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The true cost of technology

I love my iPad. My husband gave it to me two years ago after I had ankle surgery, and it rescued me from boredom. However, it’s an older model: an iPad 2 with 16 gigs.

Lately, I’ve watched the memory disappear and that makes me anxious. I’m down to 3 gigs thanks to my magazine apps, my movie and TV apps, my writing apps, and the scores of other apps I download to make my life easier. Ahem.

I fear the day when it drops to zero.

Do I need a newer iPad? A 32 gig? I saw a play recently—“The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” by Mike Daisey—that begs me to deny myself an upgrade. And a New York Times article claims the factory in China where iPads and iPods are assembled is killing its employees. That should certainly make me think twice before chucking out more money for a new iPad.

National Public Radio aired an excerpt of Daisey’s monologue on “This American Life,” but retracted the episode when it received criticism that the author’s work failed journalistic standards.

Daisey countered: “I stand by my work. My show is a theatrical piece whose goal is to create a human connection between our gorgeous devices and the brutal circumstances from which they emerge. …I am proud that my work seems to have sparked a growing storm of attention and concern over the often appalling conditions under which many of the high-tech products we love so much are assembled in China.”

I encourage you to read the New York Times article, In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad, outlining the atrocities if you care about human working conditions. It’s long, but eye opening.

Apple is not the only culprit. “Every major electronics manufacturer uses the same inhumane labor practices” to create their products, an information sheet handed me after the play asserted.

Technology is here to stay. I won’t give up mine. Will you? But we should think more cautiously about upgrading to the latest and greatest tablet or phone when they hit the market. Is a 32-gig iPad worth another suicide in China? Not to me.

Terri Lackey is managing editor of Gather magazine.

Comment (1)
Inez Torres Davis says:
Jan 31, 2013

Thanks, Terri! You are so very right and the cost to human life and our shared future on this planet is not limited to electronics, either. We need to re-cycle, re-use, re-purpose as much as we can!

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