Even with the quick information access provided by the feed, the vocabularies of characters present in the novel are minimal, though full of futuristic slang. Anderson's use of language mirrors the slang of today's "youth culture," and familiarizes the reader with the likeness between the characters' mode of communicating and present state of communication of the reader. The degradation of language and heavy use of slang is not only a matter of youth, but also present in the speech of Titus's parents. The novel offers comment on the language use of adults and proves, through examination of Titus's parents, that the adults possess an immature world view.
Throughout the novel, Anderson emphasizes his created slang and adolescent vocabulary specific to the society in Feed. This extreme emphasis on the nature of the teens' language use corresponds with the theme of the dangers of overpowering consumerism. Even the word choice that characterizes the slang used in the novel carries undertones of advertisements, purchases, and corporation power.Glossary of terminology from Feed
- banquet: when preceded by a noun referring to an idea or feeling, used particularly to express an abundance of that idea or feeling. For example: a shame banquet, dump banquet, or guilt banquet.
- big: (as an adverb) "very" or "very much"; (as an adjective) "fun."
- bonesprocket: a killjoy.
- boyf and girlf: literally, "boyfriend" and "girlfriend."
- brag: awesome, amazing, or "cool."
- chat: see m-chatting (a sub-bullet under feed).
- Clouds™: clouds (apparently now owned or produced entirely by corporations).
- conceptionarium: a place where children are designed and developed (outside of women's bodies) from embryos into babies.
- da da da: analogous to "blah blah blah."
feed: a device implanted in the brains of most individuals (at least in the United States)—which is fused with their biological functions—instantly giving them the ability to mentally access and share vast knowledge bases and personal psychological experiences with others who also have feeds
- banner: any audio-visual advertisement experienced in the mind of a person with a feed. They may even appear during sleep while the individual is dreaming.
- feednet: the system of interconnected networks accessed by a person's feed.
- m-chatting or, simply, chatting: a feature of the feed that allows users to send other users complex linguistic thoughts and feelings in one's mind alone; thus, a form of completely non-behavioral and nonverbal communication. (Throughout the book, m-chatting is represented using italics, as opposed to verbal dialogue which uses quotation marks.)
- malfunction: a state in which one's feed is temporarily destabilized, causing disorienting feelings and a euphoric high (similar to being intoxicated). For a psychological thrill or recreational reasons, many people with a feed voluntarily go to sites that induce malfunction. To malfunction is also known throughout the novel by many other slang terms, usually to be/go in mal, but also the following: to be raked, to be jazzed, to fugue, going fugue, getting scrambled, and doing the quivers
- freestyle: used as a noun or adverb to refer to "natural childbirth," or childbirth that does not involve the use of assisted reproductive technology. This type of childbirth is nearly non-existent in the novel's setting.
- junktube: a household tube that transports waste to an incinerator; an invention that has apparently succeeded the waste container.
- limp: "uncool" or unexciting.
- meg: an all-purpose intensifier meaning (as an adverb) "very" and (as an adjective) "awesome/amazing" or "huge/substantial." Presumably an adaptation of the real-world English slang term mega.
- "No wrong": a figure of speech meaning "Don't worry" or "No worries."
- null: boring, bored, or uninterested.
- prong: erection.
- "re: (someone or something)": literally, "about (someone or something)." For example, "Is this re: Violet?" means "Is this about Violet?"
- School™: the educational institution that has replaced state schooling; now privatized by corporations that teach students how to be better consumers using mostly holographic teachers.
- skeeze: used as a noun or verb to mean "flirt."
- skip: (adjective) happy, pleased, or satisfied.
- the spit: (often, the big spit): a popular fashion or trend.
- squeam: squeamish.
- squelch: (adjective) sullied, messy or dirty; (verb) to sully something or to get something dirty.
- to be with: (intransitive verb) to be ready and willing to participate.
- to do (something) slalom: to weave between obstacles in a zigzag pattern.
- unit: a word used as a friendly, slang title to address individual persons, the way teens in real life might address their friends as "[dude]]," "man," "guy," or "girl," or as an interjection also the way real-life teens use the word "dude." An occasional female variation is unette. (Refers to the corporation perspective of the population as mere pawns in their capitalist agenda.)
- upcar: a car that flies, especially using tubes (rather than roads) and having an autopilot feature. The original vehicle known as the car is referred to in the novel by the retronym downcar.
- "What's doing?": a phrase meaning "What's happening?" both literally and as an idiomatic colloquialism or greeting.
- youch: physically attractive: i.e. "hot" or "sexy."
- ?: the question mark has much broader usage as a punctuation mark in the writing of the novel's fictional universe than in ours. In addition to a question, the symbol "?" represents a speaker's tone when the speaker is wondering whether the listener is comprehending, or when the speaker is expressing rhetorical disbelief, a doubt, or a guess.
Anderson depicts the failing futuristic society as an outcome of constant consumerist influence through his character dialogue, thought, and description of their surrounding environment. His comment on the disintegration of the natural environment aligns with the disposable representation of consumerist desire. The environmental state is presented as the fault of consumerism, as it leads to the character's lack of political awareness. Anderson shows the characters' complete obliviousness to the dangers of trademarked clouds, meat walls, and toxic oceans, as a result of their feed. The deteriorating environment exemplifies the characters dependence on consumerism for their sense of identity.
As the novel progresses, the illusion of consumer gratification is represented directly through the girls' near hourly trips to the bathroom to keep with the hair style and fashion trends. The girls' identity is absent without their ability to adhere to trends and current styles, furthering Anderson's point of dehumanization through a consumerist society. Also highlighted is Anderson's display of a nagging presence of advertisements and propaganda, endlessly directing the characters towards their next purchase.
Titus and his friends receive consumerist influence from constant ad flows through their feeds as well as their buyer's education from School™. The feed itself is considered a tool for education, but it is controlled by major corporations with the intent of creating consumer profiles. In this sense, it is simply another outlet for the consumerist narrative of the novel. Most evident of the feed's anti-education objective is Titus's apparent lack of skills in reading and writing, and his sparse vocabulary. This reinforces the idea that critical thinking is not a necessity in the interest of the corporations.
Author represents the concept of authority through the feed's ads and through influence of Titus's friends. Where Violet combats the pressures from friends, Titus's character is presented as unwilling to veer from the decided "norm." Anderson describes Titus as apathetic in regards to the feed's commands because he sees no point in fighting the feed's powerful force. The feed knows and decides everything for Titus, so his rebellion is minimal. In conjunction with abiding by the feed, Titus also gives into the demands of his friends. More than he is concerned with independent thought, Titus wants to be "cool" and live within the norms his friends and society have formed.