Do We Blame Apple, Or Ourselves?

My experience listening to this podcast was in a way, very similar to that of Mike Daisey as he explored the Foxconn factory: I was very much aware of Apple’s Foxconn scandal, yet Daisey’s journey to Foxconn opened my eyes to the harsh realities and atrocities behind the press coverage. Hearing statistics such as number of employees, alongside the average shift duration, (12-14+ hours), was appalling.  What was interesting for me was that as I listened to the podcast on my Macbook Pro, with my iPhone sitting beside; I started to mentally deconstruct each device and imagine them being made in the Foxconn plant.  Listening to Mike Daisey describe the labor-intense process that goes into each device made me think much deeper about the pieces of technology I posses:  Daisey describes how Foxconn not only has contracts with Apple, but also with major tech-giants like Microsoft, Sony, and Hewlett-Packard to name a few.  Taking a different approach to this podcast, I thought mostly about how we as consumers, and citizens of a global community fit into the Foxconn-Apple narrative.

Upon hearing the podcast, I researched the media coverage of the ‘Foxconn Scandal’, when the atrocities at the Foxconn factories were originally brought to light.  During the periods of high media coverage in 2010 and 2012, Apple’s stock price only grew.  Daisey alludes to the idea of Apple as a religion in the beginning of his excerpt, and it is a fact which I believe is key in the perpetuation of this narrative at Foxconn.  Arguably Daisey’s most powerful quote is when he states “Do you really think Apple doesn’t know?”  This speaks to the notion that Apple, a company that is resolute in its standards for quality and control over the design of their products, would not be fully aware of the production processes taking place.  While Dailey’s words are powerful, they are not necessarily surprising.  Apple, and the other tech-companies employing Foxconn, undoubtedly know the atrocities which occur in Foxconn factories.  What we as consumers have shown Apple in particular, is that so long as Apple turns a blind eye, we as consumers shall do the same.  

In talking about the Apple religion, Daisey states that one of the most dangerous things to any religion is ‘when people think’. Looking at your Macbook Pro, or iPhone and thinking deeply about how the product was made.   As consumers in this age of transparency, we are granted the ability to make decisions with access to information.  There is a disparity between the reactions to hearing stories at Foxconn, and our reactions to hearing the latest Apple product or ad.  Thus the obsession with Apple products is arguably unhealthy, as it contributes in part to a culture in which a company can make brutally unethical decisions, and receive positive feedback from consumers and retain stringent brand loyalty.



9 thoughts on “Do We Blame Apple, Or Ourselves?”

  1. Great post Jack! I too found it ironic that as I was listening to the podcast and reflecting about how awful the Foxconn factory is that I was using my Apple computer and had my iPhone right next to me. I think your emphasis on Apple turning a blind eye as well as their consumers is very important and shows a lot about peoples’ priorities in today’s day and age. What will it take for Apple to address this issue or will it just never be resolved..


  2. I think you and I had very similar reactions to this episode of This American Life in finding society and ourselves as consumers to be at fault. I think Apple is one of the most exposed companies in terms of its labor regulations, and I really identified with your ending statement, “Thus the obsession with Apple products is arguably unhealthy, as it contributes in part to a culture in which a company can make brutally unethical decisions”.


  3. I found your post to be very interesting and thought-provoking. In my post I touched upon some of the small things Daisy suggested Apple could do to change the working conditions in places such as Foxconn. I never stopped to think, however, that we, the consumers, may have a much bigger impact on the situation than we may realize. When you related Apple to a religion and stated that one of the most dangerous things that can happen to a religion is when people start to think, I began to think about what would happen if a majority Apple’s cult-like following began to question Apple’s ethics. Would they be forced to make changes and sacrifice a bit of efficiency or would they continue to turn a blind eye and potentially lose once loyal customers?


  4. I completely agree with your comment in stating that “As consumers in this age of transparency, we are granted the ability to make decisions with access to information.” Yet, I find that even though we are granted this ability we choose not to make the decision to focus on the negative aspects of the corporation on others, but rather, the positive benefit we receive from being their consumers. And, ironically, it is the consumers who have ultimately have the power to change the way these corporations such as Apple negatively effect such stakeholders.


  5. This is something I wanted to address as well. I think consumerism, and the desire for new Apple product, unfortunately blinds much of society to the costs at which these new devices often come. I agree that Apple has definitely created an unhealthily loyal fanbase that often turns the other way to some of Apple’s doings.


  6. I too felt bad while listening to the Podcast on my Macbook. You did a great job of bringing up that we as consumers are also prompting the mistreatment of workers through our purchases. We, like Apple, are doing nothing. It truly is eye opening to see those words in front of our faces.


  7. I agree with your statement that our obsession with Apple products is unhealthy and untested. I think that there is a certain degree of “blind consumerism” that occurs with the loads of unexamined information about companies. Do you think that a movement for consumers to make smart/educated buying decisions is realistic? I don’t think even clear evidence against a company like Apple would reach the many committed consumers of its products, while it maintains its current position in the minds of the masses.


  8. Great and interesting post to read. What most struck me was that even as this scandal was reported, Apples stock only grew. I believe this greatly demonstrates the obsession in our consumerist society that we have for our Apple products and how truly blinded we are by the damage it causes others. If we choose to ignore the truth and still support an organization greatly inflicting others, when will we disown our obsession for the well-being of others?


  9. While listening to the podcast on my MacBook Pro with my iPhone next to me, I also thought about the hardships that those workers went through to build these products for my use. However, even after listening to all the horrible things that happens to the FoxConn factory workers, I didn’t throw away my iPhone or MacBook out of disgust towards Apple for what they made their workers go through, but instead continued to do my homework on my laptop and use my phone. You touched on the Apple religion as well, which makes me wonder if people are so obsessed with Apple that virtually nothing can stop them from buying their products. If factories whose conditions are so horrible that workers would rather commit suicide than continue to work there isn’t enough to make consumers stop buying Apple products, then what would make consumers stop buying Apple?


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