Perspective
Virtual Reality vs. REALITY

 

by Angela Blue, Contributing Writer


Angela Blue

My aunt Joyce has just built her very own chicken coop. My best friend Laura needs help fertilizing her crops. My brother Jake has found some uncommon brown mystery eggs on his farm, and my cousin Richard has just won a ribbon for being such a fantastic farmer.

Sadly, none of this is reality.

These are all familiar updates Iíve seen sneaking into my Facebook newsfeed from my friendsí public addictions to Farmville. In case you arenít on Facebook or are lucky enough to have friends who donít grow cartoon crops, Farmville is a simulated agriculture game that can be accessed from a Facebook application. In the make-believe world of Farmville, you can plant, grow and harvest your own crops, raise livestock and help friends on their farms. Farmville farmers get to reap the virtual benefits and rewards of farming without any of the labor. However, they certainly put in the time.

One of the complaints about Farmville is that it clutters up the Facebook newsfeed with updates that nobody really cares about unless they play the game. People on Facebook have formed groups against the game such as, ďFarmville sucks,Ē and ďOh, youíre a fan of Farmville? Iím a fan of having a life.Ē Iíll admit that Iíve deleted a few friends because it seemed pitiful that they were wasting so much time on a pretend lifestyle. Plus, I was tired of seeing those little animated chickens on my newsfeed.

Then I realized that my frequent browsing of the Facebook newsfeed is also an incredible waste of time. True, itís a great way to keep in touch with friends and family who live far away, but it has become my main form of communication with all my friends, even the ones who live just down the street. What happened to sending someone a birthday card in the mail? I donít need to because I can leave them a ďHappy Birthday!Ē comment along with the 45 others on their Facebook wall. Who needs to have a one-on-one conversation anymore when you can rapidly let out all your feelings or frustration in a quick e-mail to a pal?

Just as the virtual farmers have replaced real farming with a simulated game, Iíve replaced my friendships with virtual relationships. The difference is that unlike Farmville, my goofing off is called social networking, and it has become totally acceptable in our society.

With Facebook, I get the attention and communication that I crave and need. Someone left me a photo comment; I feel pretty. Someone commented on my status; they think Iím funny. Nobody left me any comments or messages; Iíd better post some new pictures. My problem is that even if Iím not communicating with anyone on Facebook, Iíll still spend an unfortunate amount of time browsing my friendsí profiles and seeing whatís recent on the newsfeed. Itís become my mini addiction.

Facebook isnít the only culprit. There are other time-killing rituals that I perform daily without a second thought ó zoning out in front of the T.V. for a while, playing video games or even indulging in celebrity gossip magazines. Sure, Iím entitled to my guilty pleasures, but when I begin to spend precious