Seriously conflicted about the iPhone 4s

October 13, 2011 · 47 comments

I’ve been tracking the delivery of my iPhone 4s like a hawk. In fact, it should be getting dropped off at my door in the next few hours. I’ve been rockin’ the iPhone 3G like a boss for over three years now — longest I’ve ever had one phone — and it’s time for an upgrade. The 3G is more frustrating than it is helpful, it’s that slow. I’ve been drooling over the 4s ever since it was announced, but now I’m sitting here thinking I should return it.

Although I often second guess myself (due to extreme bouts of frugality) that is actually NOT the reason I’m conflicted today. No, it’s something much worse. I was reading the news yesterday and happened upon a story about how/where iPhones are made. I. Was. Shocked. Here’s the first few paragraphs from that story…

Normally, the launch of a new Apple device such as the iPhone 4S would make Mike Daisey salivate. But not this year.

Daisey, a monologuist in the vein of Spalding Gray and a recovering “Apple fanboy,” has not upgraded his phone since flying to China to investigate how those smooth, beautifully designed hand-held gizmos are made.

What he found was horrific labor conditions, impossibly long hours and the use of crippling, repetitive motions. He met very young factory workers whose joints in their hands were damaged because they performed the same action thousands of times a shift.

“I was woefully ignorant most of my life. Even though I love the devices deeply, I never had any idea how they were made and never thought about it in the least,” says Daisey, who had assumed robots put together his iPad and iPhone.

Seriously!? I mean just yesterday I said these exact words in my post about Occupy Wall Street: “You think Bank of America is going to stop charging that $5 debit card fee if you say “I hate you Bank of America” while you’re swiping it at the grocery store? Not a chance. You have to say “I hate you Bank of America” and start banking somewhere else. Empty threats are a waste of oxygen.”

Here’s what that statment should look like today: “You think Apple is going to stop engaging in unethical business practices if you say “I hate you Apple” while you’re tweeting from your iPhone? Not a chance. You have to say “I hate you Apple” and start tweeting somewhere else. Empty threats are a waste of oxygen.”

How the hell can I in good conscience buy an iPhone? If I do, I am essentially enabling/encouraging Apple to continue doing what they’re doing; contracting work out to sketchy technology manufacturers. The only way to make it clear that I don’t support unfair labor practices is to vote with my dollar, and not purchase Apple products.

But I love Apple products. In our house alone we have two iPads, two Macbooks, a Mac Mini, two iPhones, and a handful of old iPods. The iPhone 4s is arguably the best phone to have ever existed and I would want nothing more than to own one. But at what cost? At the cost of someone’s well-being? No, I guess I don’t need a new phone that bad.

I want to keep the iPhone so, so, so bad, but after reading this article can’t figure out a way to justify the purchase. The worst thing I could do is say “Man, Apple is involved in some shady business, but the phone is cool enough I’ll pretend I never heard the bad stuff.”

Am I the only person that’s just now hearing about these inhumane work conditions? Why are people willing to compromise their moral/ethical beliefs just so they can have a cool phone? If you are getting (or already have) an iPhone (or similar device), how do you reconcile the information from this report with your desire to own an Apple product? (I seriously believe everyone that has an Apple product has a moral obligation to answer those questions)


p.s. on a much less depressing note I had my first media mention in a published media outlet. If you head to your local grocery store and pick up a copy of this month’s Readers Digest, you’ll notice on page 55 there is a brief reference to myself and my blog (so what if the article is about foam mattress toppers). I found out last night, Readers Digest is the fifth most circulated publication in the world. Pretty sure that means it’s time for me to write a book… right? Took a pic of the article ’cause I was so excited….