Ever thought about throwing your smart phone out the window? I did when I sat down and started to research the effects of my consumer lifestyle with the help of new smart phone apps Free World and Phone Story. The apps start off by telling their users exactly how they’re damaging the planet and exploiting their fellow human beings––then they suggest a way to make this better.
I have 33 slaves working for me. This, according to Free World, is a relatively small amount of the 27 million forced laborers worldwide. Free World allows its users take a test, asking them questions about everything from the amount of lingerie in their closet to the number of soy beans they eat on a regular basis, in order to calculate as precisely as they can the number of people exploited in the process of providing these goods. Free World then uses your guilt to rope you into fixing the problem. Through the app, consumers are encouraged to share their slavery footprint on social media sites to promote awareness about forced labor.
Phone Story, “an educational game about the dark side of your favorite smart phone,” was recently banned from the Apple app store, but is available for Android devices. The game takes you from coltan mines in the Congo to industrial warehouses in the industrial sector of China, following the chain of materials and resources that go into making a smart phone. The object of the game is to raise awareness of the short life span of technology and labor extortion. Through the Phone Story app, users can make donations to Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior, a nonprofit hoping to reveal corporate exploitation.
We all love our smart phones, and maybe by participating in efforts to make changes, we can feel good about using them, too.