Friday, April 9, 2010

...and one more thing

Here's a thought that got planted  into a  newspaper column 

I am not ashamed to admit that I play “Farmville” on facebook.

It all started out innocently when I saw a “Farmville” request in the upper right hand corner of my home page to become someone’s farm neighbor, and I was happy that a friend was thinking of me. With a little tap on the computer keyboard, I had been elevated to an agricultural entrepreneur.

The rest is history.

Now I realize that farming takes a lot of time and faithful daily commitment to grow crops and develop land. –and time I do spend on my virtual farm. That’s where I get a lot of chiding from friends.

“Are you addicted, Kay?”.

 -Or “don’t you have anything better to do with your time?”.

I took those remarks seriously at first, but then I started to wonder about what I might learn from this game about the real life habits of people.

First of all, I noticed that of all my neighbors I am the one with the smallest, most modest farmhouse. Everybody else has up graded several times over, and I have a virtual neighbor or two that even live in gigantic mega villas. We all have different values of what is important.  I have lived within my means, and am satisfied with that philosophy. There’s a lot more going on in my life than a showy home.

Then I noticed that I have accumulated a large savings while my neighbors are out daily on shopping sprees to upgrade their farms with lavish trappings. Not to say that I don’t buy things to make my farm look attractive, but I don’t feel the need to constantly buy when Farmville offers a new item. Now virtual shoes might be another hurdle for me to overcome, so please don’t tell me that there is a clothing store on facebook!

However, don’t get me wrong.  I have wonderful virtual neighbors, and some more than others, are ready to give a helping hand when requested. I made a wish for special Easter eggs, and a few people obliged easily, while others were slower to be so generous. When a couple of my neighbors get a prize, and constantly take the option to share an extra one with any other farmers, I say that those are kindly folks who look out for others. I would bet that they would be super neighbors in real life, too.

As I go to fertilize other people’s farms and give them a look over, it tells me a lot about them. Some farms have their animals neatly in pens and keep their crops from wilting, pretty much like they live their own lives. Others let things go until almost disaster hoping that a farm friend will step in to help. Then there is the very creative neighbor who delights in arranging his yard like you would see in a magazine.

When I was gone for over two weeks on a vacation I ran into a moral dilemma with my farm. What to do about my animals? Not wanting them to die of starvation, I sold them all off, only to find out later that they wouldn’t have died, but remained unfed. The fields I left unplowed, though. My virtual neighbors worried about me, and I got nice notes in my mailbox when I returned.

I am competitive by nature, and I find others are the same way on “Farmville”. A little competition never hurt any one, and often raises the bar in life. Just when I get a little lazy there is always someone out there giving me the push and encouragement to stick with it.

Well, it’s time to get back to farming, and checking out the spring planting.

-Oh, and one more thing. Thanks to all my farm friends who let me poke a little fun with their habits. I love you to pieces- every lasting virtual one of you neighbors.