Sunday, January 30, 2011

Looking to the future, savoring the present

What a blast it’s been reading Feed by M.T. Anderson this week! Feed is a critically acclaimed Young Adult novel that describes the life of a teen named Titus in a time where almost every aspect of life is controlled by the feed, a transmitter implanted directly into his brain. Had I known the book was Young Adult, I might have thought otherwise about reading it, and I would have really missed out. Instead, I got Anderson’s  take on what the future might look like when we don’t just carry our laptops or smart-phones around with us, but when computers and brains are one in the same. Imagine a world in which what closely resembles Facebook advertising and personality profiling is taken to such extremes that the feed advertises not just to online actions, but to spoken words and emotions. The scary part is, it’s not such a far cry from reality. 
Even though Feed is written for younger readers, the author looks critically at the power that advertising and PR firms, global corporations like Nike, Coca-Cola, and Toyota, and major news conglomerates have in defining our reality. And as a communications nerd, I’m glad the author is encouraging his readers to see the possibly disastrous outcomes of a world in which speaking aloud is a chore, where buying something is as easy as clicking with your mind, and where writing with paper and pen is a lost art. There are certainly positive aspects to the technological revolution of the past 30 years, but this revolution has so entirely changed the landscape of communication and reality that I don’t believe we truly understand its effects yet. 
What I took away from this week was this: savor those aspects of life that may seem timeless. Jot down notes to yourself on a sticky note by your bedside table or on your desk. Write a letter to a friend who lives far away. Take a picture or draw what you see around you. Talk to people older than you and listen to their stories, because those stories will blow your mind. Look, I mean really look, at some artwork. Hold an old book  in your hands and smell the pages. Do whatever it is that keeps you rock-solidly in the present. These things are a beautiful part of life that I’m afraid are slipping away. 
For the month of February, I’ll be reading alongside my best friend in the world, Elizabeth Feenstra. In 2011, Liz is taking on a new challenge each month. Last month, she took a photo a day, and this month she’ll be reading a book a week with me! (What great encouragement!) This week we’ll be reading The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. It’s fiction, so I’m heading a bit off track from the every-other fiction/non-fiction plan, but this books been recommended to me at least four times this week, so what better way to kick off February than with a highly-recommended read!
Thanks to everyone for your encouragement and support! I love hearing your suggestions, keep ‘em coming!

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