Macs in the Garden of Eden


One of the most striking things I took away from the podcast was Mike Daisey’s comparison of being an Apple enthusiast to religion. Apple is the basis for his entire lifestyle- it informs his hobbies, his habits, and obviously how he works and communicates. Reading about Apple is like his version of going to church; it confirms and perpetuates his passion. He even confesses, “I did sleep with a Windows system or two,” as if it were a sin. Most importantly, his complete faith in Apple caused him not to probe too deeply in case he was to come across something that would challenge his reverence.

I hope not to offend anyone with this statement, but I think it’s fair to say that in this metaphor, Mike Daisey experienced fell victim to the danger of religion, if we assume religion is based entirely on faith and passion rather than logic, reason, and the observable or discernable truth. This is what often frustrates me about my friends who are religious- although I respect their prerogative to believe what they will, I personally feel incapable of believing anything that can’t be proven or explained, and I can’t buy into something on blind faith.

Some things can make someone question their religious faith; crises like a loved one dying or some other tragic event occurring where you question how your God could let that happen. I would liken this crisis to Daisey finding out about these less-than-stellar working conditions at FoxConn. He chooses to respond by actively embracing this uncertainty and investigating, and this is where I think the metaphor struggles. There is no possible way to truly confirm or disconfirm religion. This is also why I think that brand loyalty (or even brand obsession), although potentially toxic, is not fatal. If a consumer is presented with a high enough volume or severity of information that belies the halo he places on a certain brand, I believe that he can and will betray his allegiance to unethical brands. Activists hoping to inspire collective action should focus, then, on awareness- to make the firm believers face a reality they never wanted to hear, just as Mike did. Although it seems that his faith was shaken but not shattered, I think it’s enough that he did question it, investigate, and is now certainly more hesitant in his Apple piety.

*Edited on 9/28/14 for style*

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3 responses to “Macs in the Garden of Eden

  1. I think your response to this podcast is really intelligent. When listening to Daisey I did not think that about how his whole investigation fit back into his “religion”. I was wondering if you feel that you are a part of this Apple religion? I know I do and after reading your blog it made me feel even worse about the conditions in Shenzhen. I am just another “follower” if I keep purchasing the Apple products and supporting their actions. I think myself and mike Daisey need to truly think about whether or not our morals support a religion that is treating people so horribly.

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  2. The comparison by Daisey between Apple and a religion was something that stood out to me as well. The specific comparison that I found very interesting was when Daisey talked about how the worst thing that can happen (from the perspective of religious leaders) is when followers begin to ask questions and uncover the truth. For the majority of Apple users we go about our lives happy and naïve, not even questioning how the purchasing of our technology shapes and affects the lives of people halfway around the world. But when people like Daisey reveal the truth about the origin of these products, it spreads. And hopefully this news becomes widespread enough that Apple users as a collective whole can begin to put pressure on the company for change and improved manufacturing conditions.

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  3. I agree. I think that Daisy’s point was to inspire us to question everything in order to improve the way we think about anything. If you question religion, maybe you can discover the scientific or logical explanations for things you had accepted as being the work of God. If you question Apple, that awareness might eventually spread and be enough to pressure Apple to change in order to satisfy its customers and maintain brand affinity and loyalty. Although I don’t consider myself a religious devotee to Apple, I certainly feel that I can’t escape its influence at this point, and I will probably continue to give them my business for the sake of the social and technological experience it gives me.

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