Why aren’t we ashamed of our electronics’ “Phone Stories”?

Low-wage workers
I’m a bit late to the party, but here I go anyway.

Backstory: Gamasutra interviewed Molleindustria‘s Paolo Pedercini last week about their latest game, Phone Story, which follows the true story of the manufacture and distribution of iDevices, from child labor and low-wage overseas production to poisonings and suicides and more. Although it was carefully designed to pass all the App Store’s specific rules and regulations, Apple quickly pulled the game from the store under the violation of its “excessively objectionable and crude content” clause and the violation of depicting child abuse. Phone Story is still available on the Android Market and will likely continue to exist there.

I’m curious how readers feel about Pedercini’s comparing smartphones and similar goods to fur coats, cigarettes, SUVs, and other items that were once cool but are now “not-that-cool.” According to Pedercini, today’s “technological lust,” how people feel they need to own all of the latest gadgets to be cool or modern, should be put into check, so consumers are more aware of what they’re buying and the suffering they’re supporting to stay current.

Personally, I agree with the sentiment. Until electronics manufacturing comes stateside and with good working conditions, these items shouldn’t be necessities for the tragically modern. Owning every latest phone, tablet, and laptop should be embarrassing, not cool.

When I’ve brought this up to tech geeks in the past, they’ve typically become defensive or dismissive. But it’s real. And I understand that these types of tragedies are in most manufacturing verticals and they don’t belong to just one company, but I feel our technology consumption is something we can control pretty easily compared to other consumption categories.

What do you think? Is it okay to feed demand for these goods so strongly? Why is it so easy for our generation to shrug off the “Phone Story” of our gadgets, especially when we paint ourselves as such activists? Why aren’t we ashamed?

3 Responses to “Why aren’t we ashamed of our electronics’ “Phone Stories”?”

  1. I remember reading about the phone factories an how they were built like prisons. The employees work and live on site in the giant structures and they are mostly kids who never made it out of high school. They work 12 hours a day in the factories only to retire to their tiny dorm rooms. The ones that don’t get harmed in the dangerous factories would often throw themselves off the top of the buildings or commit suicide in some other way. They are paid just enough to survive.

    This is very obviously not ok and a horrible problem that is well covered up by these tech giants. When you think about it, it fits American culture perfectly. My generation can never truly understand or be touched by this article. We will talk about it in bars and have arm chair protests that are purely to boost our own egos.

  2. Technology and consumerism is a huge factor in global politics. This article is relevant to this conversation. I was alerted to this via the BBC2 Documentary All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace. It is about the Playstation Wars in the Congo.

    http://gamepolitics.com/2008/07/11/report-rare-metal-fueled-african-quotplaystation-warquot

  3. Thanks for the link, Nathan. I still have that video you sent me open in a tab, but I haven’t watched it yet. Saving things in tabs is really counterproductive for me and I should stop doing that. I’ll watch tonight.

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