Over the recent weeks, I’ve had to engage in a number of fax-related endeavors (namely, asking medical professionals to fax records to other medical professionals), and it’s come to my attention that there are a number of “anti-faxers,” or people who categorically oppose the use of fax machines, in our midst, and that we all need to be aware of this issue. Behold my informative post about anti-faxers.
What is Anti-Faxing?
Over recent years, hysteria about vaccine controversy and the anti-vaccination movement has become accepted as a part of everyday life. Experts warn, however, that behind all the panic about anti-vaxxers, there lies another, more hidden epidemic that poses a far greater threat to public health. These individuals, of course, are the anti-faxers. Researchers blame the rise of anti-faxing primarily on recent changes in legislation that have permitted nonmedical exemptions from faxing procedures, enabling Americans to resist faxing for virtually any reason they like. While anti-faxers are united in their absolutist perspectives on faxing, the thought process behind these beliefs are far from homogeneous.
“Anti-faxers will point to almost anything under the sun as a justification for their viewpoints,” said Rachel Dakwake, an anti-fax specialist from the National Thinktank for Office-Supply Controversy (NTOC). “You name it, it’s been used.” Some of the most common concerns cited are worries that the office supply industry is developing a Big-Brother like level of control over the nation; anecdotes about fax machine usage culminating in personal injury or illness; and even rumors of fax machines spontaneously flying into the air and falling on top of children, pets, or freshly baked desserts. Shannon Gregoryson, a realtor in Missouri, told reporters that anti-faxers she’s encountered are “highly creative” in explaining their opinions on the matter.
“My next-door neighbor is an anti-faxer,” Gregoryson said. “I’ve tried many times to convince him that sending materials via fax is not just important, but essential for the functioning of our society, but then he started complaining about the possibility of blackmail.” Just because this preoccupation came up for one individual, however, hardly makes it a unifying concern among the movement, and other anti-faxers resist fax machines for reasons completely unrelated to such fears.
“I don’t use the term ‘blackmail;’ it’s 2019, and I think it’s time for all of us to abandon this sort of overly dramatic language,” said Gavin Schportsmenleich, 29, of Virginia. “I just think fax machines have too many buttons. In this day and age, who has time to deal with all those buttons? All the Apple devices are getting rid of their buttons. Elevators don’t have that many buttons. Heck, the clothes in my closet have a combined total of, I don’t know, maybe twelve buttons, fourteen at the most! This isn’t a religious or political. There are just too many gosh darn buttons.” (In a later interview, Schportsmenleich clarified that his dislike of buttons may have to do with the murder of his late second-cousin-in-law-once-removed, Jeremy Blueteeth, who was killed in an incident of button-gang-related violence. Schportsmenleich has since become involved with a radical group that seeks to promote zippers and obliterate buttons from the face of the country, which has impacted his wardrobe accordingly.)
Where Did Anti-Faxing Come From?
“Facebook has been allowing anti-fax material to proliferate and even target users in regions where the fax machine industry is highly active with dramatic and aggressive ad campaigns,” said Veronica DiAmpersand of NTOC, who took over answering your correspondent’s questions after Dakwake came down with laryngitis. Facebook has been widely criticized for enabling not just this sort of fear-mongering, but also the spread of countless other harmful conspiracy theories.
“While we stand in firm opposition to whatever problem we haven’t been making the slightest effort to solve, we also want to respect our users’ right to free speech,” said Facebook representative Amaya Khoury in a prepared statement Thursday. “We believe that the best way to respond to the dissemination of controversial viewpoints is with alternative sources of information—alternative facts, if you will—so that readers can make the choice for themselves.” A Facebook employee who preferred to remain anonymous told reporters that the company has an informal “for the greater good” slogan, which Mark Zuckerberg adapted from the Harry Potter series after realizing that Google might have been onto something with “Do no evil.” The beauty of operating primarily in cyberspace, the employee explained, is that it’s “relatively easy for the upper management to distance themselves from pretty much any negative consequences of their policies. So unless Facebook is, like, literally making people’s computers explode, most decisions that are made in the name of capitalism can be retroactively justified with some amateur philosophizing.” While Facebook has not demonstrated a particularly strong effort to combat anti-faxer activity, the company faces increasing pressure from public figures to take a firmer stance on the issue as the anti-faxing epidemic proliferates.
