Saturday, May 29, 2010

Media suicide watch: It’s working!

In an alarming new trend, members of the media have been killing off their own credibility at an alarming rate in an effort to help a powerful corporation downplay a string of suicides at a labor camp manufacturing facility in China. All of these media outlets are promoting the ridiculous notion that Foxconn’s suicide epidemic is not an epidemic at all, because it’s way below the national average suicide rate in China. Why are so many members of the media suddenly committing professional suicide at such an alarming rate? Some believe the media workers can no longer bear the slow death of their industry and just want to end their misery. Others blame brutal working conditions, especially for those employed by online publications. These “bloggers” and “aggregators” spend 10 to 12 hours a day chained to computer monitors, doing incredibly boring and meaningless work, for little or no pay, and are routinely abused by their managers.

The latest to join the list are:

The Times Online which says something about throwing rice into the air and how you can’t control where it lands and therefore there is no “trend” at Foxconn.

PC World which urges readers to remember that “the number of suicides [at Foxconn] is only perceived as high.”

MacDailyNews, which cites an article in People’s Daily Online, “the organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China,” which reports that “this is an instance of media hysteria and disregard for statistical facts.” Highly recommended, MacDailyNews says. Because honestly, if you can’t trust the Central Committee, who can you trust?

People’s Daily Online, which provides intelligent, straightforward on that crazy hysteria, and determines that Foxconn is not to blame.

MacDailyNews again, which headlines a story, “Why Foxconn is not really experiencing a ‘Suicide Cluster’ and Apple isn’t to blame.”

The Unofficial Apple Weblog cites Gruber claiming that Foxconn is below the national average for China.

Tom Foremski at ZDNet who points out that France Telecom had a suicide epidemic and it was way worse than the one at Foxconn.

Tom’s Hardware, which compares Foxconn to the national average and finds those lazy, cowardly slackers at Foxconn falling far behind their countrymen.

Business Insider, which compares Foxconn suicide rate to that of all 50 states in the U.S. and finds, once again, Foxconn workers coming up short.

CrunchGear, which says Foxconn is nothing compared to Cornell, where kids are killing themselves all the time, and it’s not fair to blame Foxconn for its worker suicides because Foxconn actually treats them really well so there must be some other explanation.

Gizmodo, which cites the Telegraph and says it’s performing a “fact check” on this crazy notion that there’s a suicide problem at Foxconn. Again: media, not Foxconn, to blame.

Mashable, which repeats the claim about Foxconn being below the national average and gives Apple props for being “saddened and upset,” even though, when you think about it, there’s no real reason for us to feel upset, since there’s actually nothing bad or unusual happening at Foxconn, statistically speaking.

Cringely, who says, “not nearly as many workers are throwing themselves off the roof of that Foxconn factory in China as I would expect.” Yes, that’s right. He thinks there should be more suicides. Sigh.

ChinaDivide, which picks up on Cringely’s “I dare you” taunting tone and says that when compared to the national average, Foxconn’s suicidal workers are “far below the curve.”

Great work by all of you. You’ll all be on the shortlist for advance review units of the second-generation iPad.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Another Foxconn jumper, and you know who’s the real victim? Me


Because think about it. Why are these fuckers jumping out of buildings? What are they hoping to accomplish? Simple. They want to embarrass Apple — meaning, me — and make us — meaning, me — look bad. Truth is, this is all about me, and it has been from the start.

Well, excuse me, you ungrateful bastards, but what have I done that’s so awful? Other than giving you a great job where you build tremendous stamina and leg strength, with regularly scheduled bathroom breaks, a clean dorm to live in, two hot meals a day and $130 a month? That’s a pretty damn good deal. And this is how you repay me? By throwing yourselves off fucking buildings so that the sleazeballs in the media will jump all over it and blame it all on me?

Well, today Gizmodo has yet another report and this one even includes photos of the dead guy on the ground. Nice work, you sensationalist tabloid pricks. Nine suicides in five months and you want to make this out to be some kind of trend. Yeah. As if.

I’m especially appalled by the photos of the dead guy. You really think people need to see stuff like this? No, they do not. In fact this is exactly why we created iPad — because on the iPad eventually we’ll be able to block this kind of snuff porn. Right now we still have to deal with a general purpose browser. But down the road we’ll remove some functionality and add some content controls. We’ll call it Safari Plus, and tell you how magical it is, and people will line up to get it.

As for the jumpers, for those of you who are interested, I recommend taking a look at a document called Suicide Facts which attempts to explain why people do stuff like this. It even includes a section on suicide epidemics. Not saying that we have a suicide epidemic on our hands in China, because we certainly do not. In fact I’m not even saying that these people committed suicide, because that hasn’t been established.

The big point is that this phenomenon is nothing new, as explained in this bullet point about why groups of people commit suicide:

(4) Escape from an unbearable situation. This may be persecution, a terminal illness, or chronic misery. There is no lack of historical examples: Epidemics of suicide were frequent among Jews in medieval Europe; (sometimes they were given a choice between converting to Christianity and death). Later, both Indian and black slaves in the New World committed mass suicide to escape brutal treatment. One slave owner supposedly stopped such desertion among his slaves by threatening to kill himself and follow them into the next world, and impose worse repression there.

Not saying that our workers in China are slaves, or that they feel as if they are slaves, and I’m certainly not saying that I’m a slave owner, because I’m certainly not a slave owner, anymore than the mill owners who bought cotton produced in the South in the 18th century were slave owners, because they weren’t slave owners. All they did was buy the cotton.

That’s all I’m doing. Buying the cotton.

But again, the real point is that this has all happened many times before. This is nothing new. And it’s no big deal. You didn’t see the blogs and newspapers getting all hyped up about it when it was medieval Jews escaping persecution by the Roman Catholic Church, did you? No, you did not. Because the media gives the Catholics a pass.

But now that it’s us, well, that’s different. Now it’s Apple. Now it’s me. And honestly, when it comes to the media, I just can’t catch a break. Never have. Because Microsoft and Google and Adobe are out there promoting this story and pulling strings with their friends in the media to run these stories and try to smear us. It’s ugly and dirty and just plain wrong. Shame on you, media. Shame on you too, Foxconn jumpers. Shame on all of you.