Impacts more valuable choice when given the option

Impacts of Consumer Culture in Feed and Our WorldThe novel Feed, written by M.T. Anderson, is a dystopian tale about a group of friends set many years in the future. Titus, a teenager living in this time period, narrates his crushes, his attempts to fit in, and all other aspects of the teenage life he is experiencing. However, there is a common theme that constantly recurs throughout all of his descriptions of his life; whenever he is bored or something goes wrong, Titus can always rely on his Feed, a corporate product that streams information directly to your brain. Through Anderson’s depiction of environmental decay, the belief that corporations are always right, and a loss of individuality, he is able to illustrate how an increase of consumer culture allows companies to gain a dangerous amount of control of people’s lives. The environmental decay created by Anderson in the novel portrays how people are willing to prioritize the corporately beneficial option over what is better for the Earth. Titus’ dad is one of the characters that enforces the idea that corporate plans are superior to environmental plans. When Violet suggests to him and Titus that they could take his new up-car to Jefferson Park, he responds, “Jefferson Park? Yeah. That was knocked down to make an air factory…Do you know how inefficient trees are next to an air factory?” (125). Titus’ dad very clearly states that he believes that an air factory, the corporate option, is the more valuable choice when given the option between the natural and unnatural. Titus’ dad’s choice shows how most people prefer to help the corporations and make a short term choice, rather than pick an environmentally beneficial choice which would be the better decision in the long term. The poem that Titus picks up from the Feed after the party conveys the lack of care and worry that people have about the environment. The poem states, “I remember as the last forest fell…The temperature usually didn’t get over a hundred…I miss that time” (94). This poem reveals that although it was nice having a natural world, the current state of the world is fine too. People reminisce about the previous landscape every once in awhile, but the fact that Titus, nor any other character introduced in the novel, actually takes action against the environmental destruction they are going through further emphasizes the fact that the general population could not care less about the environment: as long as they have their commercial items (i.e. Feed), they are happy. I can connect the message that the satisfaction of the company is often prioritised over what the better option for the world is through a connection to a big part of my life. I live in Midhurst, which is a rural town with a beautiful landscape of forests and fields. However, the government recently introduced The Midhurst Secondary Plan, a developmental plan that includes building two new neighborhoods on top of farmland and forestry, among other industrial ideas. By introducing this plan, the government is sacrificing over half of Midhurst’s open land and placing corporate/residential establishments over it. Despite protests made by Midhurst’s residents, the government valued a profit off of selling the land to companies/citizens over the eco-friendlier option of leaving the land how it is. Through a personal connection and Anderson’s representation of how people are willing to do whatever is needed to make the company satisfied, it is shown that corporations are able to take a large amount of control over citizens lives without any input from them.Anderson also uses his illustration of the belief that the company is always right to show that regardless of the message released by an important company, people will trust it. A character that depicts that the company, Feed in this case, always displays correct information is Titus. When narrating about how wonderful the Feed is, Titus remarks, “Everyone is super smart now. You can look things up automatic …, like which battles of the Civil War George Washington fought in” (47). Titus makes clear that he has a lot of confidence in the Feed, and that he will happily take and believe the information he receives from it. However, this quote is very ironic because whilst Titus praises the Feed for always being correct, the statement that he states is in fact false. George Washington did not fight in the Civil War, but Titus would never know that due to the amount of trust he puts into the Feed. This theme is illustrated again when Violet and Titus are discussing the Feed in current society. During the conversation, Violet states, “When you have the Feed all your life, you’re brought up not to think about things. Like them never telling you that these days … we’re raising a bunch of idiots” (113). Because Violet did not have the Feed for a big part of her life, she begins to realize that when people are born with Feed, they rely on it far too often and believe everything that it says. Her realization was very true, but because Titus was brought up with the Feed and he couldn’t find anything about that realization on it, he just automatically assumes what she is saying is false and doesn’t take any of the information to heart. While Violet drastically