“Today’s teens spend more than 7.5 hours a day consuming media — watching TV, listening to music, surfing the Web, social networking, and playing video games, according to a 2010 study of 8- to 18-year-olds conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.” (Dailymail) Today we are a technology centered society. The average smart phone owner checks their phone 150 times a day. We cannot live without these innovations. It is taking over our lives and changing the way we act and think. We don’t need to do as many calculations anymore- we have calculators. We don’t need to talk as much anymore- we have texting and social media websites. We don’t need to go out and learn information as much anymore- we have google. In the year 2012 Google was searched a total of 1,873,910,000,000 times. That was an average of 5,134,000,000 searches a day. Feed by M.T. Anderson and “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury are set years into the future, where the technology we have today is nothing compared to the new innovations. In “The Veldt”, technology replaces daily life and relationships. This causes many issues with family life. In Feed almost every person has a radio chip inserted into their brain, constantly streaming all media into their thoughts. It is used for everything- watching TV, listening to music, shopping, searching for random information, and communicating with others. All the while transmitting advertisement after advertisement. Many believe this to be harmful to humans both physically and mentally. If the feed malfunctions, it can damage the host body. Human thinking has been changed with the feed constantly streaming- people don’t need to think critically anymore. The theme of both these fictional stories is the negative effect new technology will have on our society.
The protagonist in Feed, Titus, is just a regular teenager in his world. He has the feed and is dependent on it. He hangs out with his friend and parties like everyone else. Titus meets a girl named Violet. She is completely different from the kids her age. She gets the feed installed later in her life and lives with a conservative father who is trying to preserve the old languages and cultures. Violet is one of the people who believe that more technology is bad for society. One of the feed’s major goals is to create a consumer profile for everyone based on their interests and past purchases. Violet doesn’t want to be another file in the feed and so she goes out of her way to confuse it. Violet tells Titus, “What I’m doing, what I’ve been doing over the feed for the last two days, is trying to create a costumer profile that’s so screwed, no one can market to it. I’m not gong to let them catalog me. I’m going to become invisible.” (Feed 98) Violet is tring to beat the feed. This brings up a major conflict when her’s malfunctions. At the beginning of this novel, Titus and his friends meet Violet on the moon during Spring Break. They all go to hang out at a zero gravity place. They are hanging out afterwards when an old man comes running into the building screaming, “We enter a time of calamity!” (Feed 38) He touches Titus and his friends and Violet and hacks all their feeds. They all go to a hospital where Titus and his friends’ feeds are fully repaired and functional. Violet’s however, since she gets it later in her life, is permanently damaged. It is just a matter of time until she is permanently shut down. Violet is walking down the stairs months later when her body just stops working. She falls down the stairs and can’t get up. Violet tries to ask the feed for help, and the feed tells her, “We’re sorry, Violet Durn. Unfortunately, FeedTech and other investors reviewed your purchasing history, and we don’t feel that you would be a reliable investment at this time. No one could get a “handle” on your shopping habits, like for example you asking information about all those wow and brag products and then never buying anything. We have to inform you that our corporate investors were like, “What’s doing with this?” Sorry- I’m afraid you’ll just have to work with your feed the way it is.” (Feed 246) Violet’s plan to confuse the feed backfires because now when she needs help, the companies don’t listen. They don’t care about Violet because they aren’t getting money from her. This eventually leads to her demise.
“The Veldt” takes place in a futuristic society where technology is replacing many aspects of every day life. There is technology to bath people, cook dinner for them, clothe them, and even tuck them into bed and rock them to sleep. A new room is invented that you can have installed in your home called a ‘Nursery’. This room will automatically morph into whatever the residents want it to be using their imagination. George Hadley and his wife have one installed for their children Wendy and Peter. In this society, the relationship between parent and child is merely aquaintanceship. The technology has replaced parents as caregivers. The machines do everything a parent would in our society- bathing, cooking, etc.- besides disciplining them. The children grow up in an enviornment where they recieve all of their hearts desires. When somebody comes along and takes that away, there will be anger. George starts to realize that his children are getting unhealthily attatched to the nursery and decides that they need a break from all the technology and need to go on a vacation away from it all. When the children hear of this plan, they are mortified. They don’t want to leave their precious nursery behind and in fact have hatred towards their father for trying to take it away. George brings in a professional psychologist to examine the nursery. The psychologist tells George, “You’ve let this room and this house replace you an your wife in your children’s affections. This room is their mother and father, far more important in their lives than their real parents. And then you come along and want to shut it off. No wonder there’s hatred there.” (Veldt, 247) Wendy and Peter don’t care about their parents and quite frankly want to harm them for taking away the nursery. To no one’s surprise, the children use the nursery against their parents and George and his wife are taken out of the picture.
