By Matthew Purday
Feed by M.T. Anderson was first written in 2001 and I have just finished reading the 2012 paperback edition. It is a book set in a dystopian world of decay and consumerism where people “get their news, entertainment, and shopping tips from electronic transmitters implanted into their brains.”
This idea reminded me a little of Brainjack (published in 2009) by Brian Falkner with his neuro-headsets replacing computer keyboards. The atmosphere of the book also had the feel of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. Both these books are dystopian novels set in a society where individuals are rebelling against a government, which has imposed a repressive way of life on its citizens reinforced through constant propaganda. Feed, however, has no sinister “Big Brother”dictating behaviour, instead there is FeedTech and Weatherbee & Crotch with its sales, and lakes that light up with ” a picture of a smiling brain and broadcasted “Dynacom Inc” when you looked at it”.
In Feed Violet and Titus meet on the moon looking for fun. Titus has always had “the feed” in his brain, but Violet didn’t get hers installed until she was a little girl and this causes problems, both physiological and mental, as she tries to be a normal teen.
M.T. Anderson explains that the inspiration for his book came from being a teen driven crazy by “ads, TV shows, and movies nudging [him] with images of the high life, playing on [his] desire to belong”.
“If you just get this, and buy this, and order that, you’ll be cool, and you’ll be loved. See how much fun these kids are having? If you want to be wanted, then you need to want what other people want. And other people – what they want is this. Buy it. Buy it now”. Does this sound futuristic? How about Guardian Goggles delivering journalism to you straight between the eyes?
At least you can take Goggles off, unlike a chip in the brain! By the way, just in case you didn’t notice the story about the Goggles was published on April Fools Day.