The product without which I feel I could not happily live is definitely my iPhone. With it, I’m able to keep in touch with friends who no longer live near me and make plans with those who do. It also allows me to keep my schedule in order, with alarm clock and calendar apps. In just seconds, I can have any fact at my fingertips. In short, it makes my life as a student a lot more comfortable and connected…. but at what cost?
According to Shanghaidaily.com, this year, after having their classes suspended, students in China were forced to work at a Foxconn plant in order to develop the iPhone 5. The company, who was reportedly in desperate need of workers, was quoted as paying their student-turned-workers the equivalent of just over 240 American dollars. Evidentially, the students and their parents at no point signed off on this agreement. It seems that in order for North American students and the like to have the privilege and comfort of the new iPhone, it is at the cost of the privilege and comfort of many students of eastern China.
Regardless of the majors of these students, they were all put into the same type of factory assignment under the guise of “work experience.” In this way, the students were, in the eyes of the corporation, identical working copies of one another, as opposed to individual students with the ability to think differently. At discovering this atrocity, I was immediately struck by the similarity to Dick’s novel. In this case, I unfortunately might compare the students of China to the androids. These androids, though almost indistinguishable from humans, are forced to work as slaves for whatever will their human owner has. Likewise, though those forced to work at Foxconn are students just as we are here in North America, due to the country in which they live, injustices such as forced labour and deprived education have been allowed to take place. Similar to the androids, who are killed when they attempt to flee their captive planet, students who tried to leave the factory were reportedly punished as well.
I would hope that unlike the fate of the androids though, the students might be freed from their forced labour as media makes the rest of the world aware of their unjust situation. In the past, iPhone has been forced to change their practices as a result of public disapproval, and it is likely that this would occur again here, if it hasn’t already.
But if you’re wondering if I’m going to stop using my iPhone in protest, as I imagine would be a shared response with most iPhone users: no, probably not. In contrast, perhaps the iPhone itself could be used as a weapon in sharing this media around the globe and deliver the change that these students need.