Feed by M. T. Anderson, published in 2004
For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon – a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. Following in the footsteps of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world — and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.
Will you forgive me if I post a lackluster review this week? I’m still bogged down under final essays but my university semester is so close to ending I can reach it with my fingertips. Let’s talk Feed though, because if I think about uni a second longer than I have to I think I’ll crack.
M. T. Anderson’s “Feed” explores human apathy and lack of individuality resulting from an overreliance on technology. A further theme within the novel tackles environmental degradation to the point of resource depletion. While a character within the novel, Violet, questions the state of world affairs, the closing pages of “Feed” indicate a grim outlook for Earth and its inhabitants should technological progression continue as is.
Titus, the novel’s main character, is a prime example of the apathetic demeanor adopted by the humans in “Feed.” When Titus first spots Violet, he finds her irresistible. He “want[ed], more than anything else that night, to be with her” (Anderson, p. 25, 2012). Because Anderson uses first person narration in the novel, I am draw into Titus’ emotions more wholly. But Titus’ emotions are fleeting and he only wants Violet when it is convenient for him, demonstrative of his apathetic nature. When Violet calls Titus to say something is wrong with her feed, he complains that she woke him up. Like, that’s all that matters.
What is the feed? Think smartphone, except it’s implanted in your brain. Yup. If you’re rich enough (and most people in this book are rich enough, the poor just aren’t important enough to matter) you get the feed implanted in your brain at a young age. From then on you can do EVERYTHING with just a thought. Text your friends, buy new clothes, book a trip to the moon (yeah, it’s been colonized).
Titus also only has complaints when Violet wishes to go to the mountains before she dies. (Not really a spoiler since we find out quite early in the book that Violet is dying.) Titus, like most of the humans in his time, is apathetic as a result of his desire for immediacy. Everyone lives in the now because their technology allows them to move so rapidly. When Titus wanted a pair of pants, he did not have to get in his car, drive to the store, sift through the rack for his size and try them on before finally making a purchase. He only had to flick though his feed and hit select. As a result, it is little wonder that Titus would not want to go for a trek up a mountain. When people are conditioned to expect things immediately, suddenly demanding them to do things the long way sounds like the hard way.
Within “Feed,” a lack of individuality is explored as well. In this case, the feed depends on humans having little individuality so they will be better consumers. Callista and Loga are the best examples, changing their entire appearance to match celebrities on their favourite TV show. In fact, Callista and Loga have very few identity traits, much like most of the characters in this novel. The lack of individuality also means the characters in this novel do not care about much beyond popular TV shows, good music, and cars. Caring about the environment means very little. This works in favour of big corporations, who can then pollute as much as they need to without worry. The world in “Feed” includes trademarked clouds and toxic seawater, but no attention is given from the general population. Indeed, the news is regulated, the president talks “like, um, yeah, totally” and when people travel, it’s not to the beach but to the moon.
While the world of “Feed” appears far-fetched at first glance—trips to the moon, regulated news and trademarked clouds—a second look shows a lot of its world to be grounded firmly in reality. Much like clouds, water is a natural resource, and it has been bottled and sold for years. The news in “Feed” is regulated because the president can no longer speak without a technological device dictating his words and ideas—and who designs that device but a corporation?—and currently, every news station has its own agenda going forth. What is most important to note, however, is that the catalyst in Anderson’s novel is apathy. Humans did not care as technology slowly took over their lives, they did not care as the natural resources on the planet were depleted and they did not care as corporations moulded their identities and snatched their individuality. Apathy is perhaps the greatest sin and it is as alive in the twenty-first century as it is in Titus’ feed invested world.
I adoooore this book because it puts us face to face with issues we loathe to contemplate. None of the characters in this book are designed to be likeable because they have abandoned their human element. They have abandoned themselves to the feed. Anderson’s novel illustrates what happens when we forget to be human. I recommend to anyone who wants to see a glimpse of a future perhaps not so far away.
Next Chooseday is pre-selected! This is because I need to cover certain books for the #30daysofHumanRightsBPR Blog Challenge. Expect to see Dangerous Girls next week!
(1) Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off on a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations.
As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer, she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.
As she awaits the judge’s decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine…
📷 = @shaniasquires