In Feed by M.T. Anderson, Titus is a teenager with a feed. A feed is a computer implanted in the brain which is used similarly to a smartphone. The story takes place in the United States as well as the Moon, roughly one hundred years in the future. Titus and his friends receive suggestions, such as advertisements, from the feed on what products to purchase and venues to visit. Titus’ love interest Violet is against the feed and her and Titus discover the damage that the feed is really causing throughout the novel.
The feed constantly streams media such as shows, radio, and advertisements, in the user’s head. Titus and his friends live by the feed. Anything they desire, the feed reads and gives them. As he and his friends party on the moon, he meets Violet. At a nightclub, Titus, Violet, and his friends get hacked into and they all must have their feeds turned off. We learn that if the feed becomes damaged, so does the user’s brain.
This is a traumatic experience for them because they must live like normal humans until they are re-activated. They stay in the hospital and have their feeds turned back on finally. They go back home to the United States shortly after. Titus and Violet deepen their relationship and begin to fall in love. As Titus is getting to know her, he discovers she comes from a poor family, whereas his family is wealthy. She is also a “traditionalist” which is defined in the novel as someone who can read, write and knows how to do other normal, human things.
The feed does not dominate her life and because of this, she does not fit in with Titus’ friends. As Titus becomes closer to Violet, he pulls away from his friends and sees their immaturity. Violet believes the feed makes the human race stupid and simple. She tries to fight the feed by conducting an experiment to confuse the feed.
Due to the hack mentioned earlier, Violet is dying. She continually becomes paralyzed and knows she will die soon. This devastates Titus, since they are falling in love. At a party, she goes into convulsions and completely malfunctions. As days go by, different areas of her body freeze. Titus cannot handle this intense situation and they break up. He moves onto another girl and goes back to being immature and silly with his friends. When she is completely brain dead, he goes to see her and reads her facts, stories and political news. He resists the feed as he tells her these things. He then tells their story is one of two teenagers in love who learn to resist the feed.
Titus is the narrator of the novel. Titus is naïve. He is willing to blindly follow the feed in whatever it tells him to do. He makes all of his judgments and gains all of his knowledge directly from it. Titus is also wealthy. He comes from a rich family and can easily take trips to the moon, (which is a vacation spot in this time period) and can afford to make any impulse purchase that the feed offers him. Titus is unintelligent as well, he was designed by his parents who were able to manipulate his genetics for beauty while neglecting to give him intelligence during his fetal development.
Violet is the girl that Titus meets at a club on the moon. She is very observant. She brings up many things such as the disappearance of forests and the manipulation of the government and education system by the company that produces the feed, which most other people overlook. Violet is also traditional due to her college professor father’s influence. She was taught many things that most people in the time period of this story are not. She, unlike many others, can perform her daily tasks without the feed and is able to read and write. Violet is also intelligent, she was homeschooled and studies all different things with her father. She also seeks education outside of what her father teaches her.
Violet’s father is a college professor. He is a wise man. He raised his daughter to live life without the feed and he gives insight into why the feed should not be as prevalent in society. He is also old-school as his interactions and education style are without the feed or any technology. He owns a very old model of the feed which is rarely used and removable from the body. He is also very educated to the extent that he reads, writes, and studies dead languages. He is what humans used to be without the feed. He speaks in very complicated sentences with difficult vocabulary that no one can understand. He is a major influence on why Violet behaves the way she
(In Titus’s thoughts he says:) “I wanted to say something to cheer her up. I had a feeling that cheering her up might be a lot of work. I was thinking of how sometimes, trying to say the right thing to people, it’s like some kind of brain surgery, and you have to tweak exactly the right part of the lobe. Except with talking, it’s more like brain surgery with old, rusted skewers and things, maybe like those things you use to eat lobster, but brown. And you have to get exactly the right place, and you’re touching around in the brain but the patient, she keeps jumping and saying, “Ow.” ― M.T. Anderson, Feed
Violet finds out that she will not be receiving treatment for her brain damage and becomes very upset. Here we see Titus, who is at a loss of words in trying to console Violet. He has a very hard time trying to help and it becomes frustrating. It eventually becomes so hard top bear with that he leaves her. This passage is important because it is sometimes hard to help people who are in need of mental support, but we need to do it for our friends, loved ones, and family. Titus would later return to her with regret, but she had become brain dead and it was too late. The significance of having someone be there for you is very crucial, and Titus failed to do that.
This book is an eye-opener to the possibility of the corporate influence and technological influence in the United States becoming damaging to the point where we become nothing but uneducated consumers. I found this book interesting because it portrays America and the U.S. becoming a much weaker nation due to our lifestyles where beauty, material goods, and technology are valued over education and the environment. Given that this book written in 2002 when smartphones were not present nor was social networking, it has already become true to some extent.
Many people rely on their smartphones for the simplest task and could not go a day without them. Targeted advertising is a real thing that is common to anyone who online shops. The predictions made in the book become more and more real as time passes so it is very interesting to read this book and get some insight to the down side of being connected to the internet constantly. I definitely recommend reading it as it really does make you think twice about how often you rely on phones and the internet for tasks such as socializing, impulse shopping, or education.