How Violet Stands Apart: Cause and Effect Essay on Feed
In the futuristic world depicted in Feed by M.T. Anderson, nobody thinks for themselves – the feed thinks for them. Everyone is dependent on the feed and bored with their everyday lives. Because of this, the character Violet stands out. Violet’s unique upbringing caused her to become an educated thinker and excited about life, setting her apart from the rest of the characters. Violet stands outs from the characters in Feed because she was raised differently. Violet did not get her feed installed early in her life like most people did, she “got the feed really late” (Anderson 170) at age seven. Because Violet did not have the feed for several years of her life she is not dependent on it like the other individuals are in the book, making her an uncommon symbol of independence in the dystopian narrative
Violet did not go to School™ like Titus’ friends did; she and her friends were “are all home-schooled” (78). While Titus and his friends were learning how to use the feed at School™, Violet was getting an actual education, learning things that were no longer important in their world. Also, Violet did not have a lot of money growing up. Most of Titus’ friends always got everything they wanted, but Violet didn’t have “much of the stuff you see on the feed when she was younger. A lot of it was too expensive, or her father just said no” (107). Because of the lack of money in Violet’s life she grew up having to find different ways to entertain herself instead of relying on the feed for entertainment. Ultimately, Violet had a diverse childhood than the other characters. The fact that Violet got a different education than most of the characters in Feed sets her apart from them because it made her more intelligent. For example, when Violet asks Titus if he knew how to read, unsurprisingly, he only knows how to “read a little” (Anderson, 65). Violet knows how to read and Titus barley does because he did not learn in School™. Titus is shocked when he asks Violet if she writes because she replies, “I’ve done it since I was little…I write down things I see sometimes” (66). Violet knows how to do these things because her father was a college professor and he taught her how to write and read, even though writing and reading were no longer taught in schools. It is shocking to Titus that Violet would take the time to write something down because using the feed was “way faster” (66), but Violet is used to not using the feed for everything due to getting the feed at a later age.
Violet also pays attention to the news; she asks Titus “Have you heard the news? It’s awful” (244). Because Violet wants to learn more about the world she pays attention to what is going on in their lives. This makes Violet unique because she knows what is going on in the world while the rest of the characters are uninformed. Violet stands out because she is knowledgeable about things that are no longer important in their innovative society. While Violet was homeschooled she was taught to think for herself, unlike the other characters who let the feed think for them. Violet recalls to Titus, “When you have the feed all your life, you’re brought up to not think about things… because of the feed we are raising a nation of idiots” (Anderson 113). Considering that Violet did not always have the feed she knows how to function without it. In contrast, Violet’s peers are reliant on using the feed for almost every task. Also, during a party Violet rants “We are hovering in the air while people are starving… We’re playing games and our skin is falling off. We’re losing it” (201). Due to Violet’s upbringing she is knowledgeable about what is going on in the world. Because Violet is aware of what is happening in the news she does not take the things she has for granted, like the rest of the characters do. Violet then later yells, “You don’t have the feed! You are the feed” (202). Most of the characters are so accustom to using the feed that they are not use to thinking for themselves. The feed is attacking their brains continuously with ads, information, and useless material that they do not know what it is like to live without it. Because Violet did not always have the feed, she knows how to not rely on the feed for everything. The characters are slowly becoming the feed because they no longer know how to think without it.
Violet’s education causes her to think without having to use the feed which makes her stand out from her peers. Violet is the only character that is excited and interested about new experiences because she did not grow up with the same types of things that most people had. For example, when Titus first meets Violet he finds out that “she was on the moon alone…she was there to observe” (Anderson 29). While Titus was bored on the moon with his friends, Violet was there alone having fun and experiencing new things. Titus and his friends took it for granted that they were on the moon when Violet’s father “saved up for a year” (103) to send her there. It was special for Violet to go to the moon because that is something she has never done before. The other characters have traveled to other planets before, so it was not a big deal for them. Also, before Titus takes Violet to a party she asks, “What’ll a party be like?” (78). Violet is eager to go to a party because she has never been to a real high school party before, making it a new experience for her. Even though toward the end of the book Violet does not have much more time to live, she still wants to explore and “go out and see the world. There’s just so much” (175). Despite Violet’s circumstances, she has a positive attitude and is eager for the next adventure in her life.
Considering that Violet didn’t grow up with the same opportunities as her peers, she doesn’t let it discourage her; instead she is excited about what life has to offer. As a result of Violet’s uncommon upbringing, she has distinctly different qualities from the other characters in the book. While most of the characters let the feed control them and their thoughts, Violet does not let this happen. Violet is educated enough to know not to rely on the feed for everything, and the lack of opportunities in her childhood allows her to be excited about life. Consequently, Violet’s peculiar childhood lead her to become eager about learning and discovering what life has to offer.
