Mike Daisy’s podcast was not what I expected at all. Hearing him describe the conditions that these workers live and function in every day in China truly left me questioning my everyday life. I listened to his podcast while responding to texts on my phone, my iPhone 5. I wondered if, after finding someone tech savy enough, I could discover those four photos taken on every phone in the factory to test the camera. How could one little device used to humor my self-diagnosed ADHD cause so much pain and harm to so many people somewhere else? While I have always known of working conditions in other countries, it never felt close to home.
What really struck me was Daisy’s story about Foxcon, the electronic manufacturing company in China. The fact that armed guards were necessary outside of a factory confused me. Before the podcast the only reason I would have been able to think of for the protection was to keep the technology safe from theft, but even that seemed extreme. And what struck me even more after that one fact was the workers reactions to Daisy’s question, “What would you change if you could?” The utter bewilderment that Daisy describes on all of their faces had me pause the podcast to fully grasp what I had just heard. There are people on the other side of the world, of ages from as young as 12 years old to the elderly, who did not understand that having a choice and free will was a concept. Every American citizen grows up learning about totalitarianism and dictatorships in their history classes, but never in that example. I always thought of Kim Jong Il or Hitler, never just a factory. I realized just how incredibly jaded I was just by being born in America as opposed to a poor province of China.
The last part of Foxcon was the suicide rate of the workers. Daisy stated that Foxcon installed nets at the bottom of all of the tall buildings to prevent anymore worker suicides on company property, instead of inquiring into the mental health of its workers. The fact that these people were specifically killing themselves on site to make Foxcon look bad in something to take into account. If this story has made its way to America, to a radio show, even to a small liberal arts campus, it must mean it has enough of an impact to be worth listening to. Have the conditions changed? Does Apple still support this type of manufacturing? Or any other company for that sake? Obviously it is much cheaper and easier to turn a blind eye to these kind of working conditions, but should companies be able to do that? Should Apple, or any of the other electronic brands represented by Foxcon, share some of the blame for the worker’s conditions?