Sunday, December 4, 2011


The Role of Technology in Society

            Feed is a novel by M.T. Anderson that creates a clear image of technology and shows the emphasis we, as a society, place on it. The novel is set in a futuristic time where the world and the thoughts of the individual are controlled by a “feed”.  Each of the characters believes they are in control of their self and have a choice but in reality they are obeying what the Feed Corporation wants. They live in a society that has, for the most part, been brain washed since the day they were born. The writer grabs the reader’s attention by the use of slang and dialogue and is still able to create a strong message. One of the most powerful lines in the novel in support of this topic is “The natural world is so adaptable...So adaptable you wonder what's natural.” (Feed)

            In the beginning the reader’s first impression of the characters is they are your typical young teenager. Their only concern is for their self and having a good time.

            “We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.

We went on a Friday, because there was shit-all to do at home. It was the beginning of spring break. Everything at home was boring. Link Arwaker was like, “I’m so null,” and Marty was all, “I’m null too, unit,” but I mean we were all pretty null, because for the last like hour we’d been playing with three uninsulated wires that were coming out of the wall. We were trying to ride shocks off them.” (Feed)

            The writer does a great job at developing the characters and showing the reader how they think and feel. They do go to school but only to learn how to use their feeds. They seem to be fully consumed by their feed, their technology. It seems to control them in every aspect and yet they do not seem to realize it. Their feed and the role it plays is natural to them, they know nothing more and do not seem to think beyond it.

            When they are on the moon Titus meets a girl, Violet. It is here where we start to see some change. He could not stop his self from watching her. She seems to have his full attention without even having to speak to him. He is drawn to her because she is different and he is a part of a world where everyone is the same. I think here we see the beginning role that technology can have on a society. We all become one, we lose our individuality. The book has a great example of this, “…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 makes everything even simpler. And it goes on and on.” (Feed) This has been the overall theme in some of the readings that we have done this semester. The idea of “mob mentality” being a follower and not having to be an individual, this way we do not have to be our own person, we can just do what everyone else does. As a society do we do this so we have someone to blame?

            The power of the story is in the relationship of Titus and Violet and how it affects his life. We rely so much, as a society, on technology that the thought of not having it is scary. We rely on technology for everything, and in turn we lose individuality. Because of overuse of technology we have become lazy. If we want something done we create a way to accomplish our overall goal without having to leave our house or get dressed. Childhood obesity and obesity in general has become a huge issue with technology. Kids and adults would rather play games or play on phones or watch TV then going out and playing a game or being active. Cespedes says “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately 10 percent of preschool age children and 15 percent of 6- to 19-year olds, can be considered overweight. Twice as many are on the brink of this statistic, making childhood obesity a societal epidemic. In addition to eating more processed, high calorie foods, active play has been supplanted by technology. Parents drive children to school instead of letting them walk. Kids ride motorized cars and scooters rather than pedal bikes. Teens manipulate a joystick instead of a baseball bat. The television has become a constant companion, replacing outside play.” This is something that we need to think about as a society and realize what path we are heading down.
           Verbal communication is almost completely a thing of the past. Things such as email, instant messenger, Facebook and tweeter have taken its place. Computers are used for everything and are everywhere. We can even go to school online and get a degree without ever having to step foot in a college or university. Face to face communication is a completely outdated. If we do not use face to face communication we will lose connections with each other and our world. We will become a part of one big group.

Everything will be put on the internet and we will no longer have need of things like libraries, fast food workers, teachers and many other things. We will be able to have everything computer generated. What happens to things like books? If we stop printing them the copies we have now will not be around in 100 years. Before people had paper they used animal skin and cave walls and things like that to write on. Because those things were able to be preserved we still have some original copies of plays and things that were written many years ago. The pages, paper, that our books are printed on will not hold the ink that long, so what will be left of our century? This can be seen if you keep a receipt long enough the printing will fade and eventually the paper will be blank.  What will the next century find? Will they even use computers or will they then be a thing of the past.

            Technology is not all bad but we must create and maintain other ways of living. Relying only on technology is something that will lead us down a path of destruction in the end. Anderson hints to this idea in the novel.

 It’s the end. It’s the end of the civilization. We’re going down.

No, it’s sure not too attractive. Lenticels.

I just hope my kids don’t live to see the last days. The things burning and people living in cellars.


The only thing worse than the thought it may all come tumbling down is the thought that we may go on like this forever.”

Privacy is a big issue when it comes to technology. If we are putting everything, such as bank information and things such as that online we run a risk of people stealing our information. The same people that can create a website, even if it is a “safe site”, can hack that site for their advantage. There is also the question of who really owns the internet? We have service providers that allow us access to the internet, but who owns the actually space in which our things travel through to reach one site or the other? Does the government have a right to own “space”? Things like this are important to understand and consider when using technology.

