Consumerism and the Power of Technology in Novel "Feed"

The novel ‘Feed’ by M.T. Anderson, extensively explores how the impact of consumerism and the power of technology can inhibit individuals ability to love and have meaningful relationships with one another. ‘Feed’ is based in futuristic America, where a microchip (feed) is implanted inside the characters brains at birth, giving its users unlimited internet access and entertainment 24/7, however it’s controlled by the corporations. Anderson wrote the novel from the point of view of Titus, the main character who learns a valuable lesson on how the love for one another is more important than the love and addiction for the feed. Titus falls in love Violet, a girl who has a vastly different world perspective and is aware of the deteriorating environment. It is through the narrative of Titus, Anderson enables his audience to imagine a corrupt world, where society is taken over by corporate control technology.

The cost of consumerism reveals what society has come to and how human commodity portrays the lack of power individuals have over their brains within the control of the feed. Throughout the novel, Anderson made it clear that the corporations use the feed to control the population’s behaviour, by “nudging” them into spending money on products they don’t need and addicting them to a constant stream of entertainment. The irony of consumerism is evident when Titus was “wheeling around a wheelbarrow full of giant hot cross buns”. Through Titus, the audience can recognise the “stupid things people were buying” as a result of constant awareness of advertisements and banners. However, the naive portrayal of Titus at the beginning juxtaposes to his understanding at the end of the novel. Violet’s different perspective in society has a powerful influence on Titus’ perceptions and values. She attempts to “resist the feed” by showing interest in random products as she’s “not going to let them catalog” her, believing she can become ''invisible”. However, the cost of rebellion overpowered her acts of courage and nature, as at the end of the novel, her demise is purely due to the fact of her not conforming to society's commodifications. Similarly, by after learning from Violet, Titus orders pair after pair of jeans in his own way of rebelling and rejecting the feed. Therefore, through Anderson’s analysis between Violet and Titus’ relationship, the readers are able to understand consumerism is the conflict within the novel since it took away the freedom of individualism.

Like consumerism, Anderson distinctively illustrates the dangers of empowering technology. In ‘Feed’, the corporations use their power to craft society into technology absorbed individuals by controlling all aspects of life. Titus, the protagonist states “Now that schoolTM is run by the corporations, it's pretty brag”, not only does he inform the readers of the disturbing fact that the corporations in charge of education, is also illustrates the degradation of language, as ‘brag’ resembling ‘cool’. Furthermore, the absence of proper education and the reliance on the feed for Titus is evident in a conversation between Titus and his father, 'Oh. Shoot. Yeah, I forgot. No m-chat. Just talking” where Anderson exemplifies to the readers how the power of the feed, makes people forget how to talk with one another as their conversations are shorter and lack emotion. Leaving the readers to feel empathetic, as the ability for Titus think for himself, show affection and have meaningful relationships, all the things that make him human are stripped away by the feed. Therefore, technology is declining natural intelligence and supporting the idea of “the end of civilization”, as language is being corrupted and abandoned as we progress into a consumer driven. Anderson evokes concern for the future of our world today, as people can no longer think for themselves and rely too much on technology, hence he implies to the readers, becoming one with technology should be avoided at all costs.

Furthermore, the corporation controlled consumerist worldview has taken over society so much that there is little care for the global issues. Due to Violet being born without the feed and raised in a household where reading and writing was essential, she was more aware of the deteriorating environment in comparison to Titus and his friends. Violet affirms “Because of the feed, we’re raising a nation of idiots. Ignorant, self-centred idiots,”she informing us readers the world is becoming a chaotic dangerous place thanks to the corrupt corporations. Whereas for Titus, who believes the corporations are doing the right thing, caused them to argue until towards the end of the novel, where Anderson reveals Violet’s humanity and care, changed Titus’ perspective to understand the horrific political state his country was actually in. As a result, he briefly becomes aware one of these issues during a dream, “I saw people praying over missiles”, resembling a metaphor for corporations destroying society and their lack of compassion that leads to a dystopian future, where all natural resources have all been used up. Anderson depicts the use of praying to show the religious perceptions held by the characters to link the idea of conflict to the Global World, in particular the controversy between the USA and the rest of the world.

In conclusion, M.T Anderson's novel ‘Feed’, skilfully achieves his purpose of analysing the impacts of consumerism, the power of technology and the importance of relationships. It is through the point of view of Titus, the protagonist, Anderson was able to successfully engage the audience to link their own society to his immersive narrative world through use of characterisation and language style to portray how society is so reliant on the constant stream of information.  

16 December 2021
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