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Thursday, November 5, 2009

FarmVille and FishLife

About a week ago I connected with the massive website called Facebook. A friend of mine posted a video, but when I clicked the link to see the video I couldn’t access it without first ‘joining’ the site. I did that, but got so involved in the process that I never did get back to the video I came to see in the first place. From day to day since then I’ve become more and more deeply immersed in the activities there.

They have an ongoing ‘chat’ feed where one can post short messages about anything. Generally, they aren’t obscene, but the attitude and energy is often pretty questionable. There are any number of game type activities that involve operating in a virtual reality scenario.

I’ve become fascinated with two aquarium games. ‘Game’ hardly describes them. You must keep a closer eye on the fish and the aquarium health than I ever did my real ones. I have to check back several times a day to clean the tank and feed the fish or, ‘horrors’! I go back and find my fish all gray and belly up. LOL What a shock the first time that happened.

There is a Farm area. I have two farms, one in Farm Ville and the other in Farm town. I plant crops which mature and can be harvested anywhere from 2 hours to 4 days. If I neglect to go back in a timely fashion the harvest shrivels up and dies. I have to pay to have the little plots of land plowed and pay for the seed and then wait until it is grown. Then I ‘harvest ‘ it by pointing a scythe shaped icon at it. Harvesting it piles up ‘coins’ and then those can be used to buy more seed etc, etc. Just like real life.

I have two cute little farms. The first one has three cows and three sheep, two ducks, a pig and a rabbit in a pen. Of those, I only bought one cow. One was a gift and the third was a ‘lost’ cow that I adopted. The white sheep was a gift but the two black ones were “strays” that needed homes and I adopted them. The rabbit, the ducks and the pig were all gifts. Someone gave me a ‘rest tent” with a lawn chair inside. I bought a second one. That’s the only shelter I have, but I have lots of fruit trees and crop lands. .

The other farm has a sheep and a dog and a crazy chicken that wander all over my farm because I haven’t been able to harvest enough crops yet to buy a real fence. I tried making a little enclosure with one section of fence and hay bales but that wasn’t too successful, especially for the insane chicken. All I have there is one or two apple trees for shelter.

I also have a ‘café’ where I have four stoves and four serving counters with two waiters. I am, of course, The Chef. I decorated the café myself as I made money serving people etc etc. This one requires a LOT of attention because just like real food if I go away and forget it I come back to spoiled food –with virtual flies buzzing over it even!

Now here’s what the Lord showed me. I was allowing myself to be WAAAAY to wrapped up in the computer and facebook. The hours I spent in Bible Study were replaced by tending imaginary crops and feeding imaginary fish and imaginary people! The time I spent on line and in emails and discussion groups with real people talking about the Lord and the Church were pushed out of the way by stupid conversations thanking people for giving me a cow! And it wasn’t even a real cow! It was insidious and unrecognized until today when realization dawned.
The solution of course was easy. I simply didn't go. My cheeseburgers spoiled on the grill. My fish didn't die, but the tanks got all green and the neighbors had to take care of my virtual farms for the day.
There is nothing wrong with simple relaxing amusement, but it cannot control our life and our days to the exclusion of more vital things. We inhabit a world though where many live for amusement. Before I retired, I noticed many of those I worked with planned their entire week around their amusements. They neglected their children to pursue their own entertainment. Some bills went unpaid so pleasure trips could be taken. Houses were barren places because the focus of the individual's energy was on activities outside the home. There was no contentment or joy unless the person was occupied in "having a good time. " I hadn't gone to quite that extent, but for about a week, entertainment consumed most of my day.

God smacked me on the back of my head and said. "Shape up. And focus on the important things." I'll still play facebook games, but only when it doesn't interfer with living a real life.

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