When Mike Daisy started speaking on This American Life, I was intrigued as to what the four pictures that started his journey actually looked like. So, I opened up a new tab and started to run a quick google search. Upon looking for these pictures, I stumbled upon an article that stated this episode was later redacted by This American Life because Mike Daisy fabricated many of the encounters in China he spoke about. This was incredibly disappointing to learn– especially since it was before I was able to listen to his story. Instead of being able to enjoy his talented narrative of his experiences, I was highly critical and skeptical of everything I heard, ruining what I’m sure would have otherwise been quite a captivating speech. It was especially ironic when Mike remarked that he was “going to lie to a lot of people” in regards to his communication with Foxconn.
Eventually, I began to feel quite angry. It was clear that Mike’s overall message was not fabricated. The sweatshop conditions were real, child labor exists, and most of what he said really is happening, it was just some specific interactions that were fabricated or greatly exaggerated. But my anger did not stem from the lies directly. Instead, I was furious about how much damage Mike Daisy is doing to the very cause he sought out to support. I believe that people do need to understand what is going on in Chinese manufacturing sweatshops, and I do believe that people need to hear and should support Mike’s message. However, when he shares this message that is filled with lies and deceit, he discredits the problem and does more damage than good. The next time I hear a report about sweatshop conditions in Chinese manufacturing plants, I will be highly skeptical and remember the lies and falsities Mike Daisy tricked over a million people into downloading.
I tried redirecting my anger from Mike Daisy’s lies and deceit to Apple for supporting a company like Foxconn, but the truth is I couldn’t. Apple is just doing good business. They even go outside their scope of responsibilities and send auditors to make sure there are no underaged children being put to work, and make Foxconn pay for their education if there are. The podcast even showed that they stopped doing business with one supplier due to the excessive amount of child labor there. Apple is not responsible for the working conditions of Chinese companies, and if they feel the conditions are so poor they have been proven to use their purchasing power to take their business elsewhere. The responsibility lies entirely on the government of China and boards of Chinese companies to create adequate working environments.