Humans are now collectively policing each other in unprecedented ways. Much has been made of this new era of ‘social responsibility,’ and the good news is that corporations, governments and all public officials are on display and criticism is never far away – ‘public office’ means just that. This, of course, has its own problems with privacy and the idea that with the explosion of social media and Internet connectivity, we are all judges. But, isn’t that a pillar of democracy?
One could also argue that corporations are indeed the policymakers – with politicians as a sort of middleman: ineffective PR agents who consistently fail to win the public trust. This thought could apply to massive, ubiquitous monoliths like Apple computers, whose cuddly, progressive modern image fits nicely with how we flat-pack our lives. But, without cynicism, one feels they carry a true sense of social responsibility; Apple is a very much a ‘peoples brand.’ Even with the deaths in China at factories producing iPads, Tim Cook’s newfound leadership has aimed at quieting any criticisms.
The latest controversy comes from the city of San Francisco telling local government officials not to buy Apple products, as the company has recently pulled out of the EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) pact – which assesses the environmental impact of electronic products. Apple has, for a long time, been a proud member of this watchdog, assuring the public that their products are as environmentally friendly as possible. It seems the latest incarnation of the Macbook Pro might not be as ‘friendly’ as past products, hence their leave.
But, after the latest press, Apple has once again joined up to the EPEAT system, making a case for how we, collectively, have more power than ever before. I don’t for a minute believe Apple has done a volte-face for fear of losing profits, but more for the idea of maintaining credibility – these are words that will continue to be the backbone of this century. And who would argue that that isn’t a nice credo in which to approach the future?