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An Essay on 'Feed'

An Analysis

The problem of today is one that can never be solved completely. A man will live and learn from his elders. Grow old teach the young and die. So the problem is not knowledge of the past, because we record that, but insight into patterns that take longer than a generation. A problem that goes beyond the short span of a human consciousness.

Strong men create good times.

Good times create weak men.

Weak men create hard times.

Hard times create Strong men.

When a problem is not known chances are it won’t be solved. So when generations pass and a problem that is larger/longer than a single generation continues its repercussions only grow exponentially.

In Feed by M. T. Anderson, the characters live on earth in the future where companies have complete control of everything (not legally). Everyone is subject to ads and commercials where subliminal messaging is constant through their brain implants (or feed) that are constantly sending them what's cool and what this celeb loves. The main character comes to discover this by meeting a girl that has been raised without a feed. She is like nobody he has ever met. She questions what others take to be their lives and laws. She defies the ever present media stream, which has become so bad that the very clouds have been trademarked.

In M. T. Anderson's commentary of the book he states: "All around us, ads and tv shows and movies are showing us images of the high life. Playing on our desire to belong. There’s always that subliminal message seducing us and bullying us: If you just get this, and buy this, and order that, you’ll be cool, and you’ll be loved. 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.”

Anderson understood that marketing and advertising had gotten way out of hand even back in 2002 when he wrote the book. Large corporations have become masters of skewing the public image. They use advertisements that take advantage of the human instinct to fit in. Commercials that entice to get the newest model of this or that. Exaggerated images that make the product seem better than it is by making it have a better background.

But why is this bad? When you see a commercial that shows a lotion on a partially naked model your mind is subconsciously overrun by subliminal messaging that is simple, but effective. You begin to start associating the name that is being spoken in a soft smooth voice with the logo that is always on screen with the model that is dancing in the shower.

All of that messaging that happens instantaneously makes your brain always connect the feeling from the model with the logo and even spoken name of the product. Now you automatically think better of this product even if it's only subconsciously.

How do we combat this? Well nowadays ad revenue is 90 percent of profit for television shows, magazines, video games, and apps. So going about this through the legal system is nigh impossible, and false advertising laws can be loosely interpreted. The only solution that the general populous can take is to notice the connections that our brain is making and make a real effort to not give into them. You don't have to turn off the TV just to realize when and how the ad is sending you Bradbury’s message, “If you want to be wanted, then you need to want what other people want."

We can’t give into the crowd. We can’t let others decide for us, consciously, and, even harder, unconsciously. There will always be the Natural instinct to fit in. Do not stand out for the purpose of standing out. Become yourself in every way possible. Uninfluenced. Un-corrupted. And if this real you happens do stand out from the drones around you then all the better.

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An Essay on 'Feed'
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