Feed by M.T. Anderson
“I don't know when they first had feeds. Like maybe, fifty or a hundred years ago. Before that, they had to use their hands and their eyes. Computers were all outside the body. They carried them around outside of them, in their hands, like if you carried your lungs in a briefcase and opened it to breathe.” Feed. M.T. Anderson
Feed is the kind of book that stays with you. It’s the kind of story that serves as a benchmark- a post by which you measure other events in your life, stories that you hear, things you read on the internet. It’s a book that’s hard to shake. It’s disturbing and cynical and kind of hilarious the way a fever dream can be all of those things.
Feed is the story of Titus, a teenage boy who lives in a hyper-connected future Earth where everyone has an information feed hard-wired in their brains. Titus and his friends are constantly inundated with information through the Feednet. They can chat with each other or watch t.v. shows like, “Oh? Thing! Wow!” But mostly they are subject to a constant barrage of consumer information. The Feed is an integration of technology and biology that started out as a great technological innovation, but ended up creating a population of distracted, ill-informed, inarticulate consumers. The planet is dying or dead, everyone is sick and none of Titus’s friends are too worried about it.
The story begins on the Moon, where Titus and his friends have gone for spring break, despite it’s horrible lameness. When a protester hijacks their feeds, they are taken offline and sent to recuperate in a hospital. That’s when Titus falls for Violet, a beautiful, smart girl who chooses to fight the feed.
Feed was written 11 years ago. It’s a little scary how close to the bone M.T Anderson cuts in this book, considering it was written before most people were familiar with social media. Reading Feed, it’s hard to believe it was written before Facebook and Twitter.
An excellent review of this book by Tony McMillan of DigBoston (linked below) says, "...ultimately the thrust of this novel is not how thoroughly communication technology and its marriage with consumer culture rots our intelligence, it’s how deeply it rots our compassion." I think it’s also about how this marriage eats away at what makes us human; our ability to be present, to connect with other people, to reason. All of this connection tends to make us disconnect from where we are and what is happening to us right now. Feed is what happens when we aren't paying attention.
Feed is available in the “New” section in the teen room. The call number is YA F AND.
Tony McMillan’s exceptional review of M.T Anderson’s Feed can be found here.