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A Breakup Letter to Paper

By Katie Simpson on June 9, 2014
Tags: Paperless Business News

Dear Paper,

We need to talk.  Look, I know this isn’t easy, but we’ve both known this was coming. I mean, we’ve been together for thousands of years. We've had our ups and downs, but we've reached a new low this time. I don't think we can fix it this time. 

We can't avoid this conversation anymore. Photo credit: what_marty_sees via photopin cc 

We tried to make this work for years. We bought you in the thousands, filed you, copied and faxed you. We carried you with us in our cars, on clipboards, even in our back pockets. But time and again, you flaked! A drop of water and you could tear in two. A splash of coffee and you were unreadable. And you just loooved to run off with the wind, every time! 

Alright, so we’re the ones prone to accidents. We know we aren't perfect, but we needed you! And you just fell apart every time. 

We knew but it broke our hearts every time.(source)

Okay, it’s true: you haven’t changed. You never promised to last through coffee stains or the accidental ink smear. You never promised to land in the right filing cabinet, or even stay there. We knew going in that you weren’t perfect.

But, in the beginning, you were one of a kind. No one else could go with us everywhere. No one else was so versatile in taking down the information we needed. If a light went out, you’d carry that information in an inspection. If we had something delivered, you could collect the delivery guy’s signature. You’d even give us the time and date. Sure a dog could notify us really quickly, but he could also start a lawsuit for attacking the delivery guy (Sorry John! We don’t know what got into Rufus that day.) You were the only one that could carry this important information. We loved you for that. 

Rufus is usually much calmer than that! (source)

But, after a couple thousand years, we started to have choices. I mean, we always knew speed wasn’t your thing. You could take days or weeks to return to the office with a survey or work order. We let it slide in the 19th century, but soon, we started having options. Slowly, fax machines, cell phones, and email started to vie for our hearts.

Perhaps they saw us all alone by the window waiting for you to come back. Perhaps they heard us sigh when you spent another night out god knows where. But when you were hanging out in the back of someone else’s car, we had sales to close. When you were playing hooky in the wrong filing cabinet, we had customers to help. We were worrying and working late into the night. You weren’t there, but email and phones were with us, never leaving.

Sometimes it felt like you were never coming back. 

While all of this was happening, god this is hard to say, we met someone new. We discovered mobile apps. It started off as a simple attraction. Yeah, they were shiny and new, and showing up on our phones and tablets. They were there, wherever we were. It was totally platonic at first. It was nice to just have a friend that was always there.

After a while, they actually started listening to our needs and responding. I mean, they weren’t picky about what type of device we used. iOS, Android, Windows or Blackberries were welcome. We could even choose between smartphones or tablets -- mobile apps worked on them all. They understood how much we loved you: they gave us a free trial. They even converted our first form into a mobile app for free. We were helpless against this siren call. It was more potent than the free food samples at Costco. 

We couldn’t help ourselves, really! The temptation was just too great. (source)

So, we gave it a try. I mean, we just to see what all the hubbub was about. Suddenly, we could get delivery confirmations on our phones. We could fill out inspections on our tablets. With checkboxes, drop down lists, even pre-populated sections, going mobile made it easy to get stuff done. We loved working with you, but you made us do data entry after filling stuff out. Why? Mobile apps never made us do that. They send our information straight to the cloud, or even straight into our databases. They can add photos or GPS locations to our forms. Why couldn’t you??

No, don’t act all surprised, you knew this was coming. Yeah, you caught us too many times on our phones in the bathroom or in the kitchen. But we tried to talk to you. We really did. But you weren’t willing. You kept saying, “This is who I am” and getting all crinkly on us. Instead of talking, you gave us paper cuts! What were we supposed to do? Continue having three week sale cycles? Continue staying up late trying to read bad handwriting? 

Sometimes we can’t even speak it’s just too much. Photo credit: Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez

We love you. We’ve been together for so long. But we also have businesses to run and customers to delight. You’re holding us back from that. It’s just not working anymore. I’m sorry.

Before you go ranting about us online, know this: You’ll always have a place in our hearts. Nothing can change that. We’ll keep a few sheets around to preserve in museums and tell our grandkids. You can reminisce with the stone tablets and Egyptian papyrus. But with filing cabinets costing over $2,000 a year, you're just too expensive!

Don’t worry, I’m sure there are still journals for you to fill, and some school assignments to keep you busy. Well there are sites like 750words and Blackboard, so maybe you should worry. I mean even babies get confused by you now: 

What we’re trying to say is this: we’ll never forget you. It’s just time to go our separate ways. 

-Businesses everywhere

P.S. Do you want to learn more about mobile apps? We've created a free guide for all you frustrated businesses:

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