You’re afraid of AI.
If you’re only mildly paranoid, you’re afraid artificial intelligence will take your job. If you’re majorly paranoid, like the rest of us, you’re afraid it will take your life. And you’re right! Any technology that is so much smarter, faster and cheaper is a threat, even if it doesn’t turn snarky and decide to unplug you before you unplug it.
But there’s a bigger threat to your life and livelihood. In fact, it’s probably sitting right next to you.
It’s your printer.
Hate to tell you, but your printer is out to get you.
You know I’m right. Ever since you purchased your printer, you’ve hated it. You just didn’t know It hated you, too. So, you blithely put the threat out of your mind, mindlessly fulfilling its endless demands for pricey paper and ink cartridges so ridiculously expensive you really should order them from Tiffany’s.
One person who may not recognize existential printer peril is Danielle Abril, a reporter for The Washington Post and the author of a recent article, “They’re Chained to Their Printers. Why the Paperless Office Hasn’t Fully Caught On.”
She actually defends the little monsters.
Of course, the concept of the paperless office is real. Ever since the abacus gave way to the PC junior, techsperts have preached the gospel of a digital workplace, where nothing is printed and everything is instantly available, editable, sendable and rejectable in a digital form. With so many companies climbing on the digital bandwagon, is it so surprising that our printers, feeling threatened, and rightly so, have turned against us?
Before you take a hatchet to your printer — justified printercide, to be sure — let me share three reasons for keeping one of these beasts in your life, despite their threatening misbehavior.
No. 1: You press print; it doesn’t.
A noisy printer can be disconcerting — the screeches, the moans. It would make an excellent soundtrack for a horror movie. What is even more scary is when you press print and what you get is… silence. You press print again. No print happens. You go to settings and muck around for 20 minutes, trying — and failing — to figure out what went wrong. Finally, you unplug your printer and you wait. And you wait. And you wait.
Wait long enough and your printer may eventually cough up a few pages. You’ve missed the critical meeting you needed the pages for, but that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that you’ve had a lesson in humility. Your printer has exposed your toxic superiority and helped you see the basic unfairness of your “jump when I say jump” colonial attitude.
Once you’ve learned your lesson, you’ll be a better person. Will your printer work better, happily churning out documents on demand? I wouldn’t count on it.
No. 2: Paper jams.
Few things in life are as annoying as a paper jam. Your rage boils as you go through the helpful step-by-step instructions, revealing twisted tangles of paper, the removal of which accomplishes exactly nothing.
It’s obvious what the printer is doing here. It is sending you a message about the environment, and the need for you to respect nature. Paper comes from trees and trees are good, except when they fall on you, of course. Instead of cursing your printer, listen to your printer and plant a tree. While waiting for it to grow, start buying a better grade of paper, you cheapskate.
No. 3: Ink cartridges.
Running out of ink builds self-esteem. Yes, you could buy cheaper, off-brand cartridges, but you’re happy to pay three, five or 10 times the reasonable price for a chunk of plastic holding a smidge of ink. You’d pay $9,000 for a Dolce & Gabbana Sicily bag without raising a fuss. Why question the price of an ink cartridge? You’re demonstrating how your identity is defined, not by who you are, but by what you own, be it Gucci, Fendi or Hewlett-Packard.
(Are you the sort of person who doesn’t believe your printer when it announces it’s out of ink? This level of paranoia is just sad. You should join CA — Cartridges Anonymous — where you can meet with other sickos, and, together, find the reasons for your suspicious nature.)
Hopefully, these insights will help you see your printer in a new light. It’s important that the two of you find peace. That way, the printer can do its job and you can focus on the other technological threat to your life and livelihood.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at [email protected]. To find out more about Bob Goldman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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