Longer Essay #1: Feed

 

            Feed, a novel by M. T. Anderson addresses many questions that today are constantly being asked about the role of technology in society. Although it does not bring forth a clear answer, mostly because there is not one, it provides an additional interpretation that sets it aside from most other parodies and predictions of the future. In addition to answering a variety of different stereotypical questions about the future Anderson also presents the viewer with a question about change in the human nature. One can first observe how kids in the future act, to then be able to answer if the nature of the human beings change in the future because of the new technologies that would be available to us.

Anderson does this most effectively by creating a narrative line that presents the everyday life of an average American of the future. This is an aspect that sets it aside from over futuristic novels like Neuromancer, which is about people that are not considered average in that particular future. As a result, novels like Neuromancer make it harder to consider whatever these characters think and do as the most typical features of the general human population. Thus in Feed, overall the reader will conclude, setting aside the extreme differentiations between the human environment, there are aspects of the human personality and life that remain the same.

On the surface, for example, one can see that the typical day of a teenager consists of many daily activities that are iconic of today’s American life. It is something that at first may be glossed over like the fact that that they go to school, have a spring break, go to parties on weekends, get their first car, but these are activities that by many are imagined to be lost in the future. Yes, with statements like “You write?” (Anderson, 65) and by showing how their curriculum has become worthless, how budget cuts left the students with hologram teachers, and how schools have transformed into a sort of corporation with the trademark label TM Anderson uses school fundamentally as a platform to illustrate how he thinks society will become dumber but these cornerstones that are still present today gives a reader a sense of familiarity. Sometimes many assume that the future, in all senses, will be completely unknown, but Anderson offers a future that is not completely cut off from the present and familiar.

Another way to observe the continuance of many social factors in the future is by observing the relationship between Titus and Violet. Quotes like “I was playing with the magnets on my boots trying not to look at her” (Anderson, 20) seemed like something exerted out of one of today’s popular chick flick films. It was also interesting how through their whole relationship they never had sex. Today it seems that the more time passes the more liberal society gets, and in Anderson’s interpretation of the future society did not seem that much more liberal. Even while looking at the family dynamic, although Titus’s parents were eccentric and spoke as poorly as the children, they seemed to treat their children in a fairly similar way.

All these parallels become clear after reading Anderson’s end not about feed. He claimed, “My intentions wasn’t really to predict future tech – but instead, to think about cultural conditions as they already were then,” (Anderson, 305) which makes it clear that he tried to tie in today’s social conditions to the future. He even claimed to have gotten lines from the novels by listening to people talk in the mall. It was completely intentional, but it also seems like he brought many of the aspects of today’s society, which are elaborated on above, unintentionally. Anderson was particularly was trying to concentrate on consumerism and expressed it in the novel through the new high-tech feed. Thus, leaving similarities like Titus and Violet’s relationship were not necessary in order to express the anxieties of consumerism. It seems like it was done unconsciously.

The novel brings forth another way to interpret the future. It does answer questions like does technology make us smarter or dumber, but by trying to tie today’s consumerist culture with the future Anderson brings forth a completely different angle. One is able to answer if human relations and daily life going to change drastically in the future and the answer Anderson gives is no. Yes, there are going to be drastic changes, but even with the feed it seems like humans really did not change.

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