The new Internet menace: Wilfing

If there's one thing that I can't stand, it's cutesy new acronyms tied to questionable studies -- like "wilf," a curiously incomplete abbreviation for "what was I looking for," which refers to the apparently epidemic practice of getting distracted by other websites when you should be using the Internet for, like, work.

(I will confess right now that I am a champion wilfer, having spent five minutes reading only tangentially related sites while researching this post. But then, I was the kid who got distracted by other entries in the encyclopedia while working on school projects.)

According to a survey of 2,412 surfers in the UK, over 2/3 of UK Internet users admit that they surf "without any real purpose" (this and similar phrases were used in several articles, which leads me to believe it came from the study or the subsequent report).

Uh, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that what "browsing" means? And while calculations put the supposedly wasted time at two working days per month, I have to ask: since when has anyone ever had a desk job where they actually work every minute of every hour their paid for?

Of course, none of this would be complete without a quotable expert issuing a dire warning. Lancaster University psych prof Cary Cooper is quoted as saying that wilfing at home could just be procrastinating -- or, ominously, "not wanting to -- or being unable to -- engage with the family."

Come on, people. It's the online equivalent of channel surfing. Get a grip.

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Emru Townsend

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