Blood in the Mobile: Combating Your Violent Electronics

What do tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold have in common? For one thing, they are all found in almost all electronics in the world, including cellphones, computers, blackberries, iPods, and tablets. They are also all found in eastern Congo, where they are mined by young men and boys to help fund the war and genocide currently going on in that country.

Julia Schmidt and Josh Kanagy, both Seniors, have been working since last spring on finding ways to help end the atrocities in Congo. They have been in contact with Hope for Congo and Conflict Free Campus Initiative, trying to help raise awareness.

With this goal, they decided to show the movie “Blood in the Mobile,” directed by Frank Poulsen, in Common Grounds for free on Monday. This movie explored how the people of Congo are being exploited and killed at the whim of those in power.

It showed the rich getting richer while the poor are tortured and killed, all for the sake of getting minerals to the technological companies who sell them to the consumers (in oth- er words, us). No wonder these minerals are considered “blood” minerals.

The film followed Poulsen as he traveled to Congo and witnessed the living conditions of the people, both rich and poor. He then traveled to Nokia (his cellphone company) to ask about how the company is respond- ing to the violence, which had been known for about ten years. The answer was that they were aware of the problem, but they could not do anything.

Next, he found and interviewed various people involved in trying to find some sort of a solution to stop the genocide, which included demanding transparency from the companies and passing legislation.

Although I understood what Poulsen wanted to do with the movie, I could not help but to cringe at the clichéd presentation.There were many moments in the movie obviously meant to draw an emotional response, whether that be anger towards the technology companies or pity for those in Congo. Unfortunately, I was distracted by a few other things; for one, the camera used to film this. I wonder if Poulsen ever pushed the camera company as he did Nokia in the movie.

I was also bothered by all the transportation used to create the film. Vehicles like cars and planes contain some form of the four minerals, but this fact is glossed over. And I’m not even mentioning the rather poorly done editing. It seemed very hypocritical for Poulsen to point fingers at Nokia when he was still dependent on other technologies.

Despite what I considered to be a weak movie, it still captured the attention of many students and fac- ulty members. One such student was Alex Rosen, Junior, who had come to watch the movie without knowing any- thing. After the movie, he felt ready to get involved and buy conflict-free.

Another student was Jean Claude Nkundwa, a CJP student, who is from Burundi which is near Congo. It saddened him immensely to see that the people in Congo did not understand that other peo- ple are trying so hard to help them. “EMU is connected to many places,” Nkundwa pointed out. “They can spread information quickly.”

Luckily, EMU isn’t alone in spreading the news. Since the movie’s creation two years ago, legislation had passed in the United States to outlaw any technology made from the blood minerals. On top of that, various college campuses passed resolutions to only buy technology made from conflict-free minerals. Schmidt and Kanagy believe that EMU can also pass such resolution, as long as there can be more discussions. They plan to meet again in Common Grounds Tuesday, Sept 18, to continue this discussion.

“Just because I’m a college student, doesn’t mean I don’t have a voice,” Rosen said.

-Joo-Ah Lee, Style Editor

Categories: Style

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