decreases her reliance after finding this out, Titus continues to utilize the Feed in the exact same ways as before Violets discovery. The message that people will believe anything can also connect to the recent 2016 US Presidential Election. Throughout the election, one of the biggest topics/headlines was fake news. Many different news stories were being spread around about the candidates that were completely false. This caused a major amount of controversy, and many believe that it impacted the election in a big way. An example of this is a tweet that went viral right before the vote took place, which stated that paid anti-Trump protesters were being bussed to Trump’s demonstrations. That tweet got over 16,000 retweets (the average tweet doesn’t even get one). This story connects to Feed because in both situations there is information being taken in and believed by many people that simply isn’t true. This tweet gave his opponent, Hillary Clinton, a worse image even though she did nothing wrong. Despite the information being completely false, people valued it as true and based their opinions on the candidates around this and other incorrect statements. Through this news story and Anderson’s portrayals of the belief that corporations are always right, it is illustrated that society is willing to believe any information they see or hear, despite where it comes from or whether it is truthful.Finally, the loss of individuality present in the novel emphasizes that when people conform to the general population, they are benefitting corporations at the same time. Violet’s behaviour at the mall is an example of the message being portrayed in the novel. While Violet is at the mall with Titus, it is narrated,”Violet was standing near the fountain and she had a real low shirt on, to show off her lesion, because the stars of Oh? Wow! Thing! had started to get lesions, so now people were thinking better about lesions, and lesions even looked kind of cool” (98).  Despite Violet being one of the few characters to understand the negative aspects of the Feed, she decides to conform to the general population anyways. Violet’s beauty choice is also based off of a character, so she is practically a walking advertisement for that show, which helps gather interest for it. The theme is demonstrated yet again through the decisions made by Quendy and Loga. When the whole friend group is on the Moon, it is narrated that, “Quendy and Loga went off to the bathroom because hairstyles had changed” (20). Even though Quendy and Loga had a hairdo that they both liked, as soon as the corporations decided that another style was superior to theirs, they just followed the trend and immediately chose that style. Also, the trends are controlled by corporations, so the corporations are bringing in a huge amount of profits off of the constant fad changes. Despite my criticism of the characters for mimicking the actions of the general population, I am a victim to this too. Recently, the world was taken over by a little, spinning piece of plastic known as a “fidget spinner”. When I heard that this was the new “thing”, I knew that I needed to get my hands on one. I went out to the local corner store, bought one and began flaunting it about. But after a week, like most trends, it was in my trash can; it turns out that the fascination with spinning a chunk of plastic wears off fairly quickly. Although I had little to no interest in owning a fidget spinner, as soon as society decided that it was the next best invention, I just had to get one. Through my actions, I also gave both the retailer and the manufacturer money, all because of the popularity of that item. Through both my purchase of a fidget spinner and Anderson’s character’s actions, it is shown how there is a major link between the conformity of the population and companies profiting off of trendy products.Through these points, Anderson is able to portray how when people become too engaged in a consumer lifestyle, companies are able to control the decisions and choices they make. The environmental decay described in the novel represents how the corporate decision is often prioritized over the eco-friendlier, long term option. Secondly, Anderson’s depiction of the belief that the company is always right is able to show how society will always accept information provided by a company, no matter what the information actually is. Lastly, the portrayal of a loss of individuality in the novel illustrates how there is a very strong correlation between conforming to the society and benefitting the corporations. This novel implies that consumer culture may not be beneficial for the Earth and society, but rather primarily for the corporations and their bottom lines. As responsible people, we must make decisions in our lives ethically and morally, and not just based on materialistic gain and convenience.Works CitedAnderson, M.T. Feed. Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2002.”Township of Springwater.” Home – Township of Springwater, www.springwater.ca/.”How Fake News Goes Viral: A Case Study.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 22 Nov. 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/business/media/how-fake-news-spreads.html.

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