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FeedCover

Front cover of an edition of Feed.

Feed (ISBN 9780763662622) is a young adult science fiction novel by M.T. Anderson. It was first published in 2002. The novel explores a speculative society in which a form of world wide web, called the “feed,” is nearly omnipresent and explores how the feed affects society. The themes included are consumerism, education, individuality, and popular culture.

The action takes place sometime in the future, when America has been all but taken over by corporations. Three-quarters of the population have feed connections implanted in their brains, giving the citizens instant access to any information they need. It also gives corporations instant access to information about their customers. America is declining as the environment falls apart and its citizens get dumber and dumber by relying on the feed and corporations to take care of everything. The novel is the story of two young adults living in that society and struggling to escape the omnipresent commercialism and rampant stupidity.

Plot

Titus and his friends spend their spring break on the moon, which turns out to “totally suck”. While having fun in a low-gravity bar, Titus meets a girl named Violet Durn and invites her to a party later. At the party, they are all infected with a virus by an anti-feed protester from the Coalition of Pity. They wake up later in a hospital with their feeds shut down.

In the hospital, Titus comes to like Violet, who is clearly different from the rest of his friends. She is far less fazed by the loss of the feed than the others, and she shows Titus what the world outside the feed is like. They form a relationship in the hospital while they wait for their feeds to be fixed.

Once the feed is fixed and they’re released, things quickly go back to normal. Titus and Violet continue to develop their relationship, and Violet continues to show Titus the negative influence of the feed and the rampant consumerism. Titus rationalizes most of Violet’s arguments away. Violet still manages to convince Titus to help her mess up the data mining that companies do by monitoring consumers’ habits through the feed. For all of one day, they go through as many stores as possible, acting interested in a wide variety of products and services that they never actually buy.

Titus invites Violet to a party that Quendy throws to celebrate their feeds being fixed. At the party, Violet reveals to Titus that her feed has been more badly damaged that his or the others’.

Titus returns to School™. School™ is the corporation-run entity that has replaced public schooling, and primarily teaches its students how to spend their money wisely. Titus is depressed because he feels inferior to Violet, and his parents buy him a new upcar to cheer him up.

Titus and Violet visit Beef Country and walk in the fields of beef-tissue. Titus also meets Violet’s eccentric father, who speaks very formally and doesn’t have his own internal feed connection. Violet’s home shows that she and her father are poor.

Titus, Violet, and their friends try to rip off Coca-Cola by exploiting a sails pitch (every time someone mentions coke a hundred times, they get one free). The girls show up in the latest fashion, which is riot gear. They are completely ignorant of their particular clothing’s historical significance, which Violet tries to point out. Between that and Violet’s intelligent discussion of Coke, they all, except Titus, feel like she’s putting on airs and make fun of her. Titus takes Violet home, and on the way they fight, and Violet tells Titus that her feed is seriously damaged and she might die. Her limbs begin seizing occasionally.

A few days later, they go to another party. They are both disgusted by Quendy, who has gotten fake lesions like Calista, but all over her body. To get away from the others for a while, Titus and Violet go to the attic and talk. Violet interprets the discussion to be about the degradation of America. They go back downstairs to play spin the bottle, but Violet breaks down, screaming at everyone there until she collapses and has to be taken to the hospital.

Violet’s feed begins to deteriorate more, and in the hospital its efficiency is shown to be a low 53%. Treatment brings her to stable levels and Titus talks to her before he leaves.

Violet is released from the hospital but her feed continues to deteriorate. As it deteriorates, Violet begins to lose memories. She sends everything she can to Titus, but he is overwhelmed and simply deletes them without reviewing any of them. Her body locks up more often, and she petitions FeedTech for repairs, since her father can’t afford it. Violet sends Titus a long list of things she wants to do before she dies. Towards the end, the list becomes a fantasy about the life she wants to have with Titus instead of the reality of him coming to visit her just enough to satisfy his conscience. Titus reviews the whole list over time.

Titus and his friends go into mal and in their high end up discussing Violet’s list. In his guilt, still high, Titus goes to visit Violet, but when he arrives he comes down from his high and passes out. Violet shares a memory with Titus: FeedTech rejected her petition on the grounds that she was not a “good investment”: they couldn’t create an accurate customer profile for her because of her earlier antics messing with their data mining. The news comes just after Violet’s legs malfunction and she falls down the stairs.

