“I think, what I thought, is they were made by robots”

“I think, what I thought, is they were made by robots.” Mike Daisey’s subconscious notion of the manufacturing process of Apple products was perfectly aligned with what I had imagined. Apple products are so futuristic and streamlined that it is only logical to assume all parts of the Apple supply chain would have the same characteristics. Considering I envisioned that high-tech machinery in a white, sleek factory pieced together each device, this podcast was truly fascinating and eye-opening for me.I suppose one reasoning behind why we all might have similar assumptions about factories is that we have very limited experiences with them. Mike mentions his impression came from a news story on Japanese automobile factories. My minimal experience is Hershey’s Great American Chocolate Tour ride. The ride doesn’t show any people making the many varieties of chocolate goodies. Maybe a few cows have a contribution, but no people. Big, shiny, silver machines do all the work.

Like Mike, I don’t think I’ve ever thought, “in a dedicated way”, how anything was made. After listening to the podcast, I took a survey of my room. My pillows, my hair straightener, my chair, my fuzzy blanket, my notebooks, were all “Made in China”. They all seemed so machined and mass-produced, but I began to wonder if they might actually all be made by hand, or at least mostly by hand, as Mike claims many products are. It’s alarming that it is cheaper to pay actual workers in Shenzhen than to build machines to make all these things.

I have owned an iPod Nano, iPod Touch, iPhone, and MacBook Pro; and all five of my family members own iPhones (all this despite the fact that my dad is a computer programmer and only allows Windows computers and laptops in the house). Like Mike, I definitely never considered where these products came from, or where any of my many other “things” were manufactured. This podcast reminded me just how mindlessly we consume, and certainly made me more conscious of the conditions they were created under. I would hope these conditions can be improved and that I will shop mindfully in the future, perhaps avoiding companies whose workers are treated poorly. However, like most Americans, I’m sure I will soon forget the message Mike presents and the many unseen, unfair processes behind all my “crap”.

5 thoughts on ““I think, what I thought, is they were made by robots””

  1. When I heard him say he pictured iPhones being made by machines, it made me feel bad for the workers who really make them. Each human being dedicates time to creating devices for other human beings to use, and only do they get no credit–they get punished in my eyes.


    1. Robbie, I think your point here is very insightful. I use my iPhone hundreds of times a day, where it is almost integral to my life. But I never take the time to think about people actually building it piece by piece. These workers should receive more credit for their work and people should recognize they aren’t made by machines. It makes me wonder what other stuff people do to improve my life I am completely unaware of.


  2. I agree that it is a problem that we listen to these types of eye opening ideas, then forget about it shortly after, and continue with our lives. Even though, after listening to this podcast, I really wanted to throw away all the Apple products I own, this is not something I will do, but I also don’t want to forget about the things I have heard, and to think twice before I make any electronic purchase. So, the bigger questions here is: How do we increase the lasting impact of messages like this, so that we don’t just move on with our lives and take action?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The messages I most strongly remember in today’s society are ones that have created movements or campaigns. For example, some messages I recall are: there is still a wage gap between men and women, smoking is very dangerous to your health, and sexual assault is prevalent on college campuses. All of these messages have been widely visible for years, receiving a lot of attention in the media and gaining traction through many books, speakers, protests and PSAs. Creating a lasting impact requires a movement of people continually reminding the general public that an issue exists. That time may come for the message Mike presents, but only if enough other people get involved with the cause.


  3. I completely agree that it’s unfortunate human beings suffer to create Apple products, and then they receive no credit. Your comment, Robbie, actually reminded me of a Louis CK bit you might find interesting. While he also agrees with your sentiment, he points out that great success often comes only at the expense of a group of people.

    Liked by 1 person

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