How destroying printers can help anger management

How destroying printers can help anger management

Printerinks discuss how destroying printers can help anger management.

We’re sorry to say that a printer is rarely the most beloved device in a home or office. In fact, it’s often the most hated. Although the situation has improved dramatically in the last decade, printers are traditionally perceived as loud, expensive, complicated, and – worst of all – prone to malfunction exactly at the moment when you most need them to work. Running late for a meeting? Printer jam. Need to get that boarding pass in a hurry? Out of ink.

So it’s no surprise that, when looking for something t to take out one’s work-related stress upon, the office printer is the most fantasised about object. This unhappy fantasy was made real in the 1999 cult classic movie Office Space. In a famous slow motion scene, three office workers brutally destroy their malfunctioning printer using baseball bats. Tough viewing for anyone who happens to rather like printers!

Today, with work stress levels on the rise, organisations are searching for new ways to help employees manage their anger in less harmless and more helpful ways. And, thanks to a big change in how offices use printers (many now use much less paper, and most have upgraded to much higher functioning devices), there’s a vast number of ‘old school’ printers going spare. The result? A growing trend in violent printer destruction, all in the name of anger management.

The Wall Street Journal has recently reported on this printer-bashing trend. According to their extensive research, it takes “at least 10 good whacks to really get the best of a printer”.

The provision of this kind of ‘let it out’ anger management facilities is seeing widespread growth – they’re most commonly known as ‘Rage Rooms’. For example, at “Battle Sports in Toronto, rates begin at $45 Canadian for a 45-minute smashing session that includes a printer. The year-old company goes through at least 15 printers a week, and saves the biggest machines it can scavenge for corporate parties.”

Although other items are offered for destruction (including plates and furniture), printers are often the most requested object in these kinds of situations. But why? According to Bob Brennan – a CEO who has been fixing printers and other technical devices for decades – printers inspire such loathing because they’re usually the last stop for a report or presentation: “When people want to be finished and it feels like the machine is just broken and mocking them, it bears the brunt of all their frustrations”.

But is this kind of explosive and expressive anger management actually a good idea? Does beating up inanimate objects make us more or less likely to handle our stress in a healthy way? This particular line of thinking is known as the ‘pressure cooker model’ and was favoured by Freud and his contemporaries. According to them, a prescription of punching up objects was a good way for patients to get the anger out of their system, freeing them up to deal with the issues causing the feelings in the first place.

Today, this theory of anger management is challenged by concepts like meditation and mindfulness, which try to help people experience emotions (such as anger, sadness or jealousy), without becoming ruled by them. In other words, although we might feel rage towards a faulty printer, we’d be able to vent that emotion by simply ‘feeling’ it, rather than feeling forced to take action as a result of it. The more detached we are able to become from this harmful emotion, the more able we are to reduce its impact on our lives, and on the lives of those close to us.

Moreover, according to this article on Psychology Today, scientific evidence suggests that venting anger actually only makes things worse. People who regularly express their anger – even in controlled situations like the Rage Rooms described above, or during exercise or team games – are more likely to suffer from heart disease. What’s more, ‘letting our anger out’ has a secondary negative in that it actually increases our aggression towards others. Even when people believe in the catharsis of ‘letting off steam’, and even when they actively feel better as a result of it, they are still more likely to be aggressive towards others. Perhaps it makes sense to think of it like a muscle that we exercise – the more we ‘practice’ expressing our anger, the stronger our urge to do so in the future.

Either way, perhaps the bigger question is why we’re all getting so angry in the first place. What is it about our lifestyles that makes Rage Rooms a booming business, and printers such a target for physical aggression?

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