Being an engineer, I have a natural affinity to technology, like Mike Daisy. I became an engineer because I wanted to bring new tech to life, because I love hearing about how every day, radical new entrepreneurial and engineering zeal has brought us the next big thing, because the possibilities are, quite literally, endless. That and a small pretty big part of me dreamed of being Tony Stark. But we all know the feeling of what a perfectly designed, user-centric device can bring to us, how a 4″x2″ rectangular block of aluminum with perfectly rounded corners, a handful of buttons, and a microchip the size of our fingernail but with more computing power than human brain can actually change the way we function as a society. Add to that some savvy marketing and it’s hard not to get caught in the sheer awesomeness and coolness of living the Apple lifestyle.

But like all champions of modern society, to quote Batman (again, see nerd): “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” In the dark corners of our heart we despise Apple for being the best company in the world and doing what they do to us. And we all know that working in China sucks. And everyone and their mother knows that every major player the electronics industry makes all our fancy, nifty shit over there. So when some guy, who just happens to be a huge nerd himself, comes along and tells us that Apple, his god on earth, is actually the devil in disguise, we all remember the transitive property and start foaming at the mouth. Labor Reform! Down with Apple! America to the Rescue!… Sound familiar?

Don’t get me wrong, it was a brilliant narrative. I mean, just listen to the guy. Perfect story-telling: he sets scenery like out of a novel, he’s emotional, he’s dramatic; he makes you feel like you were actually there, witnessing every atrocity known to mankind since the Industrial Revolution.  And he tells the story so well, that you buy into its message, hiding in plain sight through the jokes, the horror stories, and everything in between. So much so, that you almost forget to check the facts. Facts like how it is actually more economical and prosperous for the country to make parts by hand; it costs less and provides work to millions of starving citizens. Facts like how diligent Apple is in inspecting its facilities and how it stays true to its mission, how it also one of the best companies in the world to work for. Oh, and here’s one: the fact that Mike Daisy LIED about almost everything he saw.

That’s right; Mike Daisy made up the whole shebang. Foxcon guards don’t carry guns, he never met an underage worker, his translator even admitted that he never met a guy with a crippled, contorted hand from using hexane. What Mike Daisy did was freak out over some photos he saw on the Internet and began spewing a sea of lies. He lied to Chinese factory owners about being an auditor, he lied to his translator about the true nature of his mission, and he lied to the world for years about what he saw. What he did see was a factory setting that hit him the wrong way, and he “dramatized” it to try and send a message. And in so doing, disrupted everything. Good intentions gone entirely the wrong way through deceitful means. The only thing this did was fire up the American public, only to disappoint them and cause them to doubt everything again; if anything, he probably hurt labor reform, not help it. So before you go jumping to conclusions and judging everything, ask yourself this: What are the facts?

Advertisements

3 responses »

  1. lwt003 says:

    I was surprised reading your post about how Mike Daisey lied, yet with a quick google search it was easily verified (http://www.thisamericanlife.org/blog/2012/03/retracting-mr-daisey-and-the-apple-factory).

    That being said, I believe the public needs to take a step back from immediately vilifying large corporations and give them a fairer trial. I am sure many listeners were angered by Apple and Foxconn after hearing Mr. Daisey and never thought for a second that the corporations were actually truthfully dismissing Mr. Daisey’s claims. Whenever a company is accused of anything bad, it’s as if we all forget that they provide so much good to the world and that there is always another side to the story.

  2. mbc014 says:

    Thanks for your support, that’s really all I was going for. People tend to see a story like this and assume it just verifies the lingering image they have in their heads of sweatshops and any other stereotype you can find in industrial criticisms. But what they don’t realize is, while it seems brutal that everything is made by human labor in China, it has provided millions of jobs in a developing economy, that has significantly increased their quality of life and consumerism. In turn, in developed nations like the USA, Apple has provided us with breakthrough technologies that make it even easier to connect. Think of how many tech startups exploded from the ability to use open-source software or create apps or improvements to our phone software, of how people use this technology to aid those in developing countries and how they, in turn, become entrepreneurs. And like you mentioned, think of all the philanthropy and other good works Apple does as well. News stories like this tend to hit you like a bombshell, but if you take a step back and really think about it, we are all the better for it.

  3. cjt017 says:

    It’s interesting I heard that he lied too, but a question I ask myself is am I trying to defend my self-made god? I say this because i was instantly relieved once i heard this, i bet most of us were. You can see it in your argument when you said Apple is not wrong because every other company is doing the same thing, does that make any sense? Hypothetically speaking what if Apple did drastically change its position in foreign countries, could they as a leader in technology sway others to do the same?
    I think a big part of the reason why we don’t want this to be true is so that we go back to our self-centered world not at all thinking how the fancy gadgets that we have are constructed. My point here is if there is even a hint of truth in the conditions in foreign workplaces doesn’t it require out utmost attention? But, we are content to put this issue behind us so we can enjoy our idols without feeling guilty.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s