The idea that new technologies make our lives worse and humans less intelligent is a common idea posed in today’s technologically dependent world. This question is a prevalent theme in the novel Feed by M.T Anderson. This view of thinking is called technological determinism. Technological determinists say that every problem or solution that technology provides is blamed on the technology itself and disregards the aspects of societal changes and interests. The technology discussed in Feed has produced a dystopian world in ecological and political crisis that is filled with brainwashed humans.
Feed takes place in a futuristic world where humans have “the feed” installed into their brains. The feed provides the humans with constant streams of advertising and information and also controls some of their basic bodily functions. In the fictional world of Feed, the demise of human intelligence by the hand of technology is evident. The world in which the characters live is also noticeably falling to pieces in environmental as well as political terms. The feed was created by the very large and powerful companies that govern this world and is installed in most of the humans upon birth. The feed is a tool of these companies to brainwash the humans into thinking that the world is in a good state even though mostly everything is artificial. The feed does everything from profile the user as a consumer to offer up a descriptive word when a character can’t remember. The feed amplifies the effects of a consumerist society. There is no longer school, as we know it but now School ™. In this artificial school the students learn, “about how to work technology and how to find bargains and what’s the best way to get a job and how to decorate our bedroom.” (110) The school is run by the big corporations and uses the feed as a teaching aid as well as the subject the students are educated on. There are not even real teachers anymore due to budget cuts. When Violet shows Titus that she can write he is stunned and says that he can only read a little and he wonders why she doesn’t just use the feed because it is faster. Writing in the feed allows for instant “chatting” between people without even speaking aloud. This act of chatting while in the same room clearly represents the demise of social interactions that are culturally valued in today’s world. Violet says, “Because of the feed, we’re raising a nation of idiots. Ignorant, self- centered idiots.” (112)
The effects of the technology the conglomerates have created have done more harm than good. The Global Alliance says, “the physical and biological integrity of the earth relies at this point upon the dismantling of American-based corporate entities, whatever the cost.” They have polluted the earth and have put superficial Band-Aids on these problems. The “fashionableness” of the lesions is popularized by the feed. These lesions seem to be a result of Earth’s deteriorating ecological system. It seems that if the corporations can genetically engineer meat farms and create a piece of technology as advanced as the feed then they should be able to come up with technology to clean up the environment and heal the lesions. However, when the doctors are attempting to heal Titus and his friends after their feeds are corrupted, the doctor says, “Okay. Could we like get a thingie, a reading on his limbic activity?” (669) Clearly even the professions that are valued as expert are reliant on their connections to the feed to supply them with words and ideas. This means that likely everyone is one hundred percent reliant on the feed and because of this it is hard to have thoughts of their own. If the experts cannot think for themselves then solutions to fix the problems that the feed creates are not likely to be discovered.
Violet characterizes a person who is completely dependent of the feed. She is not dependent for superficial reasons like the other characters are but is dependent for the basic bodily functions the feed provides. When her feed is compromised at the beginning of the book she experiences many complications and eventually dies because it is broken. The book says that seventy three percent of Americans have feeds and even though that is a majority, other parts of the world seem to not have feeds as well. These people without feeds seem to be suffering more than the people with feeds because there is no voice in their head to put a positive spin on the horrific happenings in the world.
The feed and all of the other technology created in this disastrous world clearly aided in its downfall. M.T Anderson’s Feed represents some of the worst possible outcomes that technology can have on society. His satire comments on current societies dependence on technology and many parallels can be drawn between the fictional world of Feed and modern day Earth.