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.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this article has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now