I remember my son, Anton, who is now 21, reading Feed when he was in high school. I asked him this week if he thought our society had moved closer to the possibility of having a continuous corporate brain feed installed in the brains of individuals than he had believed possible a few years ago and he said he did. I almost feel that potential this summer as I keep restocking my reading. It feels seamless to go from my mind to Amazon to my Kindle to me reading in about one minute. One-click-shopping.
This is another book of the dystopian genre. In this society, all of human thinking is enhanced and also customized through a digital mind feed, implanted in the brain. It’s convenient and fun and most people can’t imagine life without it. In many ways, though, this story just develops as a first love between young teenagers. Their innocence begins to plummet, however, when the feeds of a group of them is hacked while on a vacation to the moon. All of the students’ feeds are repaired, but one. Because her parents were more of individualists, they hadn’t had her feed installed until she was older and they also couldn’t afford the top of the line model with an excellent warranty plan. Her feed begins to malfunction and the company that made it removes themselves from responsibility. At first she just notices loss of small functions, but gradually, she begins to lose control of her gross body functioning since the feed is wired into her neurological system. This is a lot of pressure for a tender relationship. Illness and loss of ability is difficult to respond to at any age and in any time. Despite the science fiction setting in which they live, this is actually a sweet story about regular young people trying to make social and personal decisions, given great and constant societal pressures.
The male protagonist writes his own synopsis of the story of himself and his girlfriend, Violet, as it might have been heard through the feed. “It’s about this meg normal guy, who doesn’t think about anything until one wacky day, when he meets a dissident with a heart of gold. Set against the backdrop of America in its final days, it’s the high-spirited story of their love together, it’s laugh-out-loud funny, really heartwarming, and a visual feast. Together, the two crazy kids grow, have madcap escapades, and learn an important lesson about love. They learn to resist the feed. Rated PG-13 for language and mild sexual situations.”
The sexual situations are just sweet, but there is a little too much rough language in this book for me to actually direct a student toward it. If, as is sure to happen, a student finds this on his own, I will dive into a conversation with him about corporate domination of our thinking, incessant connectivity to social media, and whether he could see a life one day that was similar to this one.