Why Should We Care?
It can be easy to lose sight of the real reasons we need to pay attention to this matter, but doing so constitutes a risky step towards obliviousness and complacency.
“The anti-faxing movement has the potential to take down our country’s justice system and reverse all the medical progress we’ve made in the history of humankind,” said John Kennedeep, another NTOC official. He and other experts maintain that Americans “cannot take too seriously” the danger anti-faxers pose to society, and implore the public to do everything possible to fight back against this phenomenon. Kennedeep added that while modern healthcare in America “leaves a lot to be desired” and the prison system is “a total clusterf**k, to be honest,” there are more effective ways to address these issues than through the radical and ideology employed by anti-fax organizations.
Not only is anti-faxing a nationwide issue that some researchers have argued is the greatest threat to democracy since sliced bread, it can also devastate lives on the individual level. Jenna Klankley, 41, of Westportville, Nevada found herself in a difficult position when her older sister, Mackenzie Stafford, revealed her anti-faxer views at a tense Thanksgiving gathering.
“We had finally gotten to the end of a painful conversation where every single family member felt the need to walk us all through their various dietary restrictions when Mackenzie stood up and said she had something to tell everyone,” Klankley recalled. “I thought it was going to be another ‘Turkeys are people, too’ ordeal, but then she started talking about how her friend used a fax machine and then her house burned down, and I was like, ‘Oh, jeez, this is even worse.’”
Klankley’s is just one tragic story about how anti-faxing sentiment can rip a family apart. A recent Gallup poll showed that 78% of Americans reported that diverging views on faxing had placed a “significant strain” on their close relationships, and in the same poll, 92% of respondents stated that they had experienced at least one significant falling-out with a loved one as a result of this conflict.
What Can We Do?
Unfortunately for mathematicians and self-righteous people statistics and shaming are rarely a good way to combat anti-faxing. Rather than spray-painting words like “loser” and “birdbrain” on anti-faxers’ property, not letting your second-grade son have playdates with Emily because her mom is an anti-faxer, and getting into vitriolic arguments in YouTube comment sections, get informed about anti-faxing and then use the following tips to talk to anti-faxers in a respectful, productive fashion.
Tip #1: Be kind. Most anti-faxers are people, too, except for a small minority that FBI agents warn are likely Russian bots posing as humans on social media platforms. Remember to listen to anti-faxers, nod as they speak, and not call them names like “fool” and “you useless turnip,” as doing so can spark feelings of animosity or even end a conversation.
Tip #2: Meet them where they’re at. If an anti-faxer refuses to go into a building that contains a fax machine, trying to convince them to delete their email accounts and switch to faxing as their primary form of communication might be a tough sell. Instead, pretend to be sympathetic to their perspectives while slowly and methodically forcing them to adopt your perspective.
Tip #3: Have some self-compassion. We all need to take a break sometimes. If you’re getting worked up during a conversation with an anti-faxer, experts recommend that you pretend to receive a phone call warning you of a family emergency or simply shriek, “I can’t do this anymore, Deborah!” before removing yourself from the situation and getting out your frustration in a healthy way. This could take the form of punching a pillow, casual kickboxing, or writing angry Yelp reviews about restaurants you’ve never visited. When you feel calm enough, you can go back to the anti-faxer and explain that their presence reeks of what 21st-century elitists call “toxic foolishness,” but that you’re now ready to continue pretending to sympathize with their inane viewpoints.
Tip #4: If Tips 1-3 don’t work out, settle things the old-fashioned way. Grab a Nerf sword and fight to the death.