In Shakespeare’s time, new words were created, giving people new ways of expressing themselves. In 1903, the Wright brothers successfully flew the first working airplane, giving people the possibility to fly. But perhaps our most ingenious inventions are that of the computer and the internet. These now key components to daily life are constantly throwing advertisements at us, ever assessing what our likes and dislikes are, and constantly giving more and more of our “private information” to big corporations. In ‘Feed’, the novel by M. T.
Anderson, we are taken a step towards our possible future, where computers have become so integral to our society that they are now implanted in our heads, connected to our brains. This is called the feed. While this seems like a wonderful innovation, Anderson reveals the detriment all this new technology is causing our society. The feed, and inventions like it, are causing the collapse of our culture, the dilution of our language, and the complete destruction of our environment. Our culture is largely based on the notion of uniqueness.
People like to know that there is something that makes them different from everyone else. We see it in the masses of people dyeing, cutting and puncturing themselves to show individuality. However, it seems more and more that what makes us unique becomes commonplace once it is categorized, labeled, and branded by corporations. This is taken to the extreme in ‘Feed’. Everything you buy, or even look at, is taken in by your feed, and creates a customer profile that is sent to corporations to be evaluated. The knowledge is then used to sort you into marketing demographic. It’s like a spiral: They keep making everything more basic so it will appeal to everyone. And gradually, everyone gets used to everything being basic, so we get less and less varied as people, more simple. So the corps make everything even simpler. And it goes on and on (Pg 97). ” This means that because of our supposed innovations, we are losing key parts of our culture, of who we are. In the book, there is a character named Violet Durn, who realizes what the feed is doing to people; “Because of the feed, we’re raising a nation of idiots.
Ignorant, self- centered idiots (Pg 113). ” She tries to fight the simplification of society by “…trying to create a customer profile that’s so screwed, no one can market to it (Pg 98). ” However, we see that by choosing to be unique, Violet has to suffer the consequences when corporations refuse to fix a malfunction in her feed, simply because she doesn’t fit into their marketing demographic. Being unique is scorned by her society, ultimately demonstrating the end of culture. Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing (Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28). ” How often do you see someone use words as meaningfully or as masterfully as Shakespeare? How many people know what pulchritudinous means these days? Technology has further spurned the human need for efficiency. It has become easier to use abbreviations and symbols instead of using words to express true feelings.
In ‘Feed’, we are shown a world that has a plethora of knowledge available instantaneously through the feed, and despite this access, people are unable to string a sentence together. “Then Marty said, “Okay- just- let’s- okay- let’s- fuckin’- fuckin’- just let’s play (pg 201). ” Anderson demonstrates to us that because knowledge has become commonplace, people who apply this knowledge become ridiculed. When Violet describes her feelings, eloquently and descriptively, using words that the people around are unfamiliar with, they her treat her disparagingly. Loga said, “Put that in your metizabism. ” Calista said “What’s a metizabism? ” “Oh sorry. I thought it was good to use stupid, long words that no one can understand. ” (Pg 164)” When the feed was first invented, it was meant to be a learning tool. But it becomes a way of making people less intelligent, because access to knowledge is not access to intelligence. Everyone with a feed has access to every word in the dictionary, but it takes a basic intelligence, which humans now lack, to use those words in our everyday language.
We are faced with the question; is it worth gaining new technology if we, in return, lose so much intelligence? We have butchered language enough. What else must we destroy to realize that enough is enough? Our environment is certainly suffering for our convenience. Right now, global warming is a constant threat, due to us polluting the water we drink, the earth we stand on, even the very air we breathe. In ‘Feed’, our planet has gone past repair. The oceans are dead, no longer supporting the yet undiscovered amount of underwater species that once lived there. “They went whale hunting.
It was just old people and old ships and the whales, and the whales’ lamination, which… was a non- organic covering that made it possible for them to live in the sea (Pg 280). ” The last trees are being cut down to build tree factories, and people are dying because of mysterious diseases. “Everything was not always going well, because for most people, our hair fell out and we were bald, and we had less and less skin (pg 278). ” The nonchalance of which this is spoken shows us how humanity has grown to accept these events as commonplace, instead of the disasters they are.
However, Anderson shows that humans will still possess the need for control, as demonstrated by the Neighborhood Coalition, a group of people who decide on the weather patterns for their neighborhood. This is an attempt to pretend everything is all right, even though people are surrounded by proof that they are in serious trouble. An example of this is lesions that are appearing on people’s bodies. Instead of people seeing them as a warning that the planet is becoming unfit to live on, they become part of fashion. “…and the stars of (the show) Oh? Wow! Thing!
Has got lesions, so lesions were hip now, real hip, and mine looked like a million dollars (Pg 147). ” Anderson warns us that this will be our future if we do not invest in the technology that will actually benefit the planet. Technology certainly benefits us; giving us ways to reach loved ones across the globe, helping us find the cure for life- threatening diseases. However, when technology is used simply to entertain us, it only benefits the people selling the products. It causes our culture to become eradicated, brainwashed into what the corporations want us to be.
It causes our language diminished, opting for succinctness instead of articulation. It does nothing to stop our planet from becoming mutilated. However, we can turn this around by not becoming so consumed by technology that we can’t imagine life without it. “Before (the feed), they had to use their hands and their eyes (Pg 47). ” Do we really want to become so ignorant and withheld from the problems around us that we let ourselves be destroyed? We need to decide when vicissitude goes past the point of aiding us, and becomes inimical to our society.