Made by people*


I doubt that I was the only person to pause the podcast just a minute in to ask Siri where she was manufactured.  Maybe it makes me a cynic—I didn’t really believe the story the guy was telling.  But then it turns out that I have reason to feel that way when I have the conversation I had with her.  She was in denial.  Even after I made it clear that I wanted to know where she was manufactured, she again, only tells me she was designed in California (conversation pasted below).  This conversation went on for a few minutes.  Then I realized I was getting mad at something with absolutely no emotions.  We use these things and they make us happy (and frustrated), but technology itself is emotionless.  However, Mike Daisey reminds us that the people who make these things do, in fact, have emotions, and it is time someone takes notice of them.  However, I highly doubt I will see “Made by people” replacing “Made in China” on the back of an electronic device anytime soon.

               It is appropriate that I am writing this on the day that something miraculous happened.  Only in my wildest dreams could something like this occur— I get a text message from my dad.  At 53, he is in his 30th year running his own business, but he is only in his 6th year of knowing how to open his emails.  He does not own a laptop, has a nokia flip phone, and is right there with the big group of senior citizens in central PA who is constantly complaining that our local newspaper is going to an online edition and cutting its paper edition to just 3 days per week.  But tonight, when I opened my phone and read, “What time is Bu gm 2mrw night?” I was kind of in shock.  It made me realize that this world seems to be moving on the technology train on a one-way track, and you can either hop on or be left behind.  It is for this exact reason that I wonder if Daisey’s and other similar reports will ever provoke any meaningful change.

               As great as listening to Daisey was, it was almost as interesting to listen to his audience.  His humor brought deafening laughter.  But more strikingly, his vivid recollections of the hardships, for lack of a better word, that these workers had to deal with had the audience so silent you could hear it.  I would have blended in nicely with that audience.  I can only speak for myself, but I really believe that if more people were made aware of this story, and ones like it, a difference might be made.  The only issue is that Apple and these other companies are continuing to get bigger. But the question I pose is: will growing bigger give them a larger shield to hide these problems behind, or will growing bigger make their problems bigger and more exposed?

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8 thoughts on “Made by people*

  1. I loved your notion, even if hypothetical and in jest, that one day products will just say made by people. While it may be far off I think that it does point towards the one track mindedness that you mentioned and I believe that it would be interesting to see what kind of culture would be behind this mindset.

  2. Love this post. My parents are technologically challenged as well haha. I actually hadn’t tried to have that conversation with Siri until I read your post. The first thing she told me was that she was made in California. When I repeatedly asked her she began to say “No comment”. A response like that definitely makes me suspicious–she responds in the likeness of a celebrity avoiding commenting on a scandalous situation. On another note, I definitely think that if this story was on Good Morning America, or other top news shows, it would definitely make a difference. Who knows, maybe I’ll trade in my iPhone for an Android after all.

  3. Your last paragraph stood out to me the most. I hadn’t thought about how effective it was to have them their to participate and to respond. When I first read that we had a podcast, I was excited that I could go to the gym and simply listen to the homework – much better than fumbling around with a textbook. I’ve always enjoyed audio books, but the monologue felt like a true story because it wasn’t only about my emotions and reactions. I was included in this bigger audience and was more affected by both their chatter and silence. I was unaware of how interesting close I felt to this unkown audience until I read your post. Again, technology is that umbilical cord that ties humans and differing ideas together.

    • I’m glad to see someone else took notice of the audience, as well. I think the most interesting comment you made was that you felt “included”. I felt the same way, as if I could see the pain on everybody’s faces when Daisey talked about the atrocities at the factories. I wonder how much the storytelling effect may have on the truth of all of Daisey’s stories and claims.

  4. To address your sendoff question, “will growing bigger give them a larger shield to hide these problems behind, or will growing bigger make their problems bigger and more exposed?”, I believe growing bigger will only further shield them from any bad publicity. When you have a company that is as big as Apple and has the following they do, bad press isn’t going to effect them that much. Even with the possible human rights violations occurring at their manufacturer’s plant, people still purchase their product. It gets to a point where people just covet something and have no regard for where or how it was made.

  5. I did the same exact thing as you with Siri, its pretty absurd they have their products hardwired to hide the painful reality.

  6. I think that makes you a skeptic, to check Siri. Not a cynic. Cynicism is to doubt the intentions or stated good will of others. If Apple says “we programmed Siri that way to not confuse our customers,” and you believe them, then maybe you are gullible. If you don’t, then maybe you are neither gullible, nor skeptical, nor cynical, but realistic. If Apple says “we will improve conditions at Foxconn” and you think “no company will ever do anything to help its workers,” that is the cynicisim that Trevino and Nelson (and me) worry about.

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