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?