I will gladly say I loved Feed because I hate how it describes a future dystopian America. This is my third time reading this book for school and instead of reading my usual review, I’m going to throw some bits and pieces of an essay I wrote about the novel your way!
While the promises of technology are portrayed in satire detail throughout M. T. Anderson’s novel Feed, the perils of technology are meg emphasized. Anderson’s futuristic society is so clearly dependent on the feed within the novel, that they do not seem to understand how the feed actually degrades mankind, reduces individuality, and continues to ruin the planet. “…so I was just lying there, and couldn’t play any of the games on the feed, and couldn’t chat anyone, and I couldn’t do a fucking thing except look at the stupid boat painting.” (49) By never referring to the feed as a positive entity within society, Anderson is clearly against the feed and its codependent society. The characters are so immersed in their built in technologically dependent lives where they are continuously manipulated by corporations into an overly consumeristic lifestyle. While they go about their corporation-owned schools, activities, and lives; they are shown an infinite amount of advertisements and bargain sales not only all day long but throughout their sleep as well.
The feed throughout the novel openly degrades mankind. While the feed is manipulating everyone into a consumeristic society, it is also destroying humanity. People are no longer curious or even aware of what’s going on around them, unless it has to do with the latest sale. Their society takes anything threatening, like a riot breaking out in California as an example and recuperates the situation by producing and selling riot gear through the feed to make riots seem normal, unthreatening. Feed’s America is completely ignorant of their planets suffering and choose to do nothing about it, they are arrogant about traveling from one planet to another, they are ignorant of others who do not have the feed or are not in their “type,” which similarly replicates the class struggles America has gone through throughout history. In this future America, in their society, the feed has programed everyone to be commodities. The feed builds consumer profiles around their thoughts, just as our Facebook pages build their advertisements around our google searches today. However, near the end of the novel when Violet’s feed begins to malfunction she is unable to get assistance due to not having a clear consumer profile as a result of her resistance to the feed.
The characters are all unfortunately interchangeable, boring, and frankly lack any real personality. By implanting the feed into the characters heads at a young age, it removes conscious and instinctual thoughts, replaced by the next trend or sale advertisements. While in today’s society there is a barrier between us and social feeds, Titus and his friends don’t have a glowing red exit button on the top left corner of their brains. Violet who was not raised with the feed, is portrayed as an outcast because she attempting to resist it. While Violet sticks out like a sore thumb, people still watch her every move and conform to the newest trend: “once, she went to the bathroom, casual-like, and came back with her hair parted in a different place. Calista and Quendy watched her. Later, without saying anything, they went and did theirs different like that, too.” (52) Link, on the other hand, stands out from the crowd of the look-alike teenagers. He speaks and act as the rest due to being raised around the feed, but he is the tallest and not as conventionally attractive as the rest because he’s part of a secret patriotic experiment that has cloned Abraham Lincoln’s DNA and placed it into Link. That’s individuality, being tall or short, having brown hair or red hair, even being part of a patriotic experiment make people individuals.
Reduce, reuse, recycle; go green; eat organic; save the planet; are all phrases one may hear on almost a daily basis in our society, although in Feed’s America it’s the complete opposite. The planet is built from the ground up by corporations, CloudsTM fill the sky bubbles, the oceans are dry, and background radiation has caused abnormal reproduction. Pets are never mentioned, except for some “fake birds that were the big spit” Marty was playing with on their way to the moon (5). Titus’ dad supports the advancement of continuing to cut down trees to build air factories, while earlier in the novel Titus describes some air vents he passes as “streaked with black” (8), emphasizing the sense of the decaying planet. The background radiation is causing liaison to appear on people’s bodies, stressing their ignorance toward how badly hurt not only the planet is but their bodies reaction to it coming death.
In the end, the feed itself continues to take anything living it’s own individual life. Violet continued to resist the feed until lit malfunction and took her life. It is easy to assume that the feed would continue to manipulate society into a collectivistic culture, society would continue to grow in ignorance and arrogance, the lesions on bodies would continue to grow and spread on their everyone, that the oceans would go completely dry. The result of technology growing within society is one of the most challenging debates. Feed depicts the perils of technology in the most incredible way. Expanding on what would seem to be the most promising aspects of technology; instant information and improved communication. But are the promises truly worth the perils?