Funny stuff, but Jeffrey did give you some good information.
It sounds like you were doing something strange, like zooming in to a shot at 1000% or something. I'm looking at a shot that in Lightroom is zoomed in at 11:1 and it has a whole bunch of little squares (pixels) but that's not, as far as I know, what is referred to as pixel peeping. Zooming in at a very large magnification such as this is typically for very fine pixel editing, like maybe refining a selection in Photoshop with a lot of fine detail. Outside of that it's pretty useless because it tells you nothing about the image.
What is normally referred to as "pixel peeping" happens when you view an image at 100% (in Lightroom) or Actual Pixels in Photoshop, or whatever term your software uses to map image pixels 1:1 with your monitor display pixels.
The most common reasons for doing this are:
- To evaluate critical detail in an image
- To evaluate noise in an image
- To apply sharpening and noise reduction and see the actual results on the image without compression
- To evaluate a lens for sharpness across the range of apertures and focal lengths
- To evaluate a camera for noise characteristics
- To evaluate a camera for lens/sensor performance in resolving fine detail
- To assess how appropriate an image will be for a large print, a high quality publication, a close crop, or a stock agency
As you have seen in the responses to your question, "pixel peeping" has a bad rep among people who don't want or need to pay that kind of close attention to the details of the image -- in fact, for many of my shots I don't bother because I'm not looking for that kind of critical quality but more of just the overall shot.
But, when I am looking for the highest quality, for example, to capture images that I can print large or crop close and print, I take care in both my shooting and my processing to maximize sharpness and minimize noise, and I "pixel peep" each of my shots to evaluate and choose the ones that will stand up to close scrutiny.