cafe mama

entering the mind of the married mom

How the fax makes you dumb - July 12, 2004

I work in a very small office building, all three floors of which probably would fit into the atrium of the World Financial Center in New York, just one of the gigantic buildings where I've worked in my lifetime. There are restaurants and shops in my building. There are a dozen or more businesses on my floor, all small - a psychiatrist's office, a couple of real estate developers, a photographer, an orthodpedic office.

And, evidently, all completely living in 1980. I wanted to reserve the imposing-looking conference room down the hall from me, next to the bathrooms, where I visit several times daily. I emailed one of the people who works in the management office, just past the bathrooms, asking how to reserve it.

A few minutes later I get a phone call, from a different person. She explains the process. I call her to find out if the room is available when I want to use it (it is). She faxes me a form. I fax it back to her. Then the room is mine and I pick the key up before my meeting.

Wait, did you say "fax"? I can understand the form might be difficult to fill out via email, I'm sure the rest of the office occupants aren't so handy with cutting and pasting as me. But her office is a whopping 30-second walk away from mine. It would take longer, way longer, to sit by the fax machine while it dials and transmits. And then I have to remove staples with my fingers. And translate strange from wavy fax language into English. Etc.

So, does this endless reliance on the fax machine, despite our existence in the 21st century and the constant reminders that we're not getting enough exercise, make us dumb? Unable to figure out how to just email what time and date we need to use the conference room? Or does it just make us fat?