Anderson, M.T. Feed. Cambridge MA: Candlewick Press, 2002.
Devolution of Human Communication Through Technology: An Analysis of the Society in ‘Feed’
M. T. Anderson’s Feed offers poignant criticism on the technology and its apparent benefits. In a futuristic dystopia, seventy percent of humanity are embedded with the “feed”—a high-tech device which essentially acts as phone and a computer. Through this device people can receive word suggestion, read a dictionary, and contact one another via m-chat (mental chat). While this technology appears extremely helpful, the main character Titus and his friends use the feed as a crutch as they have lost the ability to speak articulately. The word-suggestion aspect of the feed and high-tech society has taken a severe toll on their verbal capabilities as seen by the excessive use of slang-terms and thinking in email format. This change in traditional communication has a severe effect on traditional human interaction as most people no longer speak to one another but rather choose to communicate via their feeds even when standing next to one another. These ramifications due to the technology meant to improve and ease life showcase how as technology evolves, the more humans devolve and lose the ability to communicate and thus lose an important aspect of human life.
A consequence of the humans of Feed having the technology since birth is that they lose the ability to speak-well and articulate their thoughts unaided. Titus constantly requires the help of his feed to find the words he means and struggles to think clearly such as when he could not think of the word “glide”, “for awhile we played a game with the ball, and we were twirling all over the place, and we were like, what it’s called when you skim really close over the surface of something, we were that to the floor, with our arms out” (Anderson 15). This problem appears throughout the novel whether with simplistic or advanced vocabulary such as when he tries to describe Violet’s appearance, “I didn’t know the word. Her spine was like…? The feed suggested ‘supple’” (14). This lack of basic knowledge of language further reveals itself by Titus and his friend’s inability to understand more advanced vocabulary without a dictionary, “You put the ‘supper’ back in ‘suppuration’…he didn’t have any idea what the hell she was talking about either…the rest of us were…looking up “suppuration” on the feed English-to-English wordbook” (33). This reliance on the feed for understanding language—a basic human function—displays the devolution of the human memory, knowledge, and intelligence as humanity can no longer clearly articulate their thoughts or understand one another unassisted.
Instead of using traditional language to communicate then, Titus and his friends simplify language to slang, technology-derived language, and consistent use of the word “thing” to describe the world around them. They shorten words like low-gravity to “lo-grav” and use curse words to fill in that which they do not know. Even adults fall prey to this type of language as seen by Titus’ father unable to clearly describe his meaning, “she’s like, whoa, she’s like so stressed out. This is… Dude,” he said. “Dude, this is some way bad shit” (103). Titus and his friends popularly use the word “thing” when they cannot think of the proper descriptor word, “You broke off a… a thing,” said Marty. “You broke off a fuckin’ thing” (55). Beyond even Titus and his fellow teenagers, professional adults also have this degraded understanding and knowledge of words saying things like “could we get a thingie, a reading on his limbic activity?” (121). Generally, doctors are expected to know the lingo associated with their craft, yet in this feed-reliant world, such knowledge is unnecessary as the feed can quickly supply the correct word or phrase they look for. Some characters, mainly Violet and her father, recognize this detrimental simplification of language and try to combat the process by using complex words and avoiding too much dependency on their feeds for vocabulary assistance, “He says the language is dying. He thinks words are being debased. So he tries to speak entirely in weird words and irony, so no one can simplify anything he says” (216). Despite their effort to personally fight against the devolution of human communication and intelligence, through the thoughts of Titus it becomes evident how ingrained technology has become. His thoughts are overwhelmed by technological-based phrases and advertisement-esque vocabulary, showcasing how the constant use of the feed and exposure to capitalism has affected even how humans think anymore. An example of this is how Titus thinks in email-format, “I tried to tell myself that being here was not re: sleeping but re: being with your friends and doing great stuff” (19) which reveals how language of technology has become so ingrained people even think in the way they communicate via the feed.
As a result of utter dependency on their feeds to articulate themselves properly and use of the lingo in their thoughts and everyday speech, most people solely communicate via their feeds and the “mental chat” that comes with it. Even when right beside one another, people choose to chat through their feeds, “the girls, they did something else on the feed. They were chatting each other and we couldn’t hear them, but they kept laughing and touching each other’s faces” (9). The girls behavior show how virtual communication has become more used and visibly have resorted to rudimentary forms of communication through touching one-another. This shift from verbal communication exposes the devolution of communication as a whole, where people can mentally talk with one another and use the act of touching one another as an emphasized form of this communication—this is reminiscent of the behavior of people who cannot understand one another whether through lack of language capabilities or a language translation barrier. The feed has ripped all communicative independence from its users and rendered them child-like in their speech and general interactions with other people.
