I signed up for Facebook a few years ago to see what my children were doing at college. Yes, that sounds like spying…. Instant Messenger, MySpace, Facebook. They signed up, I signed up. (They weren’t sneaky enough to keep it a secret.) As soon as they moved on — it took me a while to catch on — I trailed after. (The latest is LinkedIn.) I wanted to reassure myself that my children were still alive, since they weren’t big on calling home or answering their cell phones, which never seemed to be charged — or so they said. When my daughter was very sick with mononucleosis, I saw it first on her status update. She had dragged herself to her computer, typed in that she had never been more sick in her life, and then collapsed.
Both children are graduated now, and although my anxiety is no less, I have found that I’ve been sucked into some of these sites without giving much thought to my children’s online activities. (They seldom post anyway…) A recent Time Magazine article reported that Facebook isn’t even for young people anymore, even though it was started for college students. Too many parents have invaded it. Middle-agers are the ones who seem to use Facebook the most. I’ve re-connected with far-flung relatives and friends.
A friend, also on Facebook, recently urged me to sign up for the Farmville game on Facebook. I’d never seen much from her on Facebook, but she is very active on Farmville. She claimed it was addictive. I signed up as a favor, since you need neighbors on Farmville. But you can’t sign up and forget it. Immediately, my strawberry crop withered because I forgot all about harvesting it. Farmville is a very interactive game, because you help out your neighbors, rescue their crops, give them livestock and other gifts, etc., a very idealized version of the real world. You can’t rise in the Farmville world without helping out your neighbors or getting help from them.
It’s only been a week since I’ve joined, so I don’t know how long I’ll last. I’m not a video or computer game player. I’ve accepted other invitations for other Facebook games and never played them. I waste too much time already in the “real” world. However, I already feel responsible to my neighbors in this virtual world. I was amazed to see how many Facebook friends were playing this game. You can publish your results on Facebook, but most don’t, so it’s not until you join that you see the “closet” players. It’s fun to see what different “neighbors” have chosen to plant or raise. Masses of daffodils, vast herds of cows, avocado trees, acres of corn….An Aussie Facebook friend playing Farmville has a lot of leisure equipment, a pool, many topiaries and a lovely banana grove on her farm, which looks more like a resort. Those Aussies know how to live!
P.S. on Nov. 8, 2009. On Farmville, a popup informed me that I needed to buy more coins. I said ok, but it asked for real money! I could pay with a credit, paypal, whatever. Pay real money, no way! I feel I’ve logged enough hours that I should get paid!
Here’s the Time Magazine article. Oh Crap. My Parents Joined Facebook.