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August 27, 2008 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Screen Peekers

Years ago in an office near DC, a lady on my team was running a wedding-planning business from her work computer.  Subtle, no?  Everyone knew it.  When walking by her office, people would pull a quick Screen Peek to see if there was actually anything work-related going on there…instead there were things like cakes, and satiny crap. 

At my previous job in Colorado, there was a dude who often looked at full-on porn from 2PM to 4PM with his office door wide open.  I guess he must have wanted to get fired.  Once you knew, you couldn’t help but pull a Screen Peek when you walked by his office, because you never knew what wonders of the human anatomy (or sometimes, cartoons) you might see.  And once you saw, you were usually sorry that you ever Screen Peeked into his office.  Yeah, he’s not there anymore.

You can tell when someone is on the Internet at work, because when you approach you’ll hear the familiar, quick mouse click that is the browser closing.  The eye is usually quicker than the hand, though…so if you are a practiced Screen Peeker you can at least discern whether or not it was a forum/news site/blog/Facebook before you look at your shoes and pretend you have no idea what they were doing, you were staring at the opposite wall the whole time. 

It’s impossible to work in an office or other technological-equipment-heavy setting without having to deal with Screen Peekers.  And chances are, you have been a Screen Peeker too.  Call it the moth-to-the-flame phenomenon, but as humans we swing our necks to the source of bright lights. 

That’s why when I am writing (a very personal endeavor) I set up my laptop with my back to a corner.  I cannot have Screen Peekers around when I am writing.  (No, I never write when I am at work…I have to beware of Screen Peekers at my house.)  Last night I was trying to write a potentially controversial blog post when I was interrupted by a serious Screen Peeker.  I was researching various quotes and I was not in the  mood to explain what I was trying to say.  My first mistake was closing the screen.  The Screen Peeker was instantly curious.  What was I up to? 

Well I had an online dictionary open…scandalous!  But the Screen Peeker was now fully intrigued by the closing of the screen.  Now I closed the entire laptop.  Screen Peeker insisted that I open it.  I explained that there was an online dictionary open as well as my blog.  Facebook may have been open too, I don’t know.  I am NOT one to “share everything” and my writing in progress is definitely NOT SHAREABLE.  So I kept the laptop closed.  This led to a supersized argument with Screen Peeker. 

Everything is fine now, but was I right to keep my dictionary closed?  If I would have kept it open, then I would have gotten Twenty Questions of Curiosity.  “Why are you writing about that.  What?  Huh?  Et cetera.”  I knew that once talking about my work-in-progress was over, I would no longer feel like writing about it.  Of course, I still don’t feel like writing about it. 

Silly, meddling Screen Peekers.  I really try not to Screen Peek at people.  But until we have computer screens implanted into our retinas, Screen Peekage will be a fact of life.



Leave a Comment
  1. Christine / Aug 31 2008 6:13 pm

    Yeah there’s just something about that feeling of “guilt” and being expected to explain yourself that makes me extremely hostile. (at home of course)

  2. bluesuit12 / Aug 29 2008 7:28 am

    I guess I kind of luck out in that my job allows plenty of time to surf the internet while still completing all of my work. Once I put the slides/negatives into the attachments the machines take over leaving me surfing time. It doesn’t matter who sees me really because they all know the machines are doing the work. But I’m the only one in my lab that’s able to do this. Everyone else has to be using specific programs that require full attention so it annoys me when I’m waiting on another area to complete a task only to go out to their desk and see them sufing the internet instead of doing their work. But as long as the work gets done I say surf away!

  3. maleesha / Aug 29 2008 6:50 am

    Oh man, thanks you guys! I am going to address this after work today. First I need to work on my acceptance speech. Obama is a big act to follow~!

  4. crisitunity / Aug 29 2008 6:27 am

    I nominated you for the same blog award as Dead Charming. I don’t think this means you have to name 14 bloggers…

  5. morethananelectrician / Aug 28 2008 7:11 pm

    I was able to design our office space and all of them have built in desks. I designed each and every work station to have each person facing the door. When you walk in teh office you see the back side of the monitor.

    I am sure there is quite a bit of not-work going on, but we have very specific tasks and deadlines and as long as the get done…all is well. I am also the office IT person and can see who is doing what and when they are doing it.

    Agreed! I think ‘net is fine for whatever (okay mebbe not porn) as long as the work gets done.

  6. Dead Charming / Aug 28 2008 7:09 pm

    First off, I live and die by the screen peek, so I feel your pain.

    Second, I’ve given you an award at my blog (and now I’ve notified you as “the rules” dictate).


    Holy crap! Thanks! Is it chocolate?

  7. Scomerican Girl / Aug 28 2008 11:38 am

    And here I was thinking I was being all sneaky because nobody could see my screen! The quick click minimize is definitely a habit of mine. I swear, one of these days they’re going to fire me because of the lack of work I do.

    We all have those days…at least I did at my last job. This one keeps me genuinely busy!

  8. curlywurlygurly / Aug 28 2008 6:44 am

    in my office, my computer is strategically placed–there is no screen peeking.

    at my old job, i had a monitor shield that hid what was on my screen. i had a high-traffic area cube and spent lots of time doing things i shouldn’t have. my boss(friend) and i ordered them through our office supply place. they weren’t cheap but sure came in handy!

  9. crisitunity / Aug 28 2008 6:13 am

    Weirdly, I had planned to discuss a bout of screen peekage that I indulged in at class last night in a blog post today. Stay tuned! 🙂

  10. Allison / Aug 28 2008 3:44 am

    I have been a screen peeker, and experienced screen peekage. It is definitely more common in settings where the screen is facing a cubicle path or doorway (like mine currently is). I know that my cubicle neighbor is obsessed with motorcycles and google earth. He probably knows that I do a couple of wordpress checks a day (very brief, I promise). I’ve also noticed that, amongst accountants, quick typing indicates long, personal emails because accountants don’t usually have a real reason to type quickly.

    I’m very intruigued about your home sneak peek situation. I’m guessing I’ll read a post with an interesting word from some day and I’ll (hopefully) make the connection.

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