It’s not exactly surprising to hear that the geeks over at the National Science Foundation are porn-addicted weirdos who can’t leave off jerking for long enough to get in a full work day. But the scale of their at-work porn viewing is surprising, nevertheless, not to mention creepy, given that most of my childhood PBS viewing was sponsored in part by them (if my memory of PBS ‘un-commercials’ serves me right), as was the research just published on our new oldest ancestor, Ardipithecus.

According to budget documents obtained and reported on by the Washington Times, the NSF spent most of its internal regulatory budget on investigating and prosecuting employees for inappropriate use of work computers last year in a six fold increase over the year before. Not including pending cases, seven cases on porn viewing at work were closed last year at the foundation.

I don’t know how many people work over there at the NSF, but that seems like a pretty high number. Particularly given that we’re talking about cases so intense that they had to be investigated and prosecuted. These aren’t the occasional instances of clicking on the wrong link or opening an e-mail you should have saved for home — these are recurring, frequent, and offensive enough incidents to be treated like internal criminal cases. For god’s sake, one of the company’s senior executives was caught not just looking at porn, but carrying on in-depth conversations with nude or scantily clad women in other countries at his work computer for 331 days before being caught, then feebly explained that his degeneracy was actually a form of humanitarian action, since he was providing income to poor women overseas. The executive has since stepped down. Another, lower-level, employee was given only a ten-day suspension after hundreds of porn sites were discovered to have been visited on his work computer over a mere three-week period.
What’s going on here? We understand that reading and assessing grant requests for things like neurobiological research could get a little boring, but we just can’t imagine any job that’s so bad that one would be bored enough to actively peruse pornography at work where it’s strictly prohibited and the chances of getting caught are so high. But this porn problem is not unique to the NSF, nor is it anything new.

People have been getting in trouble with employers for years, often fired and even convicted of felonies for viewing porn at work. In October of this year, a Huntington, Indiana police officer was suspended after having been found watching porn at work. As quoted in a recent CNBC article, one-third of workers polled have admitted to looking at porn at work and two-thirds of human resources officials polled have found porn on a worker’s computer. At least half of all Fortune 500 companies have dealt with an employee viewing porn at work, and a full 70% of all tracked views of pornographic websites happen during the 9am to 5pm work day.

But, for all the apparent normal-ness of viewing porn at work, it’s apparently more dangerous to one’s career and livelihood than various types of drug trafficking. This spring, an Ohio man who’d (admittedly very stupidly, compulsively, and over-enthusiastically) been sending nude pictures of himself from his work computer (703, to be exact) and chatting with a dominatrix online was convicted of felony-level hacking and sentenced to fifteen months. What the hell is going on here? Is looking at porn really that big of a deal? So big that people can’t seem to stop themselves from doing it at work? Or so big that it requires felony convictions?

According to the Daytona Daily News, a full six percent of Internet users become porn addicts and Chris Tuell, a professor of addiction studies at the University of Cincinnati, calls internet porn addiction “a silent epidemic.”

While we at WHACK! usually prefer to scoff at sweeping generalizations about sex addiction and perversion, pointing instead to the fact that sex is awesome, porn is sex on film, and we’re all degenerates deep down inside, we have to admit that this time maybe the scientists and pundits wailing about sex addiction has some basis in reality. After all, your cubicle should obviously be the one place where you should not view porn, regardless of any outdated systems of morality we’d normally try to shout down. But, really, not wanking at work just makes sense. It company time and the money they’re paying you to not be wanking (unless of course you’re me, in which case it is your job… suckers!). Furthermore, it’s stupid—if you’re rubbing one out at your cubicle, it’s very likely you’re going to be caught white handed with your pants down by a superior or even worse – your work crush. It’s just a bad idea. Only sex addicts have a real excuse (kind of) for continuing with this kind of self-destructive behavior despite all the logic saying it’s a terrible idea. But sex addiction — or addiction of any kind for that matter — is often recognizable by the addict’s inability to stray from the addictive action and if continuing to view porn at work despite the obvious incentives not to is any indication, we might have a serious national addiction on our hands.

As far as addictions go, it’s arguably the safest. The very things that make internet porn attractive — its privacy, inexpensiveness, and easy accessibility — are the things that make it easy to keep going back, even when you know you shouldn’t. Once it’s become a habit, you probably won’t end up broke, sick, or homeless because of it. You won’t be running around on out-of-control benders like a meth addict or turning tricks to get more of it like a heroin junkie. Nobody has to know unless you’re careless. And watching porn does give the body a natural high. It’s a much more private and easily satisfied addiction, as well — no need to make contacts with shady drug dealers. It’s not illegal. It doesn’t drain your health. Hell, it’s maybe the best possible addiction you could have!

All kidding aside, it’s still an addiction. And despite all the mind-blowing orgasms it could give you, no addiction is a harmless one. Sex addiction in all its forms can hurt relationships, both sexual and otherwise; if the addiction goes too far, it sure as hell will hurt your work performance if you’re too busy stroking to answer the phone. And hey pervs, remember: the economy isn’t so hot right now. Getting fired for a smut fixation is not an easily-forgotten offense. Put a damn filter on your computer, keep it in your pants, and wait till you get home. — Miss Lagsalot

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