What Really Lies Behind Your Screen


Apple consumers can usually sum up their experience with their new gadgets with one word…obsession. The company has grown a network of users that are loyal to the brand, and form apple loving communities. Customers are usually tech-savy, smart, and even geeky. But at the same time, Mike Daisey’s podcast says differently. These people are completely ignorant of the terrible processes that gives them their shiny new toys.
    By transforming himself into a amateur touristy reporter, Mike Daisey recovered the awful truth. 430,000 Chinese factory workers at a electronic producing company called FoxConn are underpaid, brainwashed, exploited, harmed, and even killed by their employer. This is all done in the process of providing Americans with electronics labeled ‘Made in China’.  Several things about the podcast struck me. For one, the severity of the working conditions was disgusting. I could not help but cringe when Daisey pointed out that many workers praised the chemical n-hexane which cleaned iPhone screens faster than alcohol, but also caused trembling hands. Daisy also pointed out the endless motions that workers repeated hour after hour causing their joints to disintegrate. Not only were workers left with disabled hands, but they were also paid minimum wage and often worked 14 hours a day.     
    Daisey’s tone also highlighted the horrors of FoxConn’s use of child labor, and their willingness to brush misdemeanors under the rug when auditors came around. This raised the question, do you think Apple really doesn’t know?Something must be done. Apple claims to send oversight committees to analyze conditions and force compliance with protections. But how could something so awful still be going on? I agree with Daisey’s simpler solution; the rotation of workers. This would save their hands and maybe even prolong their lives. However, action will not be taken unless Apple takes a more sincere interest. They must recognize the problem first hand and listen to the voices of humanity rather than economists who claim that consumers should not feel weird about the turmoil behind their flashy screens. Enforcing protection is a feasible task and these tragedies are avoidable.
    As I write this, I cannot help but feel guilty as I look down at my shiny white key board. Just how many hands before my own grazed this surface? How many people suffered so that I could have the ability to type?foxconn-2612c9ae1e3a4bbb9b3496890fa153dd66697f9b-s6-c30

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8 thoughts on “What Really Lies Behind Your Screen”

  1. You brought up the almost total disinterest towards the lives of the workers very well in your blog post. Especially considering n-hexane dries only slightly faster at the cost of neurological damage to workers, if either legislative or consumer based demands aren’t created, the conditions of workers will not improved.

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  2. I felt the same pain of guilt when I was typing my blog after listening to Mike Daisey on the podcast. You have to wonder what type of horrible conditions the people that manufactured our laptops were exposed too. That being said, I think the only way to make Apple seriously address this problem is to have as many people as possible realize what is actually happening at Foxconn. The podcast did a great job of raising our awareness, and hopefully it can have the same effect on lots of other people too.

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  3. I really connected with your comment in saying, “As I write this, I cannot help but feel guilty as I look down at my shiny white key board. Just how many hands before my own grazed this surface? How many people suffered so that I could have the ability to type?” It really highlights the ignorance of the majority of Apple consumers, and the sad reality that they/we are perpetuating the injustices of the working conditions in such Chinese factories which make our beloved products.

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  4. I think you take an interesting approach on this post. In the beginning it seems to be accusatory of iPhone lovers (I myself being a huge one). And it really hit home how, in the last paragraph, you state, “I cannot help but feel guilty as I look down at my shiny white keyboard”. It’s true, we have all fallen victim to the obsession that is Apple, but will anything ever get us to break the addiction? Is finding out the disgusting reality behind our beloved toys enough to make people boycott and return to life before Apple?

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  5. I like the questions you raise in the last lines of your post- “Just how many hands before my own grazed this surface? How many people suffered so that I could have the ability to type?” I looked down at my own iPhone and my stupid cracked screen. Even after listening to the podcast, I still hadn’t connected my iPhone with the workers who created it. A dozen Chinese laborers inside Foxconn must have touched it. Am I personally responsible for their suffering as a result of owning my phone? It feels like a joke that my screen is cracked considering all the effort that when into the preparation of the product. I feel a little bit of guilt owning my Apple products, but even more, I am angry at Apple for sanctioning the conditions that brought it about in the first place.

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  6. Your last few sentences really struck me. It is depressing to think about the suffering that went into making my iPhone. It is also alarming that a company that puts up nets to prevent suicide is even able to reach that point, and able to continue operating once they do reach that point.

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  7. I completely agree that no action will be done to better the working conditions unless Apple takes a more sincere interest in the health of the workers. However, if Apple’s consumers have shown to still buy Apple products despite the knowledge of their inhumane outsourced labor, what motivation do they have to make a change?

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  8. I too was horrified by the harm inflicted on the FoxConn workers as a result of the factory working conditions. Out of all the harm inflicted on the workers, the joint deterioration stood out to me the most. I’d had past projects or assignments about what it’s like for workers to work 14 hour days in sweatshops, but I’d never come across stories of workers joints deteriorating as a result of how much and how hard they worked. With regards to the child labor, I believe that Apple and FoxConn should not be the only ones held accountable. Daisey was told that there was a process that is supposed to weed out child workers, but it seems extremely ineffective. The people/organizations in charge of finding children trying to work at the FoxConn factories need to be held accountable as well, and the process of keeping children out of the workforce needs to be revamped so that it actually does its job.

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