The Whole Truth


I found the video “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” to provide a very interesting perspective on Mike Daisey’s performance.  I liked how there were periodic breaks in the performance to give commentary and additional notes to judge the validity of Daisey’s statements and provide additional sources.  The use of additional sources and perspectives put less weight on the Daisey’s story and offers the audience a more balanced and “true” point of view than Daisey’s original performance.  The historical portion of the performance also gave validity to the overall performance, as it presented facts easily accessible from other sources, rather than purely personal anecdotes where we have to take the speaker at their word.  When questionable anecdotes were used, there was a break in the performance to clarify or question the truth of the speaker’s remarks.

The performance stressed that we should always know where our products come from and should investigate the origin ourselves.  It is important to note the difference between theater and journalism and fact and fiction.  The play raises interesting questions as to what is true versus what is untrue and how can we know the difference.  I think that the play took a good approach in providing many different ways of presenting the information.  It included personal anecdotes from both Daisey’s and Bucknell students’ trips to China, interviews with Steve Jobs, historical facts on Apple and the state of China, clips from the retraction of Daisey’s article and others.  These gave the presentation more credibility, even though it was very clearly presented as theater rather than journalism, giving the audience very informational and moving entertainment.

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un/real and un/true: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs


            I really enjoyed Bucknell’s adaption of Mike Daisey’s play they called “”un/real and un/true: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” I thought that the combination of Daisey’s original story with the interludes throughout the play was particularly interesting in telling the story of Apple’s history. Although I enjoyed the play, the one thing that bothered me about Bucknell’s play was that I was not entirely sure what they were trying to accomplish with the play. In Daisey’s version it is clear that Daisey was trying to bring to light the working conditions in Foxconn’s factories in China. In Bucknell’s version, there were too many things going on throughout the hour and a half. Was Bucknell’s adaption to tell a more truthful version of Daisey’s story, to point out Daisey’s faults, or to tell the story of Steve Jobs? To me, the fact their play went in so many different directions, it took away from the overall product.

         A friend of mine, Bo Yao, who is a senior at Bucknell, grew up in China and came to the United States for an education. I’ve known him for almost three years but I’ve never actually talked to him about life in China before. So it was interesting to hear what he had to say. One thing that he told me, which was a surprised about, was that the workers in China are starting to get more power. They are demanding higher wages and better working conditions. The problem with this though is that many manufacturers are leaving China and moving to Southeast Asia because labor costs are cheaper there. After hearing all the stories about the working conditions in China, it is hard to imagine that there are countries where they are even worse.

Understanding Chinese Culture


I really enjoyed the performance because it effectively pointed out the lies of Mike Daisey’s story in a creative way. One of the most important issues I realized while watching was that, even though we think we have an idea, most of us Americans really don’t know what it’s like in China. We all use electronics and other products made in China but we often ignore the details of how these products were made, what the factories are like, or how the workers are treated. As the professor said, the issue is not whether or not Mike Daisey lied, but that Americans don’t understand China’s culture. We don’t see that these jobs are sometimes the only way to escape poverty.

A statistic that stood out to me was that 50% of all of the world’s electronics were made at Foxconn. Yet, many Americans have never heard of the city of Shenzhen. It seems ironic that we don’t know anything about a city where a lot of the electronics we use were made. Apple products have become central to many American’s lives that it’s almost like a religion. Still, most people don’t seem to care where these products come from or how they were made because it simply doesn’t matter to them. The fact is, most of us don’t understand what it’s like to live in a country where so many workers are treated so poorly to make products that are shipped off to place that doesn’t care about the manufacturing process.

I do not personally know any students here that are from China, but I think it would be very interesting to hear their perspectives on this issue. As I learned from reading “The Working Poor” for another class, bad working conditions are in all parts of the world, including America. The book pointed out that people who work hard should not be treated as poorly as they often are. I immediately thought of the foxconn workers who seem to be working very hard but not getting rewarded accordingly.

