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    Nestor Ramos

    Cyber Monday: A fake holiday that’s a real distraction

    Ryan Huddle/Globe staff

    After four days of eating and sleeping and footballing, I was ready to knuckle down on Monday.

    Journalism! Truth to power! Afflict the comfortable!

    But it was also Cyber Monday, so I figured I’d just do a quick search of my various shopping deal websites before jumping on the Red Line. And this is how you end up adding a $185 kitchen appliance to your shopping cart from your own bathroom.


    Cyber Monday has come a long way since the fake holiday was founded on the outdated twin pillars of fast workplace internet service and sales tax avoidance. Now, of course, we can “surf the ’net” just fine from the comfort of our toilets, and major online retailers often do collect sales tax in many states.

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    So why does the editor sitting behind me have four browser tabs worth of shopping sites open right now?

    Not me, no sir.

    OK, it’s true that I spent a 20-minute delay on the Red Line scrolling endlessly through the app on my phone. A Wirecutter deal on a refurbished Amazon Tap ($60) seemed like a bargain until I realized it was some sort of bluetooth speaker and not a portable beer dispenser. (This discovery obviated any need for a discounted BACtrack S80 breathalyzer at 19 percent off.)

    I did end up pulling the trigger on that kitchen appliance — a gift, I swear — thanks to Target’s Cyber Monday 15 percent off and free shipping offer.


    But at work? I will not become one of these productivity leeches who . . . wait hang on now — my Wi-Fi has been a little spotty at home and this Netgear router that just popped up in my deal alerts is $100 off the list price at Amazon after adding a secret coupon! It inexplicably looks like a giant robot spider, so you know it’s good. And at that price I’d be ripping myself off if I didn’t buy it. I’ll just do a little quick research on router technology, which I’m sure is not at all confusing, and then it’s back to work.

    (Noon approaches; eyes begin to twitch; SU-MIMO or MU-MIMO/tri-band/mesh network/please send help!)

    . . . Hold on, what were we talking about?

    Oh right. Cyber Monday, which now stretches either the entire week or a full 365 days, depending on how you look at it. Lost productivity calculations always seem fairly dubious. But even if you don’t buy the figures in the hundreds of millions of dollars that get thrown around, there’s no doubt people are spending a good part of Monday hunting for bargains.

    Retailers now lean into this dynamic. An alert on my phone from “Shop Your Way” at about 10 a.m. began “BORING WORK STUFF (OK, we fooled your boss...).” If you use Gmail, take a quick peek at the “Promotions” tab in your inbox. Between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., I got about 20 Cyber Monday promotions from every company I’ve ever done business with and many I hadn’t.


    Human resources professionals offer tips on how to keep your employees on task on Cyber Monday up to and including actually shutting down access to Amazon and the like.

    But this would likely not be as effective as it once was, since so many people are armed with smartphones and data service — unless and until your manager starts kicking in bathroom stall doors until she finds you furiously typing a discount code into a checkout screen.

    Some employers just go with it: A little shopping from time to time isn’t the end of the world, and letting employees do what they want — within reason — is good for morale and, by extension productivity.

    Some of us are above all that anyw— whoa just a second. Those Philips Hue lightbulbs that change color are 30 percent off? They seem like they’d make a great gift.

    And what about $45 off one of those Instant Pot things that everybody is talking about? Maybe I’ll just take a few minutes and figure out what they are.

    Then, it’s back to work. I promise.

    Nestor Ramos can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @NestorARamos.