Why do we care so much? Why do we care so much that some, if not all, of Mike Daisey’s piece from the past This American Life entitled The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, which described his visit to Shenzhen and the horrid scenes of work life in the Apple factory named Foxconn was false? We, I, lie almost everyday of my life. Whether it is something so small as to get out of talking to a person I bumped into for too long, or something entirely bigger, it’s human nature. Why do we lie? Lies tell the truths people do not want to hear. They also tell truths people do want to hear. Lies can be anything we want them to be, anything we need at that moment in time. They can save us, harm us, and motivate us, among other uses. They are perfect in almost every sense of the word. Think about it.
If lies are so powerful, and so useful, why do we shun them so often? Daisey, after all, said it himself, all he wanted to do was make people care. And he lied to do it. Does that make him a terrible person? To most of society, I would think the answer is an astounding “yes”. But in reality this made people believe, realize, and understand a situation that is proven to happen around the world. Hell, Nestle admitted to legitimate slavery this past week. Not simply bad working conditions and wages, but actual, conscious decisions to employ slaves for their company. The entire concept is not a fairy tale. These things are happening today, whether he saw it or not. My point is this, Mike Daisey made a believer out of you, I and the thousands of people who heard his monologue. In the end, we all collectively care for child labor, unfair wages, sweatshops etc. We may have drifted through the rest of our young lives without having ever known this was happening (although a stretch). We do care, and we are concerned about the sweatshop culture being used by various corporations around the world. Is that such a bad thing?
This goes against most popular forms of ethical thinking today. A Kantian perspective would condemn him for using the ends to justify the means, a Social Contract perspective says he would not had to have lied in order to get his point across like the rest of the world, and a Virtuous person would never lie in the first place, or so society has decided in this day and age. Lying is seen has soemthing to be burned at the stake for in our world, but it’s such a commonplace among the world’s population. Daisey is, by almost all accounts, a terrible person, performer etc. for doing this monologue and claiming it to be up to journalistic standards. But what about an Act Utilitarian? Is it possible for him to be justified because he raised the issue to a height it has, perhaps, not reached until this point? Some would say it is justified; I am inclined to agree with those people. All he wanted to do was make people care.
Maybe lying is an atrocity. Maybe everything he lied about is not worth it in the end. All truths could be the same size. All lies, no matter how small, could be harmful. Using small lies to build up to a larger truth could be a myth in itself. Did Mike Daisey use small lies to reveal the bigger truth? Would people be happier if this monologue was never ran or performed? Its quite possible, as there would be nothing to condemn Daisey for in the end, aside from a story about a trip to Shenzhen he may tell when he invites his friends over for a dinner party. The story could, potentially, worthless to the advancement of society. This could pose as an example of how lying does not get anyone something they want. It could show how people will not want to listen to someone who lies all the time, or on such a large scale. Yet, I still cannot get over the fact that so many people donwloaded, listened to, went to see The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs and did not feel something new or different from when it was over. Lying, in my own opinion, serves a larger purpose than society gives it credit.
Featured Image: Mike Daisey Center, and Ira Glass and David Sedaris (This American Life) on either side of him.