Mike Daisey This American Life


After listening to Mike Daisey’s monologue on the Foxconn factories in China, there was one comment he made that stood out amongst the rest. It came within the first few minutes of his speech. Like he said, everyone knows that almost all of the technological products that we use in the United States are made in other countries around the world, mostly in China. But that’s about it. Everyone knows that the Eiffel Tower is in Paris or the Coliseum is in Rome, which has no effect on our daily lives, but no one knows where the devices we use constantly throughout every day of our lives originates.  That there is a single city in China that is responsible for manufacturing all the electronics we use daily. In many ways, Shenzhen is one of the most important cities in the world to Americans. Yet the majority of us, including myself, have never heard of it. I am sitting here typing this on my Apple computer with my iPhone right next to me and I had no clue where they actually were made. China is a massive country and to say something is made in China is incredibly vague and almost ignorant. Imagine someone from outside the United States, who is a reasonably educated person, saying that the only thing they know about White House is that it is in America and not that it is in Washington D.C. or it is where the president lives. You would probably look at them a little funny. To me, it is baffling that there is this city that so few have heard that plays such a major part in our lives.

The reason that comment was the most interesting to me from Mike Daisey’s monologue was because I already knew about the working conditions in these sweatshops in China. I do not know for certain, but I feel that most Americans know this as well. I find it hard to believe that there are people in America that think that these workers in China are getting treating like workers in the United States. I mean that is the reason the factories are over there and not here in the United States. Although most people know about these poor working conditions, it is not something that people want to think about. You would go crazy if every time you opened your computer or looked at your phone you thought of all the workers in China that put them together with their bare hands.

Response to “Retraction”


My first reaction to “Retraction” was frustration because I couldn’t believe that I listened to Mike Daisey’s entire monologue without even thinking if he could be lying or not. I assumed that since he was talking about his personal experiences that the things he was saying were true. Now, after discovering the numerous lies Daisey told, I realize that I shouldn’t be surprised. Daisey’s monologue was not journalism; it was purely his attempt of being entertaining. In this case, it seems as though Daisey is nothing more than an actor since so much of his story was found out to be false.

At one point in “Retraction,” Daisey apologizes. In my opinion, he also owes an apology to Apple. Although we know that there are poor working conditions at factories that produce Apple products, the content in Daisey’s monologue was clearly exaggerated. With a high volume of listeners, I would assume that many of these listeners had a worsened image of Apple as a company after hearing Daisey’s story. This effect isn’t fair to Apple, considering many of the issues presented were exaggerated or made up altogether. This makes me wonder if Daisey had other motives besides just trying to put on a show and be entertaining.

It was disturbing for me to hear how many of the ideas presented were actually lies. I don’t understand why Daisey felt the need to tell a completely different story compared to what he actually experienced. When asked questions about his lies, he took a while to answer and when he finally answered, he didn’t seem confident in what he was saying. Could he have lied in that interview as well? Although he admits to his lies, he still tries to explain himself and stand behind his story. In my eyes, Daisey lost all credibility and nothing he says should be trusted. People tend to believe others who are talking about personal experiences, but it is probably wise to look out for people who might have other motives and could be lying or exaggerating the truth.

In Journalism, Opinions Can’t be Facts


The retraction of Dasiey’s article was very surprising. When someone is reporting statistics that are extreme and frightening, it is hard to believe that they would take matters of fact into their own hands. The worst part about such a moving article presenting incorrect facts is that now, the public cannot truly appreciate and believe all the information they previously absorbed. It is hard to realize what was true and what was false and to have faith in any of the information Daisey presented. It was especially inappropriate for Dasiey to present such false facts on a public news station acting as a journalist. When he was asked to present the piece on such a station, he gave up the right to formulate his own story rather than present the public with true and factual information.

I was partially sympathetic to his explanation of “shaping” the story. He wanted to raise awareness of the horrific conditions of Chinese factories by including all the shocking anecdotes he heard from factory workers. Even though he had not personally spoke to those affected by the Hexane gas, for example, he wanted to spread awareness that issues like that exist. Unfortunately, he added such extreme aspects to the story that were untrue for anywhere in China, not just at Foxconn. With allegations of guns at the gate and underage workers that were confirmed as false, the shock factor of most of his story vanishes. Yes the conditions are poor and the pay is terrible, but these facts are known. The discussions with workers did not reveal much more information than we have already heard. Daisey needed to add a theatrical value to the piece that just could not be corroborated.

Perhaps the worst part of the retraction was Dasiey’s admittance to being fearful of the truth being found out. He lied about his translator and did not allow for all facts to be checked out by a news station. Daisey did not let them do their job: report accurate news to the public.  It is even worse that he says at some point he wished the story was pulled. Daisey knew that it was wrong for this story to be heard but he also feared people looking into his facts. Any notability he would have as a journalist would be, and now is, gone.