There are also a different set of rules and regulations one must follow when using technology. We can give the government more control over us when we place all of our information where it is easily accessed. We become a body and lose every part of the individual we actually are. Even now we are encouraged to think as a group and not the individual. Privacy has become a thing of the past. We seem to be more open to almost anything and everything now because we have had to a just to rules and regulations set up by the government. A great example of this was one I found about surveillance in the workplace.  Surveillance in the workplace opens the door to serious privacy invasion issues that are not only degrading, but unlawful. Surveillance cameras set up in restrooms, employee changing areas and other private areas create a potentially embarrassing situation because employees expect a certain level of privacy in such areas. Having such personal moments documented on film also creates risk that the material will fall into the wrong hands or be otherwise misused in an abusive manner.” (Burbeck, Lynn)

            There is good in everything and with technology there does come some good things. Technology can be used to help education in many ways. Computers can help kids that cannot read or write because of certain disabilities be able to communicate with others. Things like studying can be easier because you “Google” just about anything and get pages and pages of things that pop up on your topic. It also can help with things like the cost of text books, if everything is online there is no longer a need for expensive textbooks. In some ways the use of technology can cut back on our over consumption of resources. Things like paper and pencils will no longer be needed so the overall trash intake should go down.

 Employment can also be effected in a positive way due to technology. People are going to have to operate some of the machines and be able to maintain the machines. People are also going to have to continue to create machines and come up with ideas to make them better. This will allow room for technology to grow but it also opens the door to the destruction of the individual if not done carefully. On a global scale technology can be used to help us as a nation communicate and help other nations around the world.

 Technology can go places that humans may not be able to go. Over time one can save a lot of money with greater technology. The health care industry can benefit a lot from technology. A great example would be “The small, lightweight camera chip, initially developed for recording images in space, incorporates onto one chip all of the electronic controls normally requiring multiple chips. By consolidating the controls onto one chip, the devices are smaller, lighter and use a fraction of the energy of multiple-chip cameras. For patients, this means smaller dosages of radiation-as little as 1 percent the dose of a normal x-ray-and a lower cost.” (NASA)

            The other big problem with a technology based society is we have no use or care for something once a new and better thing is created. We do not care what happens to old product we are only concerned with the new. Feed says is great “We Americans are interested only in the consumption of our products. We have no interest in how they are produced, or what happens to them once we discard them, once we throw them away.” This is a huge problem. What happens to all the stuff we do not want? Where does it go? It is thrown away but some things cannot just be taken care of through the trash system. Some require a lot of attention in disposing of them because they can hurt our environment. Computers and things like that cannot just be thrown in the trash, there is a process in which has to followed to break the machine down so that it will not hurt our environment.

 There is a video on YouTube that shows how big of an effect our technology has on other places. It shows what we do with our trash and old things to make room for the new and better things.  This picture is just a glimpse of what the video shows.

 Scrap computers beinFigure 1Scrap computers being piled up after being unloaded from containers at Ibru warehouse near the port in Lagos. (Image: 4542)© Basel Action Network 2005g

Humans are smart we have not got to where we are today because we are not smart. We want to do well and live a great and easy carefree life and that’s why technology seems so appealing. We start to see a change in the book; he starts to realize that maybe being like everyone else is not what it is all about. Maybe being a thinker and being truly free willed is something that is not dumb but real. “I am messaging you to say that I love you, and that you're completely wrong about me thinking you're stupid. I always thought you could teach me things. I was always waiting. You're not like the others. You say things that no one expects you to. You think you're stupid. You want to be stupid. But you're someone people could learn from.” (Feed) This is a great example of technology and how it clouds our vision sometime but in a society when everything is the same being different means being wrong. There is no wrong or right when it comes to technology and its many advantages and disadvantages. It cannot be one or the other completely. There is the idea that “too much of a good thing is a bad thing” but to say completely one way or the other is not able to be done in this case. It is all about balance, and learning from the mistakes we make.

I like this line from the novel; it does a great job at describing society. “We are the nation of dreams. We are seers. We are wizards. We speak in visions. Our letters are like flocks of doves, released from under our hats. We have only to stretch out our hand and desire, and what we wish for settles like a kerchief in our palm. We are a race of sorcerers, enchanters. We are Atlantis. We are the wizard-isle of Mu.” (Feed) As a society we want what is best and we strive to create a world that is great and error free. Is error free a good thing? Making mistakes often leads to learning if we make something and settle for it being the best, is it truly the best?

 We have become more concerned about fixing certain “problems” that we are missing what is happening right before our eyes. “Problems” for us consists of doing laundry, cleaning the house, doing homework, traveling and much more. These are not the “problems” we should be worried with. We are losing our individuality and becoming this one huge body that can and will be easily controlled if we are not careful. We are all human and while we may mean well the power of being in charge of a huge group, like what we are putting together, can be very dangerous. We can lose rights and freedoms simply because we wanted to make things easier for us.

Just because something is easy does not mean it is good. Technology is a wonderful tool that helps us more and more in our day to day life. It is something that we count on for so much. However technology should not be something that we rely on totally. We still have to live and do things for ourselves; we cannot get caught up in the crazy driven technology world. We must remember the things from this story and learn from them. If all we care about is technology and the next best thing we will lost the freedom of free thought and expression. As we saw from the book having a “feed” can be great in some ways but in others it can be completely controlling.

In conclusion technology is something to think about.  How close are we to this kind of society like from the book? How much more do we need to go in that direction before we become that society? We must wake up and see that while technology is an amazing advancement it can also be the complete downfall of a people. Being able to think and have free will is what makes us the individuals that we are. If we had a chip that did all this for us, we could be controlled completely. The world and everyone in it could be controlled by one person.

 Is it any one person’s right to be able to control that many people? What would happen to the world or even its people if we were all controlled? We would lose all signs of individuality and become one. That is a path that we should not be so willing to go down. We should continue with technology but remember to control it and not let it control the people.

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