In this day and age we are truly a digital society. Everywhere you look people are accessing the world wide web via smartphones, tablets and computers. They are constantly checking social media in an attempt to keep one step ahead of the latest fashions and famous faces. Even this blog itself would not be able to be accessed if it weren’t for digital media.
In Feed by M.T. Anderson, title character Titus is just one of these kinds of people. His abilities to read, write, and even think for himself have all but vanished, decimated by his “feed” – a transmitter directly implanted in his brain that gives him a constant connection to the web at large. Having a feed is crucial for Titus and his friends, those who don’t have one are considered an oddity and are often ridiculed. Feeds are important because how else is one to know the latest fads and fashions? How else is one to know where the best bargains are or the best places to party on the moon? Titus believes himself happy with his circle of friends until he meets Violet. She’s concerned with the world outside of the feed, something Titus and his friends have never considered. When she challenges what they have been told to think and believe, Titus begins to wonder if perhaps it’s time to fight the feed.
Feed has won several awards for young adult literature and reading it, it’s easy to see why. It’s a challenging read, asking the reader to question their own relationship with the digital world just as Titus and Violet do. It practically forces the reader to take an unbiased look at our own society and it’s reliance on social media and to ponder what could possibly happen.
Much as I enjoyed Feed, I also found it difficult for two main reasons.
First is writing style. Told in the first person by Titus, a typical teenage boy, the narrative tends to skip around a lot. Having been told how and what to think for his entire life, he has a very small attention span. He jumps from topic to topic never staying long. Any one who has spoken to a teenager for any length of time will know how this feels. As someone who is twice Titus’ age I found it aggravating. Were I closer to his age I might have been able to follow him a bit better.
Second, and probably more importantly, is how close to home this story can hit for some. Every day we are bombarded with commercials and adverts on the tv, in print media and on the computer. Ads tell us over and over “Buy me! Buy me!”, we are told we’ll be healthier, happier, more popular if we have that one product. Titus and his friends are bombarded with information like this all the time and slowly so are we. It is only a matter of time before we are having the information beamed directly in to our brains.
Whatever it’s final meaning, Feed is a glimpse in to the ‘What if’s?’ and ‘What would happen?’ of our society. It holds a mirror up allowing us to take a harsh look at our reliance on social media and it’s possible eventual outcome. Difficult to read at some points but definitely one that makes you think.