Those of you in the business world will have seen this. Those of you more fortunate may not have. But you need to know that it’s happening. It starts when you receive an email. After you read the email, you notice in the footer some kind of green icon or an attention-grabbing graphic. There is a change of font or color meant to draw your eye. These effects frame the following gentle suggestion: “Please consider the environment before printing this email.”
There are some parts of modern life that make you sit back and question how we’ve come to where we are. I still can’t read those words without stepping back for a few moments of confused pondering. I wonder: who first thought of this? What kind of person thinks that this is a good idea? Did someone notice that people around the office were rashly printing off all of their emails, for no reason at all? Have any of you, ever, noticed anyone printing emails that he or she did not have a good reason to want in printed form? Has there been one person– one single solitary person— on our planet that decided to print an email, but then, upon consideration of the environment, decided that he didn’t need a printout of that email? Is there anyone who enjoys printing off emails? Do we need more disincentives for this disgusting and problematic problem? Please consider the many incentives I already have never to print an email that I don’t actually need on hard copy, before emailing me about it.
Or is it more likely that some group at some company or firm once sat around brainstorming how to be more cosmically conscious, and among their 30 really bad ideas, the idea of a polite footer in its own special green font emerged as the only one that would make it look like their group brainstorming session had been worth the price of the whiteboard eraser fluid they used to delete all the rest of the ideas? And isn’t it also likely that that company or firm lacked a quality control person, and thus there was no one in the room, or in the whole company, to tell them: “People, this is a crap idea?” Isn’t that most likely what happened?
“No,” you’re saying. “Not everyone believes in this cause yet. We are changing hearts and minds.” “Not with,” I am saying, “your annoying email footer. It’s more that you are depleting our national stock of green font, and much of the goodwill towards men, too.” Let us agree as a nation that those people who do not like the environment, or do not think its fate lies in the hands of the email printers of the world, hold their positions with sufficient seriousness that they are not likely to abandon them when faced with a well-argued email footer. Rare is the environment hater with enough integrity to juuuust about hit that print button, but then stop himself, picture a glistening mountain lake below a glacier, and see a fish jump out of the lake, and then he sees an ostrich, and then the environment, and then he says “no, I have considered the environment. And now this email I simply cannot print.” No, that is not how environmental terrorists work, at least not the ones I know.
This is not a rant against environmentalism (although I admit that all causes, including environmentalism, lose a lot of their luster for me as soon as I see stunts like this). This is me taking a stand against nonsense in the service of activism, and self-righteousness for its own sake. It is no longer a brave stand to speak out in favor of not printing papers you do not need to print. No one doesn’t already do that. It reminds me of the Allstate ads where Mr. former U.S. American President from 24 tells us that “we don’t raise your rates when you don’t get in accidents and don’t get tickets. That’s Allstate’s stand.” This is not a stand. It’s a suck-up. Stop it.