Thursday, December 20, 2012
Feed by M.T. Anderson
If you like: the internet * dystopian futures * life imitating art
Feed is set in the not too distant future when people have implants that allow them to have all the functions of a computer or smartphone embedded into their neurological system. This has all the benefits that you could imagine, as well as all of the consequences. After being maliciously hacked while on spring break on the Moon, Titus and his friends are temporarily shut off from the network. While most recover with no issues, Violet’s connection is never corrected. Her life slowly unravels as her feed becomes increasingly dysfunctional.
Feed calls into question the benefits of living in a constantly connected world. Having an embedded connection is convenient. You never need to look for directions or sales, just think of it and the information will come to you. This can be incredibly distracting. There are constant advertisements, and pushes to buy products. IMs from friends and family never stop -- there is no longer privacy or downtime. The stream never stops; people even dream to media companionship. This constant flood of media and ads drives a consumerist culture. Every single thing has an ad or promotion attached to it. Why conserve or care for something when you can replace it in an instant? Fads change by the second when there is no waiting to learn about new trends. This also makes learning obsolete. When you can look up everything don’t need to learn; the feed thinks for you. School™ is designed to create shoppers, not producers. Courtesy is also obsolete. There is no need to treat others with respect when everyone is too busy inside their own head. The ability to have internal IM conversations also creates a culture of rudeness and disrespect.
The connection in Feed allows people to completely disconnect from reality. With a world of content in your head there is no reason care about the outside world. The feed provides constant distractions from consequences, or anything negative. The entire purpose is to keep people shopping with no concern for where the products come from our what horrors their byproducts create. The constant stream informs about what is cool or beautiful, leaving no room for individuals to decide for themselves. This leads to people losing their connection to what is human. Riots and maladies become trendy, a misdirection from the unraveling world surrounding mainstream culture. Without ever facing real consequences people lose ability to have personal connections. When everything else is temporary, love is, too. There is no societal foundation for monogamy and long-term companionship. Even dying is an inconvenience to be ignored. Why face the hard facts about the world when there are plenty of shiny new things to purchase? When people are no longer able to connect with each other and cherish their relationship, mourning no longer exists.
If you can’t remember the last time you disconnected from the electronic world, read Feed.
Anderson, M. T. Feed. Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2002. Kindle edition.