Violet visits Titus and they end up in a hotel. Violet tries to have sex with him but Titus rejects her. They fight and break up.

The summer goes by with Titus dating Quendy. The strange lesions caused somehow by the feed get worse, and everyone starts getting the same glitches in their extremities that Violet got. His father goes on a whaling expedition and returns. Finally, towards the end of the summer, Titus gets a message from Violet’s father saying that it was “all over”. Violet is in an irreversible coma. Her father berates Titus, blaming him for her condition, but Titus denies responsibility by insisting that Violet wanted to come to the party where she got infected because she wanted to really live. They argue, and Titus leaves. At home, Titus sits naked in his room. An advertisement for jeans appears and Titus buys them until he runs out of money.

Later, Titus visits Violet for the last time. Her father is a wreck, and Titus avoids him, speaking instead directly to Violet as she lays, still comatose. He tells her stories that he hears from the feed, both news blurbs and shows or movie clips. Finally, he tells her their story like a trailer for a movie. The book ends with an advertisement for jeans.

Advertising in "Feed"

M.T. Anderson uses what is called “Feed” or in other words advertisements placed in each characters head put there by the government. Surprisingly this extreme form of advertising is similar to what we us experience in everyday life. Studies show that on average, we see around 3,000 advertisements per day. Advertisements can be seen anywhere from gas pumps and movie theaters to bathrooms and sporting events. Ads are virtually everywhere to the point where the feed that these characters get doesn’t seem so farfetched. Ambient advertising refers to ads placed in public places; between the cost of traditional media and the competition today, advertisers seek new ways to catch people’s attention. In places like elevators, park benches, and even into the sand on beaches. Marketers want to get their message across as successfully and easily as they possibly can and this book shows just that. The feed is placed in every single person’s brain is a constant reminder of products that they could buy and they are so repetitive that eventually the ads take effect and serve their purpose. Titus’ feed seems to be working normally, but Violets feed is not at all what it’s supposed to be. No one can figure out why her feed does not affect her the way it does to others. The feed works by registering and playing products and services that particular person would be interested in but in her case that does not happen at all. Similar to today, some advertisements reach a certain audience while others don’t. It all depends on the target audience the advertiser is trying to reach. Digital or “virtual” advertising is known as advertisements using computer technology. This form of advertising is seen more and more especially with the recent technological advances. As farfetched and out of this world as “Feed” may sound, when us we look around we can’t help but have more similarities than differences and sooner than later will be experience our own world of “Feed”.

Sociological aspects

How the feed affects society

In the book Feed by M.T. Anderson, the technology in America has truly advanced. There is Feednet which is like the internet today but more advanced to the point where it is able to be placed into a small computer chip and implanted into the brain. This becomes known as “the feed”. The feed is what helps them receive all their information. It makes everyone reliable on technology and there is no privacy because the 70% of Americans that have the feed implanted in their brains, their thoughts can always be monitored and their thoughts are constantly interrupted by pop-up ads. Nature is also affected by the feed. There is so much pollution that the atmosphere and Earth are being destroyed. There can only be fake clouds now that the atmosphere will not allow actual clouds to form. The ocean is not even safe enough. There is so much contamination in the ocean that the whales have to be covered in plastic. Most feeds are implanted at an early age, leaving the feed to take over the way the brain functions as they get older. “The feed” pretty much takes over all aspects of life and characters and people are not even allowed to think freely because they are not at liberty to do so.

How they adjust to the feed (new technology)

Society adjusts well to the feed because it is all they begin to know and what they use to gain knowledge of everything. They become so well adjusted that they don’t really know how to think for themselves anymore. This new technology is just how we accept everything that is developed (i.e. television, computers, the Internet, cell phones, etc.) In the novel, they use a medium called M-chat, which is like instant messaging today.

Relation to society today

In the book, one of the characters Calista gets a lesion which is like a welt. One of the guy characters likes it leading Quendy to get jealous. She comes back to a party covered in them. This shows how women will do silly things to their bodies if they find that men or boys think it is attractive (i.e. the plastic surgery craze) Relying on the feed to do everything is similar in today’s world because youth use the Internet for everything. This novel just seems to be a glimpse into the future or just how the author believes technology will change our lives, the way we live, and the world around us.

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