When I was growing I became fond of music, and on top of that I started to become aware of “fashion” I use this term loosely I just mean I started to care how I looked. I remember my first mp3 player I have no idea what brand it I was just happy that I could listen to music anywhere I went. Later I got first iPod touch as a high school graduation gift from a friend and instantly fell in love with their products, nevertheless I always understood they were created good products but were fairly expensive. My iPod touch was impressive I could listen to music, go on the internet, and text it was virtually a phone! I loved it. I recently did away with my android and obtained an iPhone, the iPhone is so much more convenient and I happy I made the change. My relationship with technology is similar to my relationship with clothing, all of my life I have been a sucker for good deals. My favorite shopping venues are outlets of any sort, Marshalls, and Ross. They specialize in cheap clothing, I have often heard that they are able to get this cheap clothing because they receive inventory that might have some minor defect that the average customer cannot notice but is evident to the manufacturer.
I think my story is similar to many others, I mean who doesn’t like apple technology or technology in general? Or who doesn’t like nice name brand cheap clothing? However, Daisey inspired a question in me is my happiness the result of someone else’s misfortune? I mean maybe this question would not be as hard if we received products from workers in China for the necessities in life, the things in life that are essential for survival. But that isn’t the case for me the extra things in my life like my iPhone and cheap clothing are the result of some exploited worker. It is hard to hear this because it such an alarming truth and it either causes people to ignore it and go about living their life or go against the norms and do something about the injustice in China and the corporations benefiting from them.
I find myself in that boat, I know it’s wrong but what am I to do? Should I give away my iPhone and give it to someone else? Should I check all my clothes and see which were made in harsh unjust conditions and give them away? It seems too tedious of a process; I feel this is not only my sentiment but the vast majority of many Americans. In this case I think “ignorance is bliss”.
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6 responses »

  1. laf024 says:

    Your dilemma is faced by many people in our culture today. I think it’s good to bring it up because really there is no answer to your question. If everyone gave up their iPhones, there would be no demand for them. So what do we do about the injustice? I think there has to be a different approach to voice concerns, although I can’t think of one just yet. It is definitely a good question to raise; how can we change the unjust working conditions in other countries?
    I also like your comparison of fashion to technology. I feel like most people probably have the same feeling, even if they don’t know it. Most people are concerned about what they look like, or about their reputation. Clothing is one way to fix that, but so is technology. In this day and age it’s all about the newest technology and owning the next great thing. If you think about this realization, it’s sad how materialistic or world has become. So then there’s the question, how do you shift society’s mindset to be less materialistic?

  2. wmw014 says:

    Changing the unjust working conditions in other countries is no easy feat. In my opinion, I think our generation is the first to be exposed to such a globalized, interconnected world where there are infinite injustices occurring in the work place. With that said, I think that it is realistic to think that through what our generation has seen and learned over the past twenty years will better enable us to offer realistic solutions to these issues. I think the first step that can be taken in order to alleviate these injustices is to somehow increase the connection between the manufacturers and consumers of the product. As of now, that connection does not exist and a result consumers are completely obliviously to the conditions under which their products are made. Hence, if this connection is made it should make more people aware and concerned which would pressure large corporations, such as Apple, to take better measures to ensure that there are adequate working conditions in their manufacturers’ factories.

  3. lwt003 says:

    I understand your dilemma, and questions like those certainly stir up emotion in people everywhere but I am quick to admit that I am not ashamed about buying these products. China is a developing nation and this manufacturing phase is common throughout most nations during this stage. Europe’s and our industrial revolutions were filled with horrendous working conditions that would far surpass conditions at Foxconn. This is not an excuse to let China’s working conditions go unchecked, but it is clear that they are making progress. As we read in one of the Foxconn articles, they are raising wages and bettering conditions in response to public outcry. In my view, with every iPod, TV, or other consumer electronic product bought, China comes one step closer to becoming a developed nation with a powerful middle class.

    • Jordi says:

      The idea that there are “natural” stages to development and that exploitation is “normal” growing pains is not uncommon. However, I think it is worth questioning if it is inevitable or necessary. I am leery of using a kind of pop social darwinisim that explains away the huge range of choices that can be made by individuals, organizations, governments and societies. A parallel argument in politics woudl say you must have bloody wars to realize revolutions. Well, so far, Tunisia and Egypt avoided that while Libya and Syria are experiencing it.

      Overall, though, a more robust middle class in China that can advocate for improvements to its ruling institutions sounds like it is good for Chinese people and for the world.

  4. ajc028 says:

    Your dilemma is one that most people go through at some point or another, simply because there is no right answer. Say, for instance, the United States followed the idea that we should all throw away our iPhones until wages were raised, and children were taken out of the workplace. What then? If Foxconn needed to raise all of their wages, they would almost certainly fire some of their workers. After all, they need to retain a profit. So then there would be people making no income at all. With a company of upwards of a million employees, a 10% cut would leave more than 100,000 people without jobs. It is an issue that does not have a quick solution, which is why for so many people, like you said, opt out for ignorant bliss.

  5. srp008 says:

    You’ve hit a note that not many American really even think about. I’d say our generation has been on the forefront of what is morally just and what isn’t. You’ve also presented some difficult questions to answer. I’m sure if you checked ALL of your clothing you can trace it back to some sweatshop in Southeast Asia. However, I don’t think that justifies you throwing away all of your clothes and wearing hemp as some sign of protest. Although our society has become increasingly materialistic, greedy, and competitive, it is those who are aware that have the upper hand. At this point, I think it is impossible to go through life without using an everyday product or service that has “outsourced” written all over it. From the clothes you wear to the food you eat, an exploited person has either picked, stitched, or transported these goods. It is almost an unrealistic notion for one person to change the world and not use any products made that way. However, we’d all be doing a heck of a lot more for our own moral code if we continue to learn and become aware of what we’re holding and how it got into our hands.

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