Feed is a satire on our society today and how we are letting technology control our lives. The radio feed is installed in peoples brains and they don’t need to do as much anymore. The main theme of this book is how new technology is bad for humans socially, physically, mentally, and even economically. In Titus’s society, people who don’t have the feed are looked down upon and people who got it later in life are considered different. Having the feed is like having the new Iphone in our culture- it’s a status symbol. People who don’t have it either are not very well off economically or they are against it for other reasons. There are some people who look at the feed as a factor in the “decline of civilization” as Violet puts it. These people are similar to our society’s “tree-huggers” or “hippies”. They believe in preserving and reviving “old” human behavior such as reading, writing, and actually communicating sophisticatedly with other humans out loud. They believe that the feed is destroying culture and causing people to be less intelligent. To a great extent, these people are right. With the feed it is no longer necessary to read or write or even talk out loud. The feed does all the thinking for you. This causes people to become more lazy, and when faced with something the feed cannot help with, they are helpless. This comes up when Titus starts to realize that Violet actually wants him to commit to her. Titus doesn’t really understand commitment becuase commitment means trying and putting in effort- something he does not know how to do. The feed has been there to do everything for him. The feed can’t help him have a relationship with Violet. Titus is lazy and doesn’t want to try. He tells Violet after rejecting her advances, “I was just thinking about going out with you, and we would have some fun for a few months… We’ve only been going out for a couple of months. And I’m supposed to act like we’re married. A couple of months. It’s not some big eternal thing. We should’ve broken up weeks ago, I would’ve, if you hadn’t been… I didn’t sign up to go out with you forever when your dead. It’s been a couple of months. Okay? A couple of months.” (Feed 271-272) Violet takes Titus to a hotel and wants to have sex with him. Titus is a lazy teenager and doesn’t want that kind of commitment, so he rejects her and then breaks up with her because she’s dying. Titus doesn’t want to have to be there for a dying girl and he doesn’t want to have to help her. He is going to let her die alone. He has been leading her on. Titus’s behavior however is influenced greatly by his society. He has never had to do anything hard before thanks to the feed and doesn’t want to have to do it now. This shows how the feed is changing civilization for the worse.
The major theme in “The Veldt” is how the technology is taking over people’s lives and relationships. People use technology for everything and don’t need to bond with other humans. Children are being brought up in an enviornment where they have technology to basically be their parents. This causes the parents and children to be merely related; they don’t feel the special attatchment most people in our world have. Everybody only cares about technology. The children in “The Veldt”, Wendy and Peter, cannot live without their machines. When their father tries to take them away, the children use the technology to kill their parents. They have no remorse. This incident only proves the theme. The kids don’t love their parents- they love technology. They have no relationship with their parents making it easy to off them with no emotion. The technology their PARENTS bought is used against them. This shows how technology is bringing society down so low that people kill when they don’t get what they want.
Both the stories themes are very similar and warn us about our own future. We have many new technologies being invented and stories like these are showing us what could happen if we get carried away. Technology could take over our lives so much that we stop caring about other human beings. This could lead to the end of relationships with others completely. This could lead to complete chaos; there would be no remorse or regret when killing others or doing anything bad because nobody cares. So much new technology could be invented that eventually we won’t need to do anything anymore. We would all become lazy and unintelligent. We wouldn’t be able to do anything without technology. This is a very scary future to think about us going through, and these stories can help us realize that we need to slow down.
Technology can be a good thing, but like everything else, moderation is key. We cannot afford to let these innovations get out of hand. We need to preserve our relationships and human communication. We need to keep learning with our own mind and not technology. We need to be careful that neither Feed nor “The Veldt” become our destiny. We need to take action and reverse instead of going forward. We cannot let technology destroy us. We can still use it to help us with certain things, but again, we need moderation. Technlogy is the key to society’s demise.