You WILL surf the Internet

In this economy, we’re all looking for economical alternatives to doing everything, including having fun. I’ve found one of the most inexpensive – so cheap it’s generally free – fun activities is to read the comments at the bottom of news stories. Some of them are pretty insightful. Others make you shudder and wonder about the state of education, considering the problems with spelling and grammar, not to mention the lack of logic. But the thing that I find both amusing and amazing is the commenters who get into fights with each other.

You know what I’m talking about. “Disgusted” slams someone quoted in a story. A few minutes later, “Voice of the People” responds. “VOP” wants to defend the person being quoted but can’t resist taking a swat at “Disgusted.” Sure enough, “Disgusted” comes back with a swipe at “VOP.” And so it goes, message after message after message, two strangers banging away at keyboards fighting over everything from politics to tuna casserole recipes, all in the public glare of the Internet.

I always wonder two things – Do these people have no lives? And do these people have no jobs, or is this what they’re doing instead of working?

Sadly, I think many of them ARE working. Well, at least they’re at work. And they aren’t the only ones surfing the ’Net during regular business hours. Walk around pod city sometime and glance at your co-workers’ monitors. I bet it’s the rare person who’s quick enough to hit the right button that makes it appear she’s actually doing work. This is one of the reasons many companies have rules about the proper use of company computers and filters that outright prevent employees from accessing the Internet.

But not so fast.

A report from London says employers might want to rethink these bans. In fact, they might even want to ENCOURAGE employees to play a little on the Internet, or at least on Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites during business hours. Especially in the current economy.

Why? Well, networking is always good. And it’s hard, if not downright impossible, to separate business networking from social networking. So the goal should be to find ways to turn your employees’ Internet usage to your advantage.

Sadly, the article doesn’t provide any concrete way to do that. But if someone figures it out and actually makes social networking a part of the job, I bet there will be unexpected fallout. I think that would stop much of the goofing off that’s now going on. You see, being ordered to surf the Web sounds too much like work.