“Office Space,” was a 1999 satirical comedy film based on the dark wish fulfillment of three miserable workers in a typical dreary software company of the 1990s, written and directed by Mike Judge.
When the characters find out they are on the list to be laid off, they plot revenge — a plan to rob their company of a fraction of a cent on every transaction (exactly the same plan as in Superman II). It all goes wrong, of course, but before then, one of the most memorable scenes in cinematic history unfolds when they steal the hated printer that never worked right and drove everybody crazy. They carry it into a deserted field and beat it to pieces with sledgehammers and baseball bats in a symbolic gang hit of the printer, which stands for everything bad about about their jobs.
That sort of hands-on “rage against the machine,” which started way back in 2016, has grown into an entire industry, The Washington Post reported. From coast-to-coast, all across America, customers can pay from a few dozen bucks to hundreds of dollars to go into “smash rooms” and lay waste to dishes, chairs, and yes, printers,” according to the Post.
But it turns out it’s not such a good idea to smash up printers. The “metals, gases and batteries” emit noxious fumes that can damage the human body. Some municipalities have banned the wanton destruction of various electronics,” The Post reported.
And Psychology Today reported as early as 2017, trying to release stress and anger by smashing stuff may release toxic thoughts as well as toxic gases. It can establish a positive relationship between aggression as an outlet for anger. Rather than release anger, violence reinforces it.
Research led by psychologist Kinga Szymaniak of the University of New South Wales indicated that there is a direct correlation between anger and individuals who believe in conspiracy theories.
Why? Another study found that people who are angry tend to have generally positive attitudes toward anger, said Psychology Today in June 2023.
The businesses that offer “rage rooms” are trying to come up with viable substitutes to pulverize instead of electronics — although that’s what most people with a hammer in their hands seem to prefer. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control said that rage rooms are not illegal, but smashing “e-waste” is, the Post reported.
Smash-room managers can lessen the personal risk to themselves and customers by removing motherboards and batteries before the smashing begins, or by asking consumers to avoid smashing the recyclable chunks of cars or computers.
Larry Franklin, co-owner of Lose It Rage Room in Woodbridge, Va., told the Post his company always strips electronics of their motherboards, batteries and other hazardous parts before releasing them for demolition. He said he doesn’t know of any such rules in his area, but he said if any are ever enacted he believes his company will be in compliance.
He also believes customers can enjoy smashing other things besides electronics.
“It doesn’t really matter as long as they have something to go at,” Franklin said to the Post “They want to yell, scream and cry. That’s pretty much the gist of it.”
But the bigger problem, Waterhouse said, is that electronics companies purposely design products that break or fall out of fashion. Then those products pile up in landfills — or smash rooms.
“We need a new model for reusing or refurbishing our end-of-life printers,” Waterhouse said. ”And if that happens, we also might need a new target for our aggression.”
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