According to John Williams, CEO and president of Domtar (self-billing as "The Sustainable Paper Company,") the major problem with kids today isn't drinking, sex, bad manners, or the rampant use of txtspeak—it's their printing habits. More accurately, it's their lack
of printing habits, which Domtar blames on those darn tree-loving eco hippies and their crazy propaganda. According to Williams, anti-printing claims or concerns about the environment are "just bull," and there's no need to "think before you print."
Take that hippies!
"There is an appropriate use for paper. You should feel comfortable to use it appropriately and you shouldn’t be feeling there is some environmental negative when you use it," Mr. Williams said at a conference on Monday. The Domtar CEO is targeting Facebook and YouTube users in an attempt to reach more young people. "Young people really are not printers," Domtar said. "When was the last time your children demanded a printer? They want the electronic device."
We dug around on Domtar's website for more information on the PR campaign and instead found the latest issue of "Paper Matters
," the company's trade publication. Williams' comments were actually drawn from a piece written by Lewis Fix, the VP of brand management and sustainable development. Based on his article, Fix has something of a love affair with paper and he's all-too-willing to share it.
People love paper because it "connects them to the important things in life." Material printed on paper is more "meaningful and lasting." It's also responsible for the existence of every good thing ever. Fix writes:
Great ideas are started on paper. The world is educated on paper. Businesses are founded on paper. Love is declared on paper. Important news is spread on paper. Justice is rendered on paper. Rights are guaranteed on paper. Freedoms are declared on paper." Confusing Medium And Message:
Williams' remarks and faux indignation could win the company an award for "Most Obvious Display of Corporate Greed Masqueraded As A Public Virtue," but Fix's comments indicate a fundamental confusion between a message and the medium used to convey it. As mediums go, paper has had a long run and a good life, but you don't need paper to guarantee rights—you can actually do it on stage, interspersed with pithy song and dance numbers.
We at Hot Hardware like books and use paper, but you don't need to be a conservationist to see how the stuff is outdated. You can't search an index of 50,000 paper documents in seconds from a thousand miles away, you can't distribute printed material to a dozen people scattered across the globe in an instant, and you can't collaborate with someone on a real time project using two identical sheets of paper. Paper rots, mildews, molds, burns, fades, and is occasionally peed on by the dog. The only way to preserve printed documents in pristine condition for any period of time is to seal them inside enclosures filled with inert gas and carefully control the ambient light.
We submit to the fine folk at Domtar that great ideas, education, justice, rights, and freedoms all spring from the mind. Paper is the messenger, not the message. And Mr. Williams, with all due respect, a printer is one of the worst presents one person can give to another. In the world of computing hardware and electronic gadgetry, giving your significant other a printer is akin to presenting them with a vacuum, "Cooking For Dummies," and a coupon for Weight Watchers simultaneously. In many civilizations, the gift of a cheap printer is a veiled insult unless it's accompanied by several dozen ink cartridges.
They offered him a printer. He liked the bike more.
The reason kids don't ask for printers is because, on the Universal Scale Of Awesome Presents, printers rank between "Dead Hamster" and "Pet Rock." And if you're one of the six people who either really
wanted a printer instead of a Nintendo growing up, we feel sorry for you. Please seek counseling.