“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”.