M. T. Anderson’s Feed is the story of a failing futuristic society that is controlled by large corporations. People are taught to value objects, money, and entertainment over everything else. Almost all of the characters have computer-like devices called “feeds” installed in their heads. This allows them to communicate with each other instantly and look up any information they want, but it also sends them a constant stream of advertisements.
As Feed begins, Titus goes to the moon for a spring break trip with his friends. They have dinner and try to get into some college parties, which they usually manage to do because his friend Calista “can do this sorority-girl ice-princess thing” and his friend Link is “that kind of old rich that’s like radiation,” which makes people do what he wants even though he is ugly. However, nobody lets them into the parties today. They look greasy and sleepy from their flights, and they all have the strange lesions that everyone seems to get lately. Titus feels annoyed and decides the moon sucks.
The kids drift to other forms of entertainment. They are playing a ball game in low gravity when Titus notices “the most beautiful girl, like, ever.” Titus watches her, and when his friend Quendy begins complaining about the unsightly lesion on her face, the girl, Violet, joins the conversation. In a confident voice that is free of the filler words and slang that pepper everyone else’s speech, Violet says that Quendy’s lesion frames her face. Violet and the other girls rearrange Quendy’s hair to show off the lesion.
Violet is alone, so she joins Titus and his friends. She hangs back when they try to get drunk and looks uncomfortable when Link suggests trying a drug-like experience called “malfunctioning” through their feeds. However, she accompanies them to a club, where mostly college kids are dancing and having a good time. An old man appears among them, shouting, “We enter a time of calamity!” When he does something to the kids’ feeds that forces them to broadcast this message over and over, Titus realizes the old man is a hacker. The police arrive and beat up the hacker, then they switch the kids off.
Titus awakens in a hospital, where his first thought is that he has no credit for buying anything. Then he realizes that his head is quiet and he is disconnected from feednet. Titus finds life boring without the constant input. He reflects that when feeds were first invented, people were excited at their educational value because they allow people to look up any information instantly. Now everyone who has a feed is “supersmart,” but the educational value is not the feed’s main attraction:
Everything that goes on, goes on on the feed.... But the braggest thing...is that it knows everything you want and hope for, sometimes before you even know what those things are. It can tell you how to get them, and help you make buying decisions that are hard.
Everyone knows the corporations that run the feed do bad things, but there is no way to stop them. They run everything and employ everyone, so as far as Titus is concerned there is no point getting upset about how bad they are. He is far more upset that he is disconnected.
Titus and his friends are stuck in the hospital and annoyed at their predicament. Titus’s dad arrives and says, “Dude, this is some way bad s**t.” The other kids’ parents come too, except for Violet’s. She acts withdrawn, and although she does not complain as much as the others, she seems extremely upset. Still, she joins in when the others go stir-crazy and invent a game of blowing hypodermic needle tips at an anatomy diagram. The doctor gets angry about this, but the kids’ parents defend them, saying they are stressed out and need to unwind.
Violet and Titus bond in the hospital, and she shows him an old, cracked terrarium she finds leaking air. Later, he learns that she knows how to write with a pen. Nobody writes on paper anymore, so he calls her...
(The entire section is 2,284 words.)