Simple Living/Downshifting

Simpler Technology

In keeping with this weeks’ theme of simplicity…

Our office copier is a state-of-the-art scanner/printer/copy machine/sorter all rolled into one. It’s got multiple settings for different print types, the ability to scan and send files to any computer on our network, and it can print in many, many different colors with high-quality finish. It probably cost over $2,500 and has so many different functions that we haven’t even discovered them all.

It is also a worthless piece of junk.

Today it broke down for the 7th time this week. Not year. Not month. WEEK. You read it right. Our repair guy is at a loss for words. It’s had so many paper jams, shut-downs and freeze-ups that I have lost count. I discovered the trouble we were having with it early on, so I decided to always print to the old, trusty single-purpose printer on my desk, rather than this newfangled pile of trash with all the bells and whistles in the main office. My co-workers think I am crazy to say that my printer is better, but I’m not the one who has to walk into the other room every time I print something just to make sure the job goes through.

When are people going to learn that more complicated is not always better? It’s nice to have a scanner, but is it really necessary to have a $2,500 scanner? I really believe that the more functions, buttons and options a piece of technology has, the more likely it is to break down. In the late 80’s printers came out just for the function of printing. They had their purpose, and they did their job. Even though the quality wasn’t as good, they were simpler and reliable.

My office should have just purchased a cheaper scanner and kept their old printers which work totally fine. But my employers, like seemingly everyone in the corporate world, needed to have the best thing on the market. I’ve gotten to know the repair guy well. He agrees with me, AND he works for the company that put this monstrosity out onto the market!

The Moral of the Story

There is a lesson in all this. If we introduce too many new complications, it may just turn aspects of our lives into a malfunctioning machine whose parts individually are great but don’t mesh well together. If someone owns a home, two cars, a yacht and pays $80 per month for DSL service they are actually restricting other functions in their life (like hobbies and free time) because of having to upkeep all these other things. We may have to work a greater number of hours to pay for everything, and then our quality of life decreases.

We also forget about the value in something that worked perfectly well (like a dependable family car that is fully-paid off) because we want something better. In our endless quest for improvement and upgrades we can become lost rather quickly.

So before you introduce a newfangled pile-of-buttons printer into your life, make sure that old one is truly broken, and make sure that your improvement is really an improvement.



  • Scott Jackson October 29, 2007 at 6:35 am

    We used an 80’s printer for about 15 years, never had any problems. Just got a new one because they are so ridiculously cheap. And we wanted to have color.


  • Mike October 30, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    I loved those old-school 80’s printers. You pretty much just had to plug them in, install the file and they worked really well. The early apple color ones worked the best (even though the color was pretty bad!)


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