The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference is the debut book written by Malcolm Gladwell, first published by Little Brown in 2000. One of the case he used in this book is a suicide case in Micronesia. Early 1960s, suicide in Micronesia almost never happened, but by 1980s, suicide in Micronesia was 160 per 100,000, suicides were only happened among male boys between 15-24 years-old. The author looked at reports suggesting that high-profile suicides become a form of permission to those who were susceptible to the idea. Those who might be likely to commit suicide are “sold” on it when it appears prominently in the media.

Pre-2010

While 2010 was a remarkable year for the company in terms of the suicide rate, employee suicides have occurred at Foxconn in other years as well.

pre2010

2010

An estimated 18 Foxconn employees attempted suicide in 2010,  with a minimum of 14 deaths.

2010

2011

2011

2012

2012

2013

2013

Do you remember something about the suicide in Foxconn? As we noticed, most of the suicides in Foxconn are quoted with “fell from building”. I watched a TED talk around one year ago, you can search that video on TED.com by inputting “Golden Gate Bridge”, I guess an image of an inspiring architecture has shown in your mind. But you will be surprised find that the title of that talk is The bridge between suicide and life”. Like the Golden Gate Bridge, the high building in Foxconn is a magnet for suicide.

There are three rules of epidemics as Gladwell said, the law of few, the stickiness factor, and the power of context.

  1. The law of few.

“The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.”

In Foxconn, the suicides are relatively fewer when compared to the total number of workers. But, all those fewer cases are responsible for the “tipping”.  This group pf people was placed in the headline, and spread like the epidemic among the workers. Since they finally found out that there is a way to get rid of heavy work and depressing life, they would subconsciously leave that choice in their mind.

I will discuss the ethic of the public media in last post, and I am pretty sure that in Foxconn case, the medias have responsibility since they have the power to guide the public opinion. and they violated their code of ethics.

  1. The stickiness factor.

“The specific quality that a message needs to be successful is the quality of ‘stickiness.’ Is the message-or the food, or the movie, or the product-memorable? Is it so memorable, in fact, that it can create change, that it can spur someone to action?”

Bloody scene is shocking enough. Does there has anything more memorable than a people who once worked next to you suddenly fell from a building?

  1. The power of context.

“The key to getting people to change their behavior, in other words, sometimes lies with the smallest details of their immediate situation. The Power of Context says that human beings are a lot more sensitive to their environment than they may seem.”

Long struggle for survival, they bear the dual pressures from family and work. Quit work, no food; stick on it, no human right. This is a dilemma faced by those workers. How ironic that a person wanted to die just because “losing an iPhone prototype in his possession”.  And I know you know that it was just because of IT, it dues to all the hands behind that person. Kid’s hands ask for food, old parents’ hands wave for goodbye, and supervisor’s hands beat on body. Those hands are full of power, push them from the top of the building.

All in all, the companies that are associated with the working condition should not just focus on the superficial issues, because a person can’t be rescued by increasing their overtime working salary if they are mentally unhealthy. To stop the epidemic spread, they need to focus on solving the three rules of it. And we will discuss it on next post.

 

Reference:

  1. https://malcolmgladwelltippingpoint.wikispaces.com
  2. Wikipedia
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