It is important in analyzing his original post and his retraction to realize that opinions are valuable and deserve to be heard, but opinions loose credibility when lies are twisted in. Thinking workers are young is different than blatantly stating their ages and thinking the guards are intimidating is different than stating that they are deadly. Yes, most of what Daisey said is true in a sense. He was trying to formulate truth by mixing stories and details from multiple sources. Where he went wrong was including details that do not exist anywhere. He betrayed the trust of his translator, his employers and the public that listened in to his story. Journalism is an art form – using news to captivate an audience, but the art is lost when one cannot make the truth captivating and instead lies to enhance a story.

Mike Daisey Retraction


The retraction of Mike Daisey’s story about the terrible conditions at the Foxconn plant shows the importance of fact-checking in the world of journalism.  Daisey was able to manipulate his listeners into thinking that Apple was an evil company that forced its suppliers into terrible working conditions – or at least did nothing to stop them from occurring.  Daisey exaggerated and even fabricated parts of his story to influence the opinions of his listeners to fit his impression of Foxconn and Apple.  The graphic and descriptive nature of his story was so realistic that we all believed it to be true without looking at other sources to verify the facts behind his experiences.

While I am disappointed that Daisey’s story is fabricated, I cannot say that I am completely surprised.  Some of his anecdotes appeared to be stretched to the point where they were hard to believe he accomplished in a few days time, such as talking to “hundreds of workers” outside of the Foxconn gates; however, we believed them because they were on the news and were told in a manner so descriptive that there was an impression that these anecdotes couldn’t possibly be fabricated.  This retraction shows that we cannot always believe what we are told, even if it appears to come from a credible news source.  Facts can be twisted, exaggerated, or in this case, fabricated, to present a particular view of the person presenting the information.

This retraction shows that it is important to look at multiple sources when forming an opinion.  A simple Google search “Mike Daisey Foxconn” fills the first page with articles saying that the story was fabricated.  I personally feel foolish that I did not look into this or other sources regarding the reporting of Daisey’s story, but it shows that myself and others are quick to believe what is told to us without consulting other sources to verify the merits of a particular story.  This argument can be expanded to the news media that try to use facts in a certain context to spin news their way.  Whatever the story, it is important to have the facts straight before forming an opinion.

Working Conditions, Indifference, and Causes of Change in Organizations


jul-24-2013-china-has-banned-the-release-of-despicable-me-2-chineseMike Daisy’s monologue about globalization, industrial production and Apple is a great application of theatre to confront social issues. While I think that Mike Daisy knew the story he wanted to tell prior to the interviews he did, I loved the theme of the piece. He looks at industrial facilities, the source products we use everyday, through a perspective that values humans. He blatantly takes a stakeholder viewpoint of how businesses should be run.

One of Daisy’s thoughts that stuck with me is the question of how change is created in organizations. Mike Daisy said that “change requires caring” and that stakeholders at all levels (Apple, consumers) have turned a blind eye to the working conditions in places like the one Mike visited in China. Mike Daisy makes this clear that we should feel concerned about the working conditions. Hearing about the working conditions makes me wonder how economists can argue that the free market is the solution for the ills of our society. If anything, Shen jen, an area that has had recent economic growth, is now making large profits for some while ruining the quality of life for many (sometimes to the point of suicide).

I thoroughly appreciated the issue that Mike Daisy’s monologue brings to light. He adds value and humanity into the story of the “stuff” that we use.

Daisy on Foxconn


I found that Mike Daisy’s recount of the conditions of the Foxconn plant to be very graphic and disturbing.  However, I do not think that this is the fault of Apple, but rather Foxconn and the totalitarian regime of China.  The reason that the majority of U.S. products are manufactured in China is because the cost is so much cheaper than in the United States.  Unfortunately, this cheap labor breeds awful working conditions.  The Chinese government does not enforce labor standards, allowing for underage workers, harsh conditions, extended hours, and low wages.  Foxconn operates on the basis of many Chinese companies that people are expendable and like parts of a machine.

