The first half of M.T. Anderson’s Feed is almost jarring to read. It reminds me of the Pixar film, Wall-E, in a scene where people are sitting watching their personal TVs being moved around in life with no purpose. The characters in Feed are no different but strikingly, the characteristics of their warped, technologically run world bear many resemblances to the society we live in today. Kids are constantly being bombarded with advertisements about latest trends and newest products. In our society, we see the same thing as 13 minutes of a 30 minute TV show is set aside solely for commercials. Violet’s experiment to try and confuse her feed and throw off preference-based marketing is no different than what we have either. Predictive marketing is a growing trend and companies now will generate your coupons based on past purchases – Target is said to be able to know you’re pregnant before you are due to their marketing expertise and product tracking. Another similarity to our current society is the connection to technology. People can’t be seen today without their cell phones in hand, texting away, connecting them to a parallel universe where “lol” and “ily” mean more than just three random letters slapped together.
All of these similarities became compounded as I read further, and it worried me when Titus chatted Violet, “When you have the feed all your life, you’re brought up not to think about things.” (113) This can even be said for smart phones. Growing up, our generation started seeing the technology boom but didn’t see smart phones becoming popular until our high school years. For kids today, they only know smart phones. The constant connection to Google, the Internet, apps, and texting is a little scary for someone who is 12 years old. The reliance on technology for basic human functioning (like calculating the tip on a restaurant bill) is headed towards an extreme that cannot even be imagined. Seeing the level of attachment between Titus’ friends and their feeds after the hacking really stood out to me. Do I feel the same about my phone if it were to break? Would I still retain normal functioning and security throughout my day without my device of choice. Questions like this filled my head throughout the novel and really made me worried about the future of technology in our society.
One last point I want to make is with regards to emotions in this novel. It is interesting to see the relationship progress between Violet and Titus and how their ability to express and feel emotions changes as well. At first, most of their communication is through their feed’s chat functions and through Titus’ mental monologues. However, after meeting Violet’s father before their country weekend, Titus begins to speak about his emotions – a rare feat given his aversion to words in both their written and oral form. Violet reciprocates this with much more fluidity (probably because of her father’s linguistic abilities and advocacy of the spoken language) and even kisses him on the cheek and saying, “I’ll be the first one, dumpling, to pull your plug,” – a romantic yet quirky comment about Titus’ eventual death and her presence with him at the end. (146)