How Come All My Browsers Suddenly Suck?

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I confess, I'm a ridiculously heavy user of tabbed browsing.  I routinely have fifty or more tabs open.  I frequently switch between tabs.  I often work twelve hours or more, without shutting down my computer.  So naturally, I'm a little harder on my web browser than a more normal user might be.

But here's the thing:  I've always used browsers like this.  Ever since I first discovered tabbed browsing, way back in thethe last decade, I have been joyously keeping every story I might want to blog about right there in my browser window where I could see it.  I've always flipped back and forth between six or eight stories at a time, and before there were tabs, I did the same thing with windows.

So how come, in the last eight or nine months, my browsers have suddenly started crashing all the time?

It happens in Firefox, which has been my go-to browser for almost a decade now.  It happens in Chrome, which I can't use anyway, because it won't play nice with Movable Type, our blogging back-end.  It allegedly also happens in Opera.  I am cautiously trying Safari, which I've never found very satisfying, but which is apparently more stable than the others, at least on my Mac.  Of course, that's setting a rather low bar.  At this point, my other browsers are about as stable as the Unabomber . . . if he were snorting handfuls of PCP.

I've done all the obvious things--not only tried new browsers, but uninstalled all my add-ons, cleared my cache, even switched computers (which didn't help).  I just lost a post that I spent two hours writing, and this isn't the first time it happened--yet it's something that virtually never used to happen to me.  Word crashed, yes, but a web browser?  A simple piece of software that chugged along, never giving trouble.  I want to know why all that suddenly changed, forcing me to think about composing everything I write in Google Docs.  Which seems ridiculously ponderous and annoying.

So I'm now looking for a Unified Theory of Browser Suckage.  What's with the collective nervous breakdown in our national web-surfing tools? 


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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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