Tag Archives: shenzhen

How do you make people care?

After listening to the TAL podcast that retracted “Mr. Daisey and Apple” the one line that stuck with me was when Mike Daisey said, “I wanted to make a monologue that would make people care.” Well, Mike Daisey certainly made people care. He made people care about the ethicality and truthfulness behind a story. So, how did he do this? Continue reading How do you make people care?

Apple Globalization Drama Justice

Hi Classmates, I have been sick all week and not able to post to the blog until now.

This podcast struck home for me as an Apple “fan boy” and as a human being. The speaker expertly used pauses, trepidation, and repetition to drive home points, generate thought from his listeners, and to increase engagement and entertainment. To me, this was not so much a think-piece on Apple as it was a comment on consumerism and the adverse effect it is having on the world and humanity. Below are a few of his points that struck the loudest cord with me.

Our consumerism’s effect on the Environment: “The air in Shenzhen is like a booted foot resting on your chest, but after a few days you hardly notice it at all.” The term that comes to mind for me is “creeping normalcy.” When something seems terrible at first, but the person being exposed to it gets used to it and forgets how terrible it is over an extended period of time. It is a shame that our consumerism in the western hemisphere has led to this terrible condition somewhere else on a planet we share. It is also a shame that the Chinese workers who are forced to live in these conditions probably no longer notice it. I wonder how good the air in Iceland would taste– smell, feel— to one of these Chinese workers if they could step on a plane and get away.

The Size of the factories: Although this estimate was later edited at the end of the podcast, the speaker tries to get you to imagine the size of a factory which holds 20 cafeterias that each seat 10,000 (later, each is stated to seat 4,000). I imagined what it would be like to work in a factory that houses enough people to fill the Wells Fargo Center 20 times over, or Lincoln Financial field 7 times over, venues that I am familiar with. It was an interesting exercise, and I would recommend other listeners to try to imagine 400,000-500,000 people in a scale that is relatable to them.

The aesthetics hiding what is inside: In between the factory gate and the factory, there is an expansive plush green lawn (that nobody sets foot on). Before one can even enter the actual factory, there is a huge corinthian (corinthian!) lobby which contains just a receptionist. It makes me unhappy to think about how much money was spent to create these illusions of wealth and happiness when at the same time their workers are packed a dozen at a time into 12×12 rooms into bunk beds with so little space that the average American literally would not even be able to fit into them.

Suicide- After much thought, I disagreed with him on his stance on the suicide of Foxconn workers. Even while acknowledging that the Foxconn suicide rate was actually far lower than the suicide rate in the rest of China, he countered this point by stating that if workers in one company were consistantly committing suicide in the United States, we would take notice. I simply disagree with this point because while he earlier dropped his jaw at the sheer massiveness of this operation, he then brushed this notion aside when bringing up suicide. I think it is completely fair for Foxconn defenders to point out that the suicide rate is below the national level. When you put a half million people to work, and only 12 of them commit suicide in a year, there is clearly no correlation between working at Foxconn and committing suicide. It seems that if these half million people were viewed as citizens of the same city rather than workers for the same company and 88 of them committed suicide, as would be statistically likely, no one would blink an eye. His “week after week, month after month” rant about suicide is intentionally misleading and heavily implies that death is a more enjoyable route than working in these factories– which by the way, is something these workers are doing by choice. I believe he has forgotten the alternatives to this work for these laborers, which I speculate might be simply starving. This is still terrible, but this was a bone I had to pick with him.

Overall, I enjoyed listening to this podcast and reflecting on it afterwards.

Sweatshops are bad. But we should feel alright about them.

After listening to This American Life, I am still trying to wrap my mind around the type of people who are running these manufacturing companies. I would to understand what is going through their minds when they monitor these workers. Listening to the podcast, I am sure many of us already knew about the harsh working conditions regarding the sweatshops, but how do we as consumers look using these products and turning a blind eye. It is saddening to see how Foxconn and other sweatshop companies have the ability to just let money cloud their judgment. I always thought what if it was their 12-14 year old daughter working in these factories would the sweatshop owners or the American companies owners still continue doing business with them? Where has the morality of these companies gone? From changing the production line with older workers when auditors come to the harsh working and living conditions workers have to go through is just disappointing to see.

One thing that really caught my attention was when they talked about how some people see the benefit in sweatshops as an effective way to fight poverty. Yes, I can agree to an extend that they are being taken out of their state of poverty, but they also have to realize that the workers are still technically in the same situation as before because they are still living in poverty from the rich benefiting on their behalf. Some of the production workers are saying that the being in poverty with manufacturing jobs are preferred over agriculture, but with these production line jobs their mental and physical health is actually suffering more. For instance, these companies do not care about providing you with medical support if you hurt yourself because the workers are seem as disposable goods that can be easily replaced. This takes me back to my first blog entry about individual sustainability, where our society has helped promote a world of self-interest and success. This type of mentality can contribute to the focus on profit maximization, which can hinder one’s judgment. Why is there this mind-set of selling the cheapest product when we in the US have fought for labor rights for 100 years? Do we want to just keep our achievements to ourselves because it seems that way when we outsourced our production jobs without the protections of workers?

Personally, for me, I never actually realized where these products came from, but it was always in the back of my mind. I own many of these products that are produced in these manufacturing companies in ShenZhen and when I first heard the name of this city is shocked me because this is where my family is from. The last time I was back in that area I was about six years old, so I never got a chance to actually see the city the way it was described by Mike. Even now I do not hear about these factories my family from that area speak and I think it stems from the normality of getting work in these manufacturing companies to make a living. On the other side of the world, people are so blinded by all the social benefits these products bring like a sense of status and belonging in our culture. Our societies are so fixed on having the best and providing people an image of your success because nobody enjoys the feeling of being ostracized. I believe the our own individual intentions along with the society we have socially constructed with material goods has these conditions acceptable.

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

“I Can’t Say”-SIRI

It’s actually quite hilarious when the WBEZ Chicago radio show host asks Siri where Siri was manufactured. The all-knowing Siri replies with, “I can’t say”. The crazy part of this answer is that Siri definitely knows where she was manufactured and it states on the back of the iPhone 4 that the phone was created in China. Curious, I asked my iPhone 4s(Yes, still living in the past) the same question the radio show host asked Siri. Siri responded to me saying, “Like it said on the box, I was designed in California”. For some reason, Siri still does not answer that question. Obviously the iPhone was designed in California, but I really wanted to see whether Siri was reprogrammed in an update to answer this question correctly. Clearly, Siri was not. Siri’s evading of the question relates directly to the overall secret nature of Apple. Apple management clearly knows what they are doing. For some fishy reason, they choose to be secretive about where their products are manufactured. However, the public is prudent enough to know that most products are made in China. One dedicated Apple enthusiast, Mike Daisy, took it upon himself to unveil some of the secrecy behind Apple’s manufacturing partners in China.

Continue reading “I Can’t Say”-SIRI

Driving Mike Daisey

Mike Daisey’s persistence to uncover the truth about where our technology comes from was like watching Morgan Freeman try to befriend the stubborn Miss Daisy in the popular 1989 movie Driving Miss Daisy.  In all seriousness, I found the podcast to be eye-opening and thought-provoking. I had a difficult time trying to imagine a single factory with 400,000+ people inside. To put things in perspective, the population of Miami, Florida is a bit smaller than the number of workers contained within a single Foxconn factory. Continue reading Driving Mike Daisey