Apple, on the other hand, has done nothing wrong.  It periodically checks the plants for stable working conditions and—at least on the surface—investigates any labor issues that occur.  Daisy even recounted that Foxconn knew when the plants were being audited and would adjust their standards accordingly.  But the real point—though a controversial one—is that Apple needs the low cost labor of Foxconn to exist in the first place.  If Foxconn increased wages and benefits to the levels that Americans enjoy, Apple would cease to exist, as the average wage in China is $2.00 compared to the average wage in the U.S. of $34.75 (this would be an additional $25 billion per year in costs and Apple makes roughly $14 billion) 1.

While the conditions in China are terrible, we cannot blame Apple for producing its products there to stay in business (focusing on the design of their products that consumers love so much).  It is the role of the Chinese government to enact and enforce laws that help the people gain better working conditions, as companies like Foxconn are designed to minimize costs at all costs.  However, as we have seen before from the communist China (i.e. sending a 14-year old to the Olympics in 2000), the government only views its citizens as tools to serve the state.

 

1 – http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2012/01/25/the-real-reason-the-u-s-doesnt-make-iphones-we-wouldnt-want-to/

Mr. Daisey and Apple


Although I’ve previously learned about the poor working conditions in China as it relates to manufacturing Apple products, this monologue provided personal experiences of the workers, which really opened my eyes to how unfair such practices are. As an owner of a MacBook Pro, iPad, and iPhone, listening to how miserable the working conditions are for the people who make these products saddened me. It seems as though everyone I know has at least one Apple product. I love using Apple products but I am now thinking twice about what it means to support a company that treats its workers so poorly.

Some of the statistics mentioned were horrifying. People working up to 16 hours a day, people getting injured on the job and then fired for being slow, and the high suicide rate were just some of the disturbing facts that really caught my ear. Also, the fact that the electronics are all put together by hand was shocking to me. I would have thought that machines played a bigger role in the process. Another shocking part was when the man who worked with iPads had never even seen one on.

The line that stood out to me the most was when Mike said, “Do you really think Apple doesn’t know? A company obsessed with the details? Or do they do what everyone else is doing, do they just see what they want to see?” It seems to me that many people only see what they want to see when using products that were made in the factories like the ones described in the monologue. No one is willing to give up their iPhone because of working conditions in China that don’t affect them personally. I feel as though many people are ignorant to the facts of what really goes on in factories such as Foxconn because they are not personally being harmed. This shouldn’t change the fact that the way these workers are getting treated is extremely unjust.

“Mr. Daisy and Apple”


I reevaluated my consumer habits upon listening to the podcast, “Mr. Daisy and Apple.” I can’t help but feel a sense of guilt as I listen to half of the podcast on my Mac laptop and the other half on my Apple iPhone. My sense of guilt climaxed when Mike interviewed a worker who works on the assembly line, yet has never seen a finished iPad. I regrettably admit I usually don’t think twice about the factories where my possessions are manufactured and the conditions, since I feel far removed as a consumer. Although I have heard about Foxconn, I never realized the extremity of the factory and how they treat their employees.

The working conditions in these factories seem appalling. I imagined a factory with many loud machines producing Apple products, but according to the podcast the factory is quiet since thousands of fingers assemble products. Hands are overworked at a young age, causing workers to injure their bodies when they are older.  I was appalled by the age of the workers and the number of hours worked. An 8 hour workday was unheard of, instead shifts usually lasted from 12 to 16 hours. Someone even worked to his death after a 34 hour shift! I belive these statistics are inhuman and inexcusable. An Apple product is not important and worthy enough to take some innocent worker’s life. Furthermore supposedly only 32% of Apple’s suppliers follow their codes and regulations, but Apple won’t disclose the other 68% suppliers’ names. These suppliers may be deceiving the auditors, but Apple seems to be turning a blind eye to these injustices and in turn deceiving their customers as well.

I am now hesitant to support Apple and purchase their products, but I also feel powerless. Apple is such a big company, so what impact will I make if I stop buying their products, while the majority of people ignore these facts and continue to support Apple? Poverty is addressed at the end of this podcast. Factories produce opportunities and jobs for people which helps fight poverty. Many workers risk losing their jobs if Apple cuts off these suppliers. However as humans, I agree we have some obligation to make sure innocent people are treated right and working in safe factories, with acceptable working conditions. I believe there definitely needs to be a change in the way Apple products are produced, but I also believe this is going to be a very complex and difficult process.