In 2015, Mark Frauenfelder wrote here about "Rage Rooms" in Buenos Aires and Toronto where one was provided a safe space, weapons and objects to destroy. Predictably, these have taken off and are now present in many cities across the world: "People are paying to break printers with sledgehammers." And to be clear, they want to break printers more than anything else.
Across the United States, customers can book sessions at a smash rooms and pay anything from dozens to hundreds of dollars to smash dishes, furniture and — most of all — printers.
Turns out, though, smashing printers is kind of dangerous.
The now-controversial ritual dates back at least 24 years to the cult Mike Judge movie "Office Space," in which frustrated office workers take a printer to a field and smash it to pieces with baseball bats. Since 2016 or so, smash rooms have provided a space where regular people can live their "Office Space" fantasies, and all that smashing is good for the spirit, owners and customers say.
Why do Americans loathe printers so much they're paying actual money to hit them with sledgehammers? So many reasons, say smashers.
The problem is simple enough: printers are full of nasty, toxic chemicals. So these rage rooms effectively pose an environmental hazard–if not a direct one to the customers and staff. And legality is an issue, too.
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control's website says that while rage rooms themselves aren't illegal, smashing up "e-waste" including printers is. It will investigate any rage rooms that smash e-waste and offer a button for visitors to report new rage rooms in their area as an environmental concern.