Social Smartphones?

I think that mobile phones, specifically smart phones that can do everything that a laptop computer can do, have had and will have the largest impact on us socially. One thing that immediately comes to mind is that essentially everyone has the power of the internet literally in the palm of their hand. I think that this may be a factor that limits us from remembering things. Since we have access to all the information that the internet holds, there is no need to remember directions, recipes, definitions etc. This is not the worst thing in the world, but it certainly makes us dependent.

Additionally, I believe that the fact that everyone also has a video camera in their pocket takes away from people simply enjoying life. For example, if one were to walk by a street performer on a city block singing a beautiful ballad, they would also see every single observer recording said ballad with their phone. I also find myself doing this a lot, trying to document the things I see with my camera phone. For example, this past semester I went to an Imagine Dragons concert in Prague, and without really noticing what I was doing I took a video of nearly every single song that was performed. Did this take away from my experience while at the concert? It may have… but it may also have been worth it, in order to re-watch the concert from my point of view at a later date.


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The Use of Technology in Social Situations


In today’s world, especially in the United States, everyone relies so heavily on technology. The question “How difficult would it be, if at all, to give up the following things in your life? Your television, Your cell phone, The Internet” really threw me off a bit. The options “very hard”, “somewhat hard”, “not too hard”, “not at all hard” are almost comical. The only option I could think of was ‘impossible.”  It would be impossible for me to live my life without these things. I think this would be true for pretty much everyone else in America.

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FaceTime to China

Screen shot 2013-10-07 at 2.48.18 PMThere must be some oxymoron when you find yourself sitting waiting on your Apple Iphone to FaceTime your Chinese teacher, in China, all the while getting questions prepared to discuss the controversial issues in which this exact device you are currently holding is made in.  Is that wrong?   Is it wrong that I didn’t even think twice about the fact that I’d be using Apple’s products to hold the interview? Continue reading

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.


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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.

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.