Cold Comfort Farmville

25 Jan

Recently, Oprah Winfrey’s personal physician Dr Phillip McGraw doled out some advice to a woman (whom we’ll call Teresa because that was her name) about her addiction to playing games on Facebook. Although I have never watched his television broadcast, I understand he has produced a number of books so I’m sure he is a perfectly competent doctor. However, I feel I must take issue with his advice to Teresa. It represents a fatal misunderstanding of the changing world in which we are all living in.

Apparently, Teresa is addicted to playing a game called “Farmville.” In this game you can do all the things that farmers do (including but not limited to raising crops, breeding livestock, watching your family’s legacy crumble before your very eyes and refusing to let traveling salesmen sleep with your daughter). To play Farmville, you must be signed up to Facebook, a new and exciting way to “network” “socially” on the “Internet.” Teresa has family of her own, and they seem to feel neglected by the amount of time she is online, tending to her virtual responsibilities rather than her real life ones. Dr Phil’s advice was quite simply to “unplug it and walk away,”  (which I believe, in talk show speak, is the opposite of “You go, girl”).

This is very bad advice. Very bad indeed. I appreciate that the good doctor may not be as aware of the importance of technology as I am; however, it simply makes no sense to encourage anyone to stop using Facebook. Social networking sites are as essential to a thriving economy as were sub-prime loans—-we need them to get to where we want to be and damn the consequences. If Teresa’s family feels a little abandoned, well, that’s a small price to pay. Whatever her line of business, be it Avon sales, arts and crafts or head of the PTA, Teresa has acknowledged that she needs to be “connected.” Dr Phil would never have dreamed of asking a 1960s businessman to give up and walk away from his alcoholism for it was an essential part of clinching the deal. Today social networking sites have taken the place of the boardroom. With every poke, Teresa is climbing the ladder of success.

Personally, I admire Teresa’s dedication to her farm. Has not Dr Phil heard that people are starving all over the world? Teresa’s contributions to the food chain might just be enough to kickstart the end to global famine. The fact that her crops don’t really exist is neither here nor there in my book. My guess is that she is geographically limited in terms of raising actual food for actual starving people; so why shouldn’t she raise virtual food for virtually starving people? It’s better than doing nothing, Dr Phil!  Teresa should be seen as a pioneer for her willingness to focus on growing food for the planet, even at the expense of looking after her own children’s nutritional needs. Everyone acknowledges that it is challenging being a parent in today’s day and age. Teresa is setting a good example for her children by showing them that there are other things in the world more important than them, and I see this as an excellent lesson in global responsibility.

A far more sensible suggestion for Teresa would have been to encourage her children to join Farmville and Facebook. I’ve personally found that since I started communicating online, my relationships with my family have improved immensely. They can stay up to date with what’s going on in my life, and I needn’t see or speak with them so really it’s a win-win situation. Having her children as Farmville friends on Facebook will not only intensify their family bond (for what child could feel neglected when his mother is constantly available to fertilize his field), but it should also expand her acreage and, as a result, increase her harvest profit margin.

Keep farming, Teresa, I’m behind you one hundred per cent. I award you a blue ribbon for being both the Farmer and Mother of the Year.

One Response to “Cold Comfort Farmville”

  1. SluttyPoppins Tuesday, 23 February 2010 at 10:24 #

    I am weaning myself off one such Facebook game. I can’t quite bring myself to name it. I have at least deleted all the 300 friends I collected to improve my game status, and I have flirted with the idea of Facebook suicide. As a Doctor myself, I had a rare moment of lucidity,
    http://sluttypoppins.wordpress.com/2010/02/21/social-networking-more-like-ego-validation/
    but I am sliding back to my sluttier self, so I am no further forward.

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