While M.T. Anderson’s novel FEED is intended for young adults it delves into territory that any one could benefit from examining. Anderson’s novel examines the role of technology through his near future dystopia. This book addresses several issues but one of the most important is the question of how technology shapes both the individual and the society. He examines this phenomenon in his book though the use of the Feed, a network of which all the characters are connected and force feed digital information and commercials. The major question that is asked of the reader is, does technology help or inhibit people?
Anderson looks at this question through the lens of the dystopian society he created. His protagonist Titus is the character he uses the most to address this question. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the final passages of the story. In these final scenes the reader sees Titus’s interaction with his dying love Violet. In these passages the reader can gain a better understanding of how distanced Titus and other characters in the story had become from their own feeling. Titus is unable to express his emotions with out the help of the feed. He is only able to speak to her in the same way the Feed had “spoken” to him. The Feed had greatly influenced both his thought process and ability to express himself. The first example of this can be seen when he goes to Violet’s bedside for the final time. “I tried to talk just to her. I tried not to listen to the noise on the feed, the girls in wet shirts offering me shampoo.” (Anderson p. 296) The reader can see how immersive the Feed is. It is embedded in his consciousness and even during such an emotional event he is unable to control it.
This is the first aspect of the question that Anderson addresses during these final sections of the text. He examines the anesthetized nature of technology. It makes people numb to their emotions. This is shown through Titus’s struggle with keeping the Feed out of his final moments with Violet. The passage goes on and Titus begins to tell Violet the “stories.” The lines I told her that the Global Alliance had issued more…major cites in South America.” (Anderson p. 296) These lines while seeming insignificant are actually very important to understanding Titus’s interaction with Violet at the end of the story. He tells her these fragmented stories in the same way that one would interact with something like a television. It is almost as if he is channel flipping and just catching bits of stories. He tells them to Violet in small fractals. He is unable to relate to her in a human way. Anderson is using this section to address the reliance that comes from dependence on technology.
Even today we can see examples of this in society. Technology has made human interactions seem taboo. A perfect example of this can be seen in today’s youth culture, who are reliant on the use of text messages and other forms of digital communication. Many people of the younger generation would much rather send a text then interact with some one in person. Many would rather send a text then call. This disillusion and distancing from human interaction is one of the major complications of technology, more importantly communication technology.
Anderson goes on in this section to further address this distance that technology has created. He has Titus format the story of their love through the lens of a movie trailer. Titus tells Violet their story but does it in a way that mirrors the form of movie trailers. “It’s about the feed,’ I said. ‘ It’s about this meg normal guy, who doesn’t think about anything until one wacky day…and mild sexual situations.” (Anderson p.297-298) Through this description we can see another example of Anderson showing Titus’s inability to interact on a human level. Titus has become so disillusioned and affected by the Feed that he is unable to truly express his feelings. This is the problem that Anderson is trying to address in this section of the story. It is the inability to interact with other humans because of the barriers that have been placed by technology. Technology has dehumanized interactions in our daily lives. FEED takes this to the next level by amplifying the characters feelings of isolation and lack of communication. Anderson is taking communication that has been warped and twisted by technology, and taking it to the next level. Anderson’s characters are unable to communicate without the implicit influence of technology.
This idea is cemented in the final words of the book, an advertisement for sale jeans. “Feeling blue? Dress Blue! It’s Blue-jean warehouse’s Final Sales Event! Stock is just flying off the shelves at prices so low you won’t believe your feed! Everything must go!” (Anderson p. 299)
This final advertisement helps to punch home Anderson’s idea of technological dependence for communication within the story and within our society.