Conflicting Cultures?

I enjoy watching documentaries and since I have began watching these quick 50 minute informative videos, I have seen quite a few on factories like the one Mike Daisey discusses. Yet this monologue was still striking even though I expected to hear things I have already heard. One thing that stood out to me was his discovery of handmade electronics. Daisey elaborates on finding this out by discussing how so many of us wish things were handmade or had the personal touch that they used to. To think the devices that we use to prevent personal interaction; the devices that give us the ability to find any amount of information without any effort are put together by human hands. Not machines, not computers. Our high-tech computers are not constructed by a higher technology, but by uneducated people. I am completely fascinated by this. All the technology in the world and bare hands built my iPhone and MacBook Pro. And then to think how much money these things cost and think back to how each factory must look. I can only infer from other videos I have watched but I cannot imagine the working conditions are good nor is the pay. Daisey said they are not even allowed to speak in a 12 hour shift!

Later, he and his translator discuss the possibility of the workers being mentally ill. I thought I might agree with that statement but after really thinking about it I do not it is illness, but the culture. The culture is almost unfathomable – that workplaces like this are so common and people work and live in silence regarding such horrific lifestyles.

The piece of the story that struck me the most was when his translator said, “you hear stories, but you do not think it is going to be so much.” That line perfectly summed up my reaction to this piece. I had seen documentaries about slave-like factory workers and have read about them for other ethics courses, but every time I watch or read, something new sticks out to me. Like the handmade electronics and forced silence I heard about from Daisey. I am always shocked that places like this exist and that even with all the media attention given them, the conditions never seem to improve. It has become just as common to hear about a factory like this as it is to buy an iPhone, yet nobody stops buying them. I feel hopeless listening to this feeling like I cannot help, nor have I considering I have a Mac and an iPhone. So does my mom, dad, sisters, and almost all of my friends. I know I will buy the next one too. I would love to say that won’t, but I want to. Even after listening to that piece. Yet I do not feel like a bad person. That is just our culture. I said their culture is unfathomable, but it seems like ours might not be much better.


4 comments on “Conflicting Cultures?

  1. I agree that the cultures are completely different in China and that it shouldn’t be acceptable to have working conditions this poor. China finds it acceptable to give workers 12-16 hour days with conditions that drive them to suicide, and the United States companies and consumers find it acceptable to look the other way in exchange for the profits and products we desire.

  2. I thought that the quote your brought up in the third paragraph was very insightful. It resonated with me, because I also believe that we as americans choose to turn our cheek to the working conditions in china. Many of us would find it repulsive to know the means to our low manufacturing costs. We need to want to improve the conditions, and many would support that if we were more public an educated businesspeople about the conditions in china.

  3. I think you brought up a good point about the all of the media attention that is given to the poor working conditions, yet nothing is changing. Even the workers are trying to show the public how miserable the conditions are by throwing themselves off of buildings when they can’t take any more. I am surprised that nothing has changed despite the various attempts to inform people about how terrible working in one of these factories can be.

  4. Great points, I agree! The Apple cult is hard to get away from yet we know the way their products are produced is wrong…it is amazing how helpless one can feel, depending so much on a certain product such as an iPhone and thus not caring who makes it or how…this is a struggle that will probably continue for some time.

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