The human cost of technology

We are all surrounded by electronics these days.

From iPhones to Macbooks, Blackberrys to Droids, it’s virtually impossible to walk from one end of campus to another without seeing multiple people talking on, texting with or toting their cell phones and laptops.

Unfortunately, few people really think about where all of these hot new gadgets are coming from and at what expense they are being manufactured.

After reading an article in Wired Magazine, we at The Butler Collegian, were appalled to discover that 17 workers had committed suicide at the Foxconn manufacturing plant in Shenzhen, China.

We are saddened and startled by the suicides of these people after working feverishly to produce Apple products, including the iPad and iPhone.

While we found this information to be troublesome, the majority of our staff said this information would not affect their purchasing decisions about Apple products. We all agreed upon the importance of knowing where our products are coming from and under what conditions they are being manufactured, but we realize changing buying habits may not be realistic.

The conditions at the Foxconn plant were not inhumane, but workers are forced to work overtime. They even live on the factory grounds in supplied “dorm rooms” which were roughly the size of a two-car garage and housed, on average, eight workers. Workers were isolated from their families and friends, which eventually drove some workers to take their lives by jumping from the roofs of Foxconn buildings.

All buildings on the Foxconn campus have since been outfitted with nets near the bottom to catch any “jumpers.”

One worker who committed suicide left a note explaining that he jumped to provide for his family. According to Wired Magazine, soon after, “the program of remuneration for the families of jumpers was cancelled.”

In an ever-advancing technological world, we are always hungering for the latest and greatest of every product, but we think it would be valuable to take a step back and look at where our products are made from and at what cost. The workers who manufacture these devices fall victim to our technology-obsessed world because the corporations are always looking for cheaper, faster and more effective ways to mass produce this technology and get it to those who want it.

That Apple is involved in this tragic incident proves that even seemingly clean companies can be guilty of horrid business practices.

Foxconn manufactures electronics for numerous popular suppliers besides Apple, like Hewlett Packard, Acer, Asus, Dell, Sony and Microsoft.

We are victims of our own desire when it comes to the latest commodities in the U.S. We never seem to take time to research our products before buying them.

Overall, we are shocked by these 17 suicides in Shenzhen. They have, however, served as an insight into the manufacturing practices some high-power companies use today to produce their phones, computers and other in-demand technological devices.

Even after discovering this article many of us said that we would still buy Apple products, but several staff members said they would reconsider buying Apple.

We hope this convinces others to take a closer look at that must-have item and how it is made before purchasing.

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