Facebook – Do you want to play a game or become it?

Posted on October 18, 2010

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When I first signed in to Facebook it was because of an email I had from a friend inviting me to join.   I had heard about it and I had an idea of what it was all about but I didn’t really understand the potential it had to offer.   I took a look around, followed the tutorial (yes I am one of those people) and started to discover the wonders of what it could hold.

 It has been a marvellous source of information for me as well as entertainment.  I love that I have been able to catch up with people who I had lost contact with over the years.  I hear all the time “If I didn’t stay in contact with you after school/work, why would I want to be in contact with you now?” But for me it’s more than that, I moved from one county to another as a child because of my family, I had to change schools and I didn’t have the option of an email address, mobile phone, etc and to get back in touch with some childhood friends is fantastic to me.  I have discovered and been discovered by people who have moved around the world and I love that aspect of it. I also love that I can keep up with people who I’ve met whilst I’ve worked abroad and share photos with family that live long distance. 

I live in a world where we have all become so preoccupied with our own lives where we don’t have time to pick up the phone any more but we can send a text, we don’t write but we can send an email, and 8 times out of ten we don’t even do that.  It’s not that we don’t care we just don’t think about it.  Facebook gave me back an element of my life that I wouldn’t of had.  As a single parent, I didn’t have the option to be going out every night or even once a month, I didn’t have a mobile phone until later than most because I couldn’t afford it and even though I wasn’t able to constantly be in contact with the outside world outside of work,  it gave me the freedom to stay in touch. I have to admit there was a time when Facebook filled my void to such an extent it was my addiction.  I started getting involved with the games that you can play such as Farmville, Yoville, Mobwars and Vampire Wars but I found myself spending more time virtually watering my plants than attending to the ones in my garden, I found myself decorating my virtual homes instead of tidying up the one that I have.  It became an obsession that I found I just didn’t want to be without. 

How did I break this cycle?  I had a nasty experience through one of the game applications, well it wasn’t nasty to be exact but it wasn’t very nice either.  I find myself sounding like the 4 year old “No Fair” but because of what was happening it made me take a good look at the type of people out there playing these games alongside me and how they have created a whole new way of ‘playing’.   I found myself not being able to take part because someone had decided that they were going to continually put me on the hit list.  They were over 2000 levels above me and I could not even partake in the game because I was always virtually dead.  I started to get invites to join ‘groups’ and I started to see the dangers that took my bit of fun and turned it into something far more sinister.  People joining forces on Facebook to beat the bullies were in fact the ones who were being the bullies; if you don’t join they aren’t going to let you play until you do!  If someone could have this much control over what I do, it no longer becomes a game it becomes real! It was at this point I cut myself off completely from it; I put my status out there to say that I didn’t have time for it anymore and I blocked the applications. 

Now I use Facebook for what I had intended it to be, a way of keeping in touch with the people I want in my life not for it to become my way of life.  A way of sharing our lives in a way that is safe for me to do without infringing on my personal life and without having any detriment to how I feel about it.  I for one want to be able to enjoy what I get out of these social networking sites, I don’t want to be ‘persuaded’ or ‘forced’ into doing things I don’t want.   I don’t want to not do things in real life because I’m scared of the consequences if I don’t play today. 

My choice was to remove that element from my life without removing the substance of what I can really get out of it.  That is one of the good things that came from it – at the end of the day you do have the choice to decide how far you take it, whether you let it take over or use it for what it really is.  So tell me what do you think about Facebook?   Do you think people take the applications for fun too far? Have you had a good or bad experience you want to share? If so I would like to hear it.

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