The Attention Economy: Exposed in Feed

Feed is a thought-provoking, relevant, and timely production thrusting the ‘attention economy’ modern social media facilitates into the spotlight. In this day and age, many of us are plugged into social media networks. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat… the list goes on. For many of us, our lives may feel like an endless scroll - our brains are constantly stimulated. Feed exposes the (sometimes harsh) reality that this is not always a positive thing. After speaking with Ailin Conant (director) and Eve Leigh and Erin Judge (contributing playwrights), I was able to get a better insight into the production and how it evolved into the show that is going up at the Fringe.

Feed aims to expose our relationships with social media and how we are manipulated by it in a funny, nightmarish, uncomfortable way.

For Erin, the concept for the story was born while she was looking at her phone one evening, feeling increasingly low as she continued. She wondered aloud, “why do I feel so bad?” Her husband’s casual response of “that’s by design” sparked the concept for Feed in her mind; the emotional roller coasters we experience while scrolling through our news feeds are no accident. Social media is engineered to captivate our attention, playing on our most primal emotions such as anger, fear, and jealousy. According to Erin, Feed thrusts this reality onto the stage in the hope of forcing the audience to reflect on how vulnerable to emotional manipulation they are by social media.

Of course, putting such an abstract concept into a gripping, evocative production is a challenge – one that Ailin has directly tackled as Feed’s director. According to her, the largest challenge was avoiding overly simplistic emotional arousal since that narrative is exactly what the team aimed to expose. Ailin says the team had to “be on top of both general and specialist knowledge, all while finding a way to apply theatre to bridging the gap between the two in a poetic and engaging way.”

Feed aims to expose our relationships with social media and how we are manipulated by it in a funny, nightmarish, uncomfortable way. If the show in fact achieves what the team behind it set out to do, its audience will leave the venue seriously reflecting on their relationships with social media – and may find themselves in favour of a detox.

Feed runs at Pleasance Dome Venue 23 from August 4th-24th (except 15th) at 14:00.

Articles by Lara Williams