by Lloyd Wells
Apparently, smashing up your office printer as a way to release stress and tension is now a thing. Since we all suffer from excessive anger, brought on by the chaos of our lives – traffic hold-ups, office tensions, relationship problems and so on – we should go right ahead and take a baseball bat to office equipment because it’ll help us feel better.
Bear with me.
Anger’s a perfectly reasonable emotion, the gurus tell us, so rather than keeping it bottled up, we should smash the living daylights out of old household items like printers, televisions, toasters, fridges and even washing machines, in order to restore our inner calm.
Let’s put this into perspective.
I suppose in a world that permits tennis players to grunt and scream to their heart’s content, where spectators can shout ‘get in the hole!’ at golf tournaments without being thrown out of the club, where parents allow their children to run amok in shops and restaurants but won’t allow their school teachers to tell them off, and where people are seriously considering the rules of sports games to that no-one loses, I suppose encouraging wanton destruction of innocent office machinery in the name of anger management is just the next logical step.
Whatever happened to taking a few deep breaths to calm down? To teach methods and techniques to keep anger in check? Too much to ask??
Now, I’m not an unreasonable guy, I’ve sometimes been known to curse and swear at my printer when she jams or malfunctions and I’m running late for a meeting. But I’d like to think that I can control myself sufficiently so as not to inflict terminal equipment damage.
However, there seem to be plenty of people who would disagree with me. Perhaps they’ve watched the slow-motion scene of the 1999 cult classic movie Office Space – where three office workers brutally destroy their malfunctioning printer with baseball bats – too many times?
A recent Wall Street Journal article on this printer bashing trend stated that they’d done extensive research to reveal that an average of 10 good whacks is all it takes to demolish a printer.
And in an article I read just the other day, readers are informed that because of rising stress levels at work, many companies are now investigating new and less harmful ways to help employees manage their anger. This kind of ‘let it all out’ anger management facilitation is gaining in popularity and there are now places knows as ‘Rage Rooms’ where people can pay for a smashing session! One rage room provider goes through more than 15 printers a week, saving their biggest and juiciest machines for corporate smash parties! Apparently, printers inspire more hate and loathing than any other machine.
So, is this expressive and explosive kind of anger management a good idea? Does smashing an inanimate object make people better at handling stress in a healthy way? Is it working? Sigmund Freud certainly thought so. He and his contemporaries believed that punching objects was a good way for patients to rid themselves of anger, and that they could then deal with the underlying issues causing the feelings in the first place.
Today, our knowledge of anger management and how to deal with it in the workplace has become somewhat more sophisticated – dare I say enlightened?
Concepts like mindfulness and meditation help people experience emotions including anger, sadness or jealousy and deal with them in a detached and calm way. The more detached we become from harmful emotions like anger, the more we’re able to reduce its impact on our lives, and on the lives of our loved ones. That’s a bit more like it!
And just to prove my case, scientific evidence suggests that venting anger makes things worse, not better. People who regularly express anger, even in controlled situations like a Rage Room, are more likely to suffer from heart disease. Letting out our anger actually increases our aggression towards others. Even when people feel better as a result of smashing something, they’re still more likely to be aggressive towards others. I rest my case.
Just one final thought on the issue. If your company’s printers are forever jamming and malfunctioning, making you as mad as a rattlesnake, don’t look for a hammer to smash them, rather get on the phone and outsource your print management.
Problem solved, by Lloyd Wells – a freelance writer in the tech world, working with the PBS Group to avoid the Rage Room and remain mindful.