In spite of my October post where I swore off FarmVille – that addictive game on Facebook – I’m back. Cold turkey didn’t work, the addiction stays. But I have a new take on the situation.

I figured out that FarvmVille is a good thing. I’ve learned from it, and believe it or not, I’ve gained something  – insight into myself!

Now before you go all wacky on me and think I’ve totally lost my mind (because after all, it’s only a computer game and it does rather take up some time), hear me out. Consider my key points and then decide whether to remain a FarmVille fan or foe. Agreed?

Brain Fodder – we all know that doing something that keeps your brain occupied is a good thing. Not obsessing about our looks, our value in the market, our kids, parents, etc. Something unrelated to our real life, something that teases and taxes and brings us to a place away from our daily worries. FarmVille does that – for the amount of time I’m playing – I’m just concerned with expansion, harvesting, plowing and seeding. That’s a good thing!

Greed – Greed is bad. And I learned that recently when I was so anxious to expand my farm that I did so without considering the amount of money I would be spending. I did manage to go to the next level (yes!) but I was left without the proverbial pot to piss in. No money to add crops to my newly expanded farm. Dumb.

Patience – Its a good thing. I didn’t have any. So that’s when I expanded and …. (see above). Next time – a little patience, wait for a few more harvests and Viola! – I would have had enough to expand and plant.

Friendship – The only way to expand your farm is through money and neighbors. I had amassed enough money but not enough neighbors.  Most of my friends were not playing and I was not about to beg them to participate just because I wanted a bigger farm. So I reached out to a new friend and explained my dilemma. I asked her what to do – how do you get more people to be your neighbors and thereby expand to your heart’s content. Within an hour she sent me a friend, and that friend sent me the names of 20 odd people who were probably willing to be my neighbors. I reached out to all of them in one swoop – and they all responded – YES! I immediately had twenty new neighbors. I expanded! Once again I wanted to expand (after some weeks) and once again – the lack of neighbors problem. I reached out to some fan groups – just to see what they were all about and within minutes – more people were asking to be my neighbor!

You might say that this is all self-serving – they’re not friends, they’re neighbors with something to gain. So? I now have contact with people in several countries (US, England, Italy, Lebanon, Germany, Israel). We all have a common goal and politics doesn’t enter the arena. Someone needs a brick to build their barn, someone else helps out and sends one. Watering cans needed to water a seedling and make it grow into a tree? No problem, watering can on its way. If you ask, they will send.

That’s a good thing!

Corrective Experiences – this has some psychological meat attached to it. I had the opportunity (meaning enough money) to purchase a puppy – a really cute brown and white terrier. I sort of ignored the part about how much Kibble I would have to buy to feed him and whether it was FarmVille coins (I had plenty) or FarmVille cash (I had little) that was needed. I really wanted that doggie.

Well, I got him. I named him Butch. He followed me around my farm, wagged his tail, let me tickle him and seemed like a very happy fellow. Then tragedy almost struck. I was running out of Kibble and I didn’t have enough cash to buy him more. If you don’t feed the puppy every day for two weeks, he will run away. Suddenly I was having bad memories.

When I was a young teen I ended up shlepping a puppy home from summer camp. No one would take him so I volunteered. My friend said she would come for him in a matter of weeks. My father agreed and off we went – driving home with the little guy. My mother was not happy! As a matter of fact, she was furious and remained so. My friend never showed up and in spite of my brother and I begging, my mother was insistent that we get rid of the dog. I didn’t have the heart, and totally fell in love with the little guy. I tried to find him a home – unsuccessfully. One day I came home and got a very bad surprise – my mother had seen to it that the dog went away – permanently. She had sent my father off to give him away – and he found a person willing to take him.

Needless to say, that led to some pretty tearful episodes and months (years?) of guilt and sadness. And now, several decades later, I was beginning to experience a related sadness. Yes, I took the real dog under less than honest circumstances (did I really think my friend would come and get him?) and yes I bought the virtual dog without really knowing how I would feed him. But the trauma of the real experience was beginning to create trauma in the non-real world. Once again I reached out to my new friends, with a lot of hope.

Within a day or two, many packages of Kibble arrived – from all over the world. All I did was send out the word – and it was heard. I had enough to feed Butch until he grew up and no longer needed his Kibble and I even have some left over now – in case someone else needs some or should I decide to buy another little pup.

It may sound silly, but I can’t express in words how grateful I felt. I wouldn’t lose my dog a second time. This one would be kept, and loved. Every time he follows me on the farm, wags his tails, plays dead or shakes his paw – I have a smile on my face. All because of a “silly computer game”.

Letting out the Inner Child – Did you like drawing when you were a kid? Playing with paints or crayons? Were you fascinated by all the colors? (Did you have the jumbo box of Crayola crayons???). I was a lousy painter, I was better with paint by number. But I was really taken in by all the happy colors. That’s what you get in FarmVille. Happy colors, cute animals, beautiful trees and plants (not to mention learning their names). I love the mole that pops out of the hole, scratches his head and looks around. I love the reindeer with Christmas lights on their antlers. The sheep with the scarves, the cute pigs, the beautiful horses – it’s all there in FarmVille. Anything wrong with that?

Design – I’m a trained designer and making the world a pretty place speaks to me. I’m fascinated by the designs people have created out of their farms. They’re gorgeous! I’m nowhere near that league – I’m still futzing around with what crops to grow and when to harvest them – can’t really think of geometric planting. But others are doing it and its major impressive! I did give it a try and was able to carve out 2011 in red poinsettias while surrounding them with a field of purple morning glories! (or was it cranberries in a field of peppermint?).

Accounting – Since there’s planning involved and calculations to make – it’s like taking a mini-course in mathematics. Cranberries may give you less money per crop than wheat but they take much less time to harvest – so you can clear a whole field full of cranberries, earn some significant bucks and then plant and harvest another field full while the wheat would still be growing. Some crops earn larger amounts, but they take much longer to grow – causing you to make some pretty important statistical analysis before you crop commit. Know what I mean?

I’ll probably think of more reasons that I enjoy FarmVille but my sheep are baa-ing and the cows are moo-ing and the horses are neighing, so I understand it’s time to get back to my farm.

And what will you be doing to sharpen your mind?

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