I work in an office that is often technologically backwards. I am surrounded by inept tree murderers who do not seem to fully grasp the function of a computer monitor as an endless and endlessly diverse piece of paper (at its most basic level). I am chastised for suggesting that a digital file might be in some way superior to its physical counterpart, as if photocopying a hundred receipts in triplicate is somehow a superior record-keeping model to scanning and thereby immortalizing said receipts. My suggestions to slowly but surely put us on track to being members of the present (not the future, which is where Little Mole Boss seems to think computers are from) are met with a “just get it done” attitude, as if involving technology will keep a job from getting done.
Little Mole Boss has been asking me to make changes to a PowerPoint presentation recently, and with every iteration finds something new to change. Today I completed what might be the last changes to this file, and was promptly asked to print it out so Little Mole Boss could “check [it] one more time.” My knee-jerk response was to ask if her monitor was broken, but this would have been met with some variation of same response I get from other coworkers:
1) “I just like having the paper in front of me.” Translation: I don’t have a good reason, only a personal preference I developed in a time when we didn’t have computers.
2) “I’m used to having a paper copy.” Translation: I’ve used the same method to deal with this issue for decades, and am unwilling/too lazy to form new, more efficient habits that utilize the current technological leaps that the vast majority of modern offices embraced years ago.
3) “It’s a generational thing, you wouldn’t understand.” Translation: My life experience forms a vast ocean of mysterious superiority that covers all topics (including those about which you have superior knowledge), and would be disrespectful for you to question, youngling.
Needless to say, the above answers are complete horseshit, but that doesn’t stop my coworkers from clinging to them. So imagine my frustration when, just the other day, I had the following conversation with a coworker (let’s call her Hollywood Coworker, since she’s so impressed by celebrities and movies and TV and all the vapid nonsense that comes tumbling out of her flatscreen) who asked me to print out a few copies of a PowerPoint presentation to be passed out at a meeting between just two people.
Me: The fact is, we should never be printing out PowerPoint files when we can just email them to each other and look at them on a screen.
Hollywood Coworker: [shakes head] Well, when I was doing presentations to clients, they liked to have a copy in front of them.
But we’re not selling anything, right? If this is just for a one-on-one meeting with a coworker we could just show it on a laptop screen. Or, if they have to have a hard copy of the info, don’t use PowerPoint at all. Just put the info into a Word doc and print that so we’re not wasting paper.
Look, I’m just saying this from my experience, but back in the day, when you presented a PowerPoint, everyone needed a handout.
But this won’t be a large meeting. If it’s just information exchange, there’s no need to do a PPt at all. That’s where we could just put the info into a Word doc to keep it compact and simple, and just go through it together. If we’re not presenting anything, why use PPt? If all we need to do is print out information, PPt is not the system we should be using.
[rolls eyes] It’s interesting to hear your perspective.
[sighs] Here’s the main issue: When technology stops making things easier, we should stop using that technology. PPt is making this harder, not easier, so we should stop using it, and use something else.
The conversation ended without us coming to a consensus, though I did not print out the PowerPoint presentation then or since. This is a point of contention between Hollywood Coworker and me that arises occasionally and that I find myself dreading. We would get along a lot more smoothly if we could just find some middle ground on this issue, but our pattern is: she digs her heels in while I try to drag her forward. It’s a dance we will do until she has killed every tree on the North American continent, or I stop working at Office Job. Whichever comes first.
So now I go to work and feel like I’m trapped in a time warp. I’ve started to do what I do with all things that make me crazy: I’ve made this into a game. I pretend that I’ve traveled into the past where no one knows what a computer is, and I get to explain what this amazing new technology is capable of and watch all the primitive natives freak out and get mad at me for showing them something new and amazing (read: scary).