[Note: I began this essay in the autumn of 2017 initially intending it to be a poem. It has been revised numerous times to reach its current form]
Music plays on my Apple laptop…the back reads: “Designed by Apple in California Assembled in China.”
According to the “executive summary” for the China Labor Watch Website “workers making the iPhone” are exploited, paid just $1.85 per hour.
(Compare to my $11; compare to $7.25, America’s minimum wage).
The Guardian reports that the Foxcon Longhua factory in China, which manufactures iPhones, has body catching nets to curtail its suicide epidemic.
Should I trash what the workers produced in protest, and boycott?
I sigh…the music plays on…a man and woman sing: “I-I-I-O-I-I-I-O-I-O-AH- I-O-I-O-O-AYYYY! AYYYY! YEAHHH!…”
According to a Business Wire article published June 23, 1999, it was a husband and wife singing “a vocal chant” called “Jubilant Drinking Song,” recorded in the late 1970s and incorporated without their knowledge in this international top ten hit– the 1993 song “Return to Innocence,” by a music group that calls itself “Enigma.”
This resulted in a lawsuit and then eventually a settlement.
The music continues…I think of wind…wind…blowing through American beachgrass…
…the sound of ocean waves crashing while I’m walking on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk, gazing at the snow falling from a dark gray, nighttime sky.
I show the winter wind my toughness as it persists, whipping my exposed skin.
The music inspires, and facilitates contemplation and day dreams…
As global/international society sophisticates and deepens its connection through communication technologies and improved alliances I think we ought to reexamine what we mean when we identify with and distinguish ourselves nationally….and beyond the context of laws we are subject to…beyond the jurisdictional context, that is to say.
I want to talk more about my notion of vlogging and my fascination with the medium.
Like I said yesterday, I care very deeply about preserving records of personal contemplations as a way to better understand the self in relation to society, environment, and time, for both contemporary-social purposes and journalistic-historical purposes.
What does it really mean to know somebody? I mean the person beyond the sales pitch– though not necessarily excluding it for we are, in part, the work we are so passionate about.
Some people can’t relate to my love for commercials and ads. Really, I do enjoy them in many respects. I don’t mind that someone would like my money. I only mind if that’s all someone cares about in his or her interaction with me. So the commercials and ads for those products which are of high quality…I actually find inspiration in that…a find a sense of culture, society, and one where conditions are improving.
Still, there is much to be troubled about with respect to how we approach our productivity, consumerism, materialism, commercialism, capitalism, et cetera.
Think for example of what goes on behind the production of our electrionics. It is not just, for example, Apple, where worker suicide in China has been widely reported over the last decade– that abuses and exploits its workers. So does Samsung.
Our organizations explored this hidden story by conducting in-depth, open-ended, confidential interviews with 45 women who work on the assembly lines at two Samsung factories in Vietnam. What we found was shocking.
All the workers we interviewed reported that they experienced episodes of dizziness or fainting at work. High noise levels violated legal limits. After standing at work for 70 to 80 hours a week, they reported pain in their bones, joints, and legs. Not a single worker we interviewed received a copy of her work contract (a violation of Vietnamese labor law).
(And Huawei…well that company is deeply embedded in and subsidized by a totalitarian communist regime in China. So the three titans of the smart phones– they really give us this amazing technology at the expense of extremely unethical practices. )
Bringing this back to knowing a person though…I wonder if there is a relationship between the degree of permissiveness humanity on a global level possesses with respect to the exploitation and harm behind the production of its most cherished technology and possessions, and perhaps the degree to which we really hold back from understanding our humanness, our souls, our senses of self.
I must report to you, I felt …. Really for the first time since I began this vlog just short of 3 weeks ago, a bit of insecurity this morning trying to wrap my mind around the sense of my “purpose” in some kind of marketable expression about it. “What the hell am I really doing and why am I doing it?” I wondered. And I worried if I came across to you as either too professional or too unprofessional. Then I though of a vlog I recently watched by a gentleman who goes by the name Daniel DC Becker.
He began a vlog to document his experience with colon cancer. In his vlog about anxiety he opens up about his temptation to delete the vlog he’s making or at least not to share it, bu then he stops himself.
He says “I don’t want to hide this aspect of myself” he says that “feels like giving up. So I’m gonna put this out there. This is me. For better or worse”
I can relate to that. I don’t want to hide my thoughts.
