In the beginning of the novel, it was hard for me to understand what exactly the feed was responsible for and who was in charge of it. I also didn’t quite understand why Violet so adamantly wanted to fight the feed. I was soon taken aback by how intense the feed controlled the lives of the people in the environment. On page 247, Violet learns she is turned down for assistance in feed repair/replacement. Specifically, ” unfortunately, FeedTech and other investors reviewed your purchasing history, and we don’t feel that you would be a reliable investment at this time. No one could get what we call a ‘handle’ on your shopping habits..” This made me think about how much of our lives at this moment are really controlled by technology and the media. It seems that children are continuously exposed to commercials about the newest technology, whether for learning like LeapFrog, or for pleasure like the ipad and ipods, etc. I also thought about the video we watched in the beginning of the semester, “It’s a book,” and considered how much we are drifting away from the traditional, simplistic, and nostalgia-filled pleasures of books and into a contemporary, complex, and convenient world of technology. The book also had a satirical undertone to it, which was evident by the final paragraph on pg. 290 discussing how Americans nowadays are only concerned with consuming products and not necessarily how they affect people. It seems as if M.T. Anderson is trying to signal a wake-up call to society about our choices and ideologies surrounding commercial enterprises and capitalism.
While reading Feed, I immediately thought of the extended mind hypothesis of embodied cognition in my cognitive science class. This theory asserts that certain parts of a persons external environment can become an extension of the internal processes that make up cognition. For example, say you have a dementia patient that frequently forgets how to get home from the grocery store. However, the patient had adopted a mechanism for remembering my writing down the directions in the notebook. The patient carries the notebook everywhere and consults it when necessary. If the patient does not have the notebook, the patient cannot get to and from the grocery store successfully. The extended mind hypothesis of embodied cognition would describe the notebook as an extension of the patient’s internal memory processes of cognition, almost like an external memory hard drive. Similar to Titus and his friends in Feed, the feed is an external mechanism (not biologically constructed) that becomes part of their cognition and functioning in everyday life. To a significant degree, Titus and his friends become reliant on the feed, similar to the example of the dementia patient and the notebook.
Though this novel is mostly read on an emerging out-of-date medium (books), much of the content involves sophisticated technology in an imaginary, futuristic world. Today, many children are also reliant on technology and other sources for daily functioning. Has anyone stopped to think how dependent they are on their iphone or other smart phone to the extent that they would accept it as part of their cognitive system? Titus’ use of the feed to look up words and facts that we are usually responsible for memorizing and learning shows that the feed may soon evolve to be THE cognitive system for those people. Though Feed was an interesting book, I did not particularly enjoy the ambiguous language. However, looking back, I now have a better sense of how my mother felt when I tried to communicate with her as a teenager.