Ooh this book. What to say that hasn’t already been said? It should definitely be read by everyone – from the tweens with their Ipads to the older cynics who think technology will be the end of us all. The latter will probably feel very justified in reading this, I’m sure.
The thing is, though, Feed is not a critique about technology, but more a critique on how we use that technology.
Its protagonist is Titus, a teen-aged boy whose main concern is to enjoy life. He has his equally fun-loving friends, his reliable connection to the feed, which keeps him clued in on all the new trends, and a wealthy family to maintain his trendy lifestyle. Enter: Violet, a girl who’s not as big a fan of the feed as Titus is. She’s about to show him just how fault his connection to it is, revealing the questionable aims behind the system that their society is based on. She overwhelms Titus, offering answering to questions he doesn’t even know are possible, exposing his ignorance about his own mental connection to the feed.
Anderson shows we all have a bit of Titus in us. Let’s be real – how many of us truly know the workings behind the many social platforms we use? How it might benefit or harm us? And do we know how it might benefit or harm others? Or do we just blindly accept what is given to us? We blindly walk into the internet, and then blindly accuse when we become entangled.
Feed looks at how this blindness can cause an infinite string of problems, not just for ourselves, but for those we leave behind. In Feed, everyone is mentally connected to the internet. And in reality, we’re only a step away. We’re already on our phones/laptops/devices pretty much from the moment we wake up to even after our head hits the pillow. We’re always being hit by a stream of information and advertisement.
But the thing is, this stream is never going to stop. It’s tireless and relentless, and we’re the only ones who end up being tired. But that doesn’t mean we can’t filter it. Critical consumption should be a habit taught from a young age. It was necessary before the internet, and it’s necessary more than ever now.It’s not simply about feeding your brain, but about nourishing it, too.
Feed ends on a hopeful note. It may not seem like it. It does have its tragic undertones, but I think in the character of Violet, and especially her father, Anderson was showing how the inability to adapt can prove detrimental.
The solution to the devastation that technology can wreck is not avoidance. And why would you want to avoid it? Technology has achieved amazing things. I worked as an online tutor awhile back, connecting with kids who lived in a different country than me. These kids could log on, and get access to help on any subject. It cut out travel costs, hourly fees, and socioeconomic barriers. That would have been unthinkable even ten years ago.
Technology can be dangerous, but it can also be amazing. It’s up to us to decide which it should be.