Thursday, February 22, 2024

Between the Lines: ‘Feed’ remains relevant, topical in modern times

By Alexa Dumas

“We Americans are interested only in the consumption of our products. We have no interest in how they are produced, or what happens to them once we discard them, once we throw them away.”

In the near-future, the world looks to be in danger. For Titus, the novel’s protagonist, people travel to the moon frequently to escape Earth, which has been irrevocably damaged by humanity. However, there is a piece of technology that is to blame: feedware.

The feed is in everyone. It is implanted into the minds of children and stays with them into their adulthood. It connects a person to others virtually, while also having the internet implanted into one’s mind. For characters like Titus, it is hard to distinguish between one’s actual thoughts and what is broadcasted by corporations. 

M.T. Anderson’s young adult novel “Feed” is a stark reality of the dangers of technology to humans and the environment. Not only does technology influence society through feedware, but the Earth is dying. The most haunting aspect of the novel is the publication date. Anderson’s novel was published in 2002, and most of his ideas are becoming a reality over 20 years later. 

Houses and communities are encapsulated into bubbles that are temperature controlled and have artificial nature, like clouds and the sun. The ocean is polluted, so people must wear hazmat suits in order to swim in it. This idea of the polluted environment is starting to become a reality, as climate change is becoming more prevalent. 

 In order to escape the almost inhabitable Earth, Titus and his friends visit the moon. This concept is futuristic to contemporary readers, but it is almost mundane for Titus and his friends. 

While on a standard visit to the moon, Titus meets a girl named Violet. She seems peculiar to Titus, as she is knowledgeable about history and the world outside of the feed. It is revealed that Violet had her feedware installed at a later age than normal, which affected the connection between her mind and the feed.

Violet teaches Titus about the world before the feedware technology, which was told to her by her parents. Violet’s parents are highly educated and wanted to distance their daughter from the dangerous technology. This was not realistic, as the feed connects everyone together. If Violet didn’t have the feed, she wouldn’t be successful in her reality. 

During the trip to the moon, Titus and his friends have their feedware corrupted. While the others recover, Violet doesn’t. Her feedware becomes disconnected from mind as she begins to face her own mortality. 

Due to the feed, Titus is disconnected from his feelings. Readers watch him lose Violet without much emotion. It can be argued that the feed distances a person from feeling so one would become a consumer. This is clear when Titus views Violet dying: Instead of processing his deep emotions, he taps into the feed to purchase pants. Although the setting of “Feed” is distant, the adolescent audience can connect with the complexities of emotions during one’s teenage years.

These deep topics are complex, even for the young adult reader. This has made “Feed” a target for censorship. In 2012 and 2013, Anderson’s novel was challenged in Florida and Virginia, where parents and administrators deemed the novel unsuitable for the intended age group, due to profane language and including sexually explicit content. These themes are not unusual for the young adult novel, but it seems as if the reader’s innocence is to be protected. 

“Feed” gives readers a look into the possible future. The ideas around technology and the environment, as well as complex emotions, are all aspects of the world today. “Feed” is a must read. Like all other banned novels, Anderson’s ideas should be celebrated, not censored. 

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