Smart speakers. Smartphones. They, and the world they belong to, feel less and less smart each day.
Underpaid and exhausted: the human cost of your Kindle
In the Chinese city of Hengyang, we find a fatigued, disposable workforce assembling gadgets for Amazon, owned by the world’s richest man.
Talk in the factory is of agency workers being laid off without pay during quiet periods: 700 in April and May, and 2,700 in January and February. Yet among the workers there is no great simmering anger, no burning resentment. Few have heard of Amazon or Bezos. They aren’t expecting very much and aren’t particularly disappointed when not very much is exactly what Foxconn and Amazon give them.
One 32-year-old married man says he can earn a basic 2,000 yuan (£233) a month making Kindles, but even with overtime taking it up to around £315 it is not enough.
It’s crazy to think that they work such long hours for such low pay, without being aware of how much money these companies are making, as a result of their work.
And it’s crazy to think that not joining in with this is now seen as outlandish and controversial.
This is what it’s like to not own a smartphone In 2018
Four years ago, I wrote about having no regrets for being a “dumb phone” user. At the time I was an anomaly: 58% of Americans, according to Pew researchers, owned a smartphone; that figure was around 80% for people in my age demographic. Now, I’m a clear oddity: 77% of U.S. adults are smartphone users, as are around 90% of my peers.
But, oh well. I don’t plan on changing tack anytime soon. Here’s why. …
My life without a smartphone
The problem is, divided out like that, we are left as partially everywhere and fully nowhere. We live with a constant Fear of Missing Out; but in need to fill the moments documenting life and making sure we don’t miss an email or update, we miss out being present in life, a sentiment beautifully illustrated in the viral “I forgot my phone” short film from last year.
I wonder if those Foxconn workers have any idea what that video’s on about.