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I Never Play on the Internet -- I Work

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Right now I really should be picking up the wrapping paper, taking down the Christmas decorations, or mowing something, but instead, I'm "working on the internet."

That's what we guys say when it comes to being on the internet we're "working on it." We don't play, we don't message, and we wouldn't Google ourselves if our lives depended on it. We work, and we do so because it's expected of us and because it's the only thing that will get us out of putting away those silly Christmas lights that go into the box all rolled up, but will mysteriously come out a jumbled mess next December.

Some people say that the internet is nothing more than a great place to do a lot of nothing while giving the appearance of doing a lot of something. I'd probably agree, but I don't think it would be a wise thing for me to do at this time seeing that I'm trying to get out of rolling up those lights.

So let me reiterate what I've alluded to before: Whenever I'm on the internet, like I am right now, I'm always working. As a matter of fact, at this very moment I'm working on where to buy a pair of Yukon Charlie's Trail 930 Snowshoes (you never know when they'll come in handy), how I can justify the expense (I can't, but that's never stopped me), and where I can hide them so nobody will know I have them (I think I'll try right out in the open where no one will think of looking).

The problem most people get into while working on the internet comes from following links. Links are highlighted words or phrases that lead a person away from the job at hand to other destinations that, even though they may look enticing, steer a person down the path of certain doom and destruction. For instance, consider the example of James and Doris Westerfield, an ordinary American couple living in an ordinary American town:

James is sitting at his computer desk, mired in business reports and electronic financial ledgers, while Doris is elbow deep in unclogging a toilet. Let's listen in as Doris passes James' desk.

"Excuse me, but didn't you say you had a lot of work to do tonight?" she asks.

"Absolutely," James says. "Piles and piles of the stuff. I wish I could help you with the toilet, but I really need to focus on these numbers. I just don't know how I'm going to finish it all."

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"I don't know either, since I saw you playing that internet game," she says.

James looks up at his wife. She has a plunger in one hand and a wrench in the other. "Oh, that? I was just taking a break," he says. "You know, clearing the old noodle before it pops, that sort of thing."

"Hmmmm...well, I've got a better idea for clearing your noodle before it gets popped," she says, giving him the plunger. "And please make it snappy. The children have to pee."

James was doomed from the beginning because he decided to follow one link, which led to another, and then another, which eventually led him to the plunger and a clogged toilet. If he'd only stuck to his work, or at least minimized the game when he heard his wife approaching, he'd still be there today.

So let me ask: Do you find yourself hiding behind "internet work" when there are chores to be done? Do you keep an ear open for family members who might walk by and catch you partaking in an internet boondoggle? Do you find that after hours and hours on the internet, you've forgotten what you were originally supposed to be doing, and then can't get up because your butt's asleep?

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Nope. Me neither! Instead, I work and never pause for food nor drink nor to take a breath of fresh air out in the backyard where the goats are gently lowing. Nay, though I walk through the valley of Google, Yahoo and free downloads of Sports Illustrated bikini models, I follow no link, play no game, search for no high-priced items that are way beyond my budget, nor download a single bite or bit that isn't previously approved by Norton or McAfee.

And having said that, I hope you'll pardon me. I must get back to work. I'm on the internet, you know.


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Tracy Farr lives in East Texas with his wife and three children -- and some goats. He is a member of NSNC, is the columns editor for the site Nights And Weekends, and writes a weekly column which appears in local newspapers and websites.

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