I mean, I don’t feel a need to tell you EVERYTHING. So how does one decide that which one should share? Afterall, privacy too, is a wonderful value– I believe privacy is part of one’s sense of self, that and the choice of keeping this or that private.
But how then do I decide what goes into the private category and what gets placed into the share with humanity category? This of course addresses a wider issue, does it not? That issue of those aspects of ourselves we keep to ourselves. (Some people perhaps could focus on sharing less and can overwhelm us…inundate us with more of themselves than we might want to know but the question of what about others we are curious about I think is another issue)
From my point of view, as of now, I like to share thoughts I believe I have vetted meaningfully…thoughts I feel a degree of confidence about…or rather…opinions I have confidence in…
Maybe judicious sharing of the self as a root in the realm of opinion. That is to say, we have put enough thought in some aspects of ourselves to have some degree of logically, factually supported opinion on it. That;s my theory as of now on the matter. I think it may make some sense and may connect to the social media concept.
Like I said yesterday, vlogging in particular offers a fascinating counter-balance to tweeting (and I should add also, Instagram too). Where vlogging offers more deeply contemplated, thorough, longer winded thought (in theory), the tweet is limited to 280 characters (unless you go live) and on Instagram too.
So my love for vlogging is necessarily a love more broadly speaking of social media and did I mention earlier to you the irony considering how shy I’ve been for most of life?
Social media speaks as of late to a major frustration in life I’ve only recently discovered an outlet for: a feeling of an immense weight consisting of an abundance of contemplations that felt “off the record” which I wanted on the record. Social media puts it on the record for as long as the social media sites care to preserve that which we publish on their sites.
I also wanted to discuss with you the European Union Parliamentary Elections that conclude today. Europe is a place I wish I paid more attention to. A place I hope to one day visit. As you may discover is widely reported, key issues relevant to these elections include mass immigration, Islamization, nationalism and populism versus centralized European control (quite like our states rights versus federalism debate).
To me, and you might have noted this from previous vlogs, the stand out issue of interest is the question of nationalism versus centralization…and even more widely, nationalism versus globalism.
A question which has long been on my mind: what is the moral basis for the special distinction of country…of fragmented political entities, regions, et cetera? To be clear, I am not asking what the purpose of GOVERNMENT as such is. That’s an entirely different question.
From an evolutionary perspective, of course, “country” or ‘nation” makes sense. Humanity spread itself out and the question of order and resources loomed.
But as global/international society sophisticates and deepens its connection through communication technologies and improved alliances I think we ought to reexamine what we mean when we identify with and distinguish ourselves nationally….and beyond the context of laws we are subject to…beyond the jurisdictional context, that is to say.
Ideology and philosophy of course are key as much as economic integration is. Alliances and “unions” like the United States or the European Union speak to certain constitutional and fundamental values and principles that in theory or legal practice are supposed to be shared.
Postmodernism has complicated this. Even if not in fact the actual intention of postmodern philosophers, I think notions of extreme relativism are severely prone to fragmentation and nationalism. Ironically even extreme individualism.
I say this as an individualist myself.
The point is, I believe there is a sort of global philosophical pressure in the realm of identity– the protection of individual autonomy and reconciling that with universal interests.
What compels us to say— this land must be American land…or French, or Chinese, or Kenyan, or Russian, et cetera? And what justifies it? How much less compelled would people be to lean towards nationalism if economic anxiety were no longer an issue? How much of nationalism is directly fueled by economic anxiety and assuaged by tribalism?
I really can’t speak to many of the factors specifically pertaining to Europe because I’m not currently educated in the realm of contemporary European affairs so much. But with Brexit in recent memory it is obvious how much economic anxiety and trade frustrations and the impact mass immigration on available resources is shaking things up in Europe causing more nationalism.
I wonder if…to look at this all as universally as I can…and I think my wife was saying something to this effect to me yesterday upon reflecting on a book she is reading— Blaming the Victim– by William Ryan. She mentioned, when discussing the book… thinking about isolated issues as things which could happen to any of us and so trying to examine things in a universal way and what if then…as we look at the issues that economic anxiety is causing in the world…all of this nationalism and such…we have more conversation about how to fight poverty in general? It is a loaded issue, but…I can tie this all back to what I said at the beginning of this vlog— thinking about people as people as opposed to robots we are detached from who are producing the lovely things we buy in life-crushing, undignified conditions, all for an unfair price. I’ll rest my case for the day.
Public Comment is a personal journal vlog where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.