I like Apple products, not just as an Apple blogger but as a person who loves technology. I also like playing Diablo III. But as both Blizzard Entertainment and Apple have shown us, sometimes conflict arises between companies and their customers.
How Woke Are You?
Recently I’ve been reading about a trend lately called “woke consumerism.” This refers to the practice of buying products from companies with values generally accepted as good, like environmentalism and privacy. Some companies are taking advantage of this, like Unilever. Unilever has pledged to reduce its plastic use by 50% because this appeals to “younger shoppers.”
Even if the motive isn’t pure, the result still benefits everyone. That still counts as good, right? There’s a valid argument that companies have to obey local laws in countries they operate in. But what happens when a company operates in an authoritarian country or accepts money from them?
I don’t just refer to Apple removing that Hong Kong protest app, or removing the Quartz app. Blizzard recently banned a player for supporting the Hong Kong protests. Vans censored pro-Hong Kong designs in its shoe design competition. Other companies have made similar moves and Redditor u/lebbe has a long list of them.
It’s a bit ironic because years ago the idea was that China’s participation in the global economy would let Western democracy and values slowly trickle over. Instead the opposite has happened. Corporations are letting Chinese authoritarianism spread to the West. I know that Apple’s supply chain is firmly embedded in China and it can’t easily leave the country.
But as a supporter of human rights I’m ashamed of these companies. My focus is mainly on Apple because I write for an Apple website. I read Tim Cook’s memo defending its move and I felt a bit betrayed. Betrayed by a company that hitherto has represented me. Betrayed because I like others thought that Apple was on my side.
It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of corporations. Unlike some governments corporations aren’t democracies and we can’t vote CEOS in and out of their station. Instead they’re a bit closer to the aforementioned authoritarianism. We have to vote with our wallets, which goes back to my point that money shouldn’t be the ultimate arbiter. Money has no morals.
It’s part of human nature to project our values on those we respect, like friends, family or Tim Cook. But at the end of the day corporations aren’t our friends, not even ones like Apple that otherwise have progressive values. Values can be bought and sold like stocks.
—Sent from my Mac