an update post, eventually. Look out for that (though if you're reading in reverse chronological order you might have already read it).