Archie Bland: There is no 'i' in 'brand', but I see myself reflected in it

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When haughty people say they don't buy stuff on the basis of a brand, what they tend to mean is that they buy stuff on the basis of a slightly more rarefied brand. I am one of these people.

I sneer at those grotty teenage boys who buy Lynx deodorant because they think it will make them irresistible to women, but I buy Apple products, nominally because they work really well and are aesthetically pleasing, but probably really because I believe they imbue me with an appealingly hip kind of efficiency that I would otherwise altogether lack.

I am no corporate slave, I tell myself! I just have an iPhone and an iPad and a MacBook and I've heard there might be a whizzy new Apple TV thing soon and I'm definitely excited. That's different.

That teenage boy is at least honest about his demands and in the end his honesty serves him better. Because I claim to be above all that, I risk being left with some serious doublethink to make sense of. A case in point: the news that Apple has been forced to admit that abuses of workers' rights at the Foxconn factories it uses in China are so bad that it has had to let independent inspectors assess the situation.

These abuses have been known for years and, in the past, Apple has been accused of failing in its duty to try to stop them. (Other companies like Nokia and Toshiba have found themselves in a similar position.) And yet I still have an iPhone. We all do, we faint lefties, with our pretensions to ethical grandeur. People have committed suicide at the Foxconn plant. What would it take to make us give them up? Would we pay more attention if the victims were Westerners? Now, the Lynx man, he has no problems. He can give up his deodorant if he finds out something he doesn't like about it. Because for him, the brand is a service, not an emblem for something significant about his soul.

We Apple lovers, on the other hand, are in trouble. We have to decide if our products are worth the suffering they cause.

My decision? Well, I'm writing this on a you-know-what. I don't know what this says about me, exactly. But it can't be anything good. Once you've taken a bite of the Apple, it's very hard to go back to a state of innocence.

i@independent.co.uk

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