This devolved speech so necessary to Feed thematically offers a critique strongly favoring the viewpoint that the overuse of technology causes reliance and dependency which in turn causes a decrease in human intelligence and knowledge. With the necessity to know and understand even one language removed, all communication becomes rudimentary in nature and extremely simplified. Even with some of the characters in the novel desperately trying to combat the devolution of humanity as a communicative species, their efforts are ultimately futile as the technology-dependent society has effectively taken over as seen by seventy percent of the world having installed feeds and the newest generation thinking in the format that information is presented to them. The loss of traditional communication and simplified speech so intently displayed in Anderson’s novel supports the idea that as technology evolves, the more dependent on it humans become and subsequently become more devolved as a species.
Capitalism and Consumerism Effects on the Division of Social Classes
CaThe illusion that what we see in advertisements and commercials is what our lives can be like if we buy a certain product has been forcefully drilled into our minds by large corporations. In the novel Feed, M.T. Anderson illustrates his opinion on capitalism being beneficial for society because you have the freedom to own your own business and buy enhancements for your life. He also demonstrates that consumerism is deadly towards society because it tricks people into believing that their lives will magically be enhanced by buying an advertised product. He is able to strategically make his point through the character Violet who opens the eyes of Titus and shows him how they are being tricked by the power of consumerism, and highlighting the division among social classes.
Violet and Titus live in an imagined futuristic world, seeming perfect on the outside based on the abundance of material things, but is grim and dark underneath the surface. Everyone in their world has a feed hooked up at birth which gives them access to information, chat, music and TV shows. The feed causes them to constantly be bombarded by advertisements, encouraging them to constantly shop, making the feed the symbol of consumerism. Through the feed, Anderson is able to demonstrate how consumerism is not beneficial toward society, because it is telling the people how they should spend their money and how to spend their time, rather than giving them an opportunity to make something of themselves. The people become “interested only in the consumption of [their] products. [They] have no interest in how they are produced, or what happens to them once we discard them, once [they] throw them away.” To truly be interested in an item is to show interest in the background information, and see what goes into making it into this product you enjoy. But, when you lack interest in the background information, that’s a sign that the only reason why you are buying this product is to keep up with trends that people are feeding you. It leads to an unhealthy society, where people buy products, but don’t know why, and aren’t satisfied with their purchase but rather looking forward to the next purchase they make.
Anderson uses Violet as the symbol of capitalism, who is trying to test the feed’s system and prove to her peers that a life led by consumerism is not healthy or satisfying. Seen as an outsider, Violet seeks her happiness by trying things that aren’t being sent to her by the feed, where everyone else is blindly doing what the feed is telling them to do. Rather than constantly purchasing new items, or changing her look like the other kids, Violet is able to explore her own interests because she doesn’t listen to what the feed is telling her. Capitalism allows us to to make our own decisions and make something of ourselves, to choose what we spend our money on, and how we spend our lives. It’s what our country was founded on, giving people the freedom of choice, but consumerism has the power to change the hard work of those before us, and change our world into something similar to Anderson’s imagined futuristic world. And, though some people may be enticed by the idea of having access to everything at your fingertips, it creates many problems between social classes, by not giving everyone equal opportunities, compared to how our system is set up now. Since Violet’s family wasn’t as rich as others, she did not receive the feed until she was older than the ideal age, and it caused some probably, eventually resulting in it destroying her. Because she received the feed much later than other people, she was looked at as an outsider for having her own interests, and not being able to access all the things that her peers were blindly buying into.
In a society led by consumerism, the division of social classes is inevitable, because not everyone can afford the items being advertised, which highlights the division even more. It prevents people from having equal chances of succeeding in the things that they dream of doing, which gives the poor no hope for becoming successful, and doesn’t allow the rich to make their own choices of live the way they choose. The main point that M. T. Anderson is trying to convey by giving us his opinion of consumerism and capitalism, is that by using the system demonstrated in Feed, is that it creates a divide between the rich and poor societies. The rich are able to afford the feed for their children and hook them up when they are infants, but the poor are not able to do so. Violet showed us that if you do not hook it up as a child, it will not work correctly, causing society to become divided and only giving the rich a chance to be successful.