Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rural Route Today February Column


Perfectly timed with the end of the Northern Vermont growing season, has been the advent of Facebook’s addictive game, FarmVille. As of this writing FarmVille had 75,476,475 monthly active users. I admit to some early Facebook recklessness. Initially I spent way too much time looking at pictures of old classmates, their spouses and children, and weighing all of it on some mental spreadsheet to assess how we all turned out. I was amazed at how exceptional everyone was, including myself, until I realized that we only post our best online. Once we had all caught up with everyone we ever knew, dated or were remotely related to presumably the team at Facebook had to find another hook to keep its audience. So began the release of games.

FarmVille came to us in June of 2009. For the few impressive souls who have managed to dodge this craze, FarmVille is a game available to users of the social networking site Facebook that allows participants to plant, grow and harvest vegetables, tend to livestock and build communities. They swap resources, make friends, and -get this- help each other. Users report spending hours a day tending to their gardens. In addition, there are websites to read sharing tips and secrets for excelling at the game. A few weeks ago when my husband had an unfortunate run in with his table saw we made a late night trip to the emergency room where we saw someone in their office playing FarmVille. It was a busy night in the ER and so I will make the assumption here that the individual we saw was either on a break or had a serious virtual drought to remedy.

Have we really let ourselves go so far that we prefer to grow vegetables we can’t use, with people we don’t know, in earth that doesn’t exist over being on our knees in the sunshine and watching the fruits of our labor turn into our evening meal?

I suppose I understand the desire to participate in online games that allow us to exceed our physical limitations via NASCAR 2000, or escape headlong into a mystical world ala Dungeons and Dragons, or to play alongside our idols as in Guitar Hero Aerosmith. I even offer some respect to the Wii Fit generation. But tending to digital eggplant? This is where even I know to draw the line. I suspect this bold opinion may garner its share of “don’t knock it ‘til you try it” letters, but that is just the point. There are things in life I choose not to try for that very reason. I may like them. I may like them alot.


Laura Elizabeth said...

You are so right. I was completely addicted to all of it. Then one day I realized I was missing everythnig going on in my family and friends lives. I spent hours with my farms and other apps. and very little paying attention to real life. My friends and family seem to give the good and the bad on face book and I am thankful to be able to comment on it.

Dina said...

Hi Laura,

I have heard back from many readers of both my column and my blog who share your thoughts and experience. There are lines to be drawn, no doubt. I felt it was important in my commentary to admit my own inclination toward such addicting temptations. Glad you pulled the plug and are reaping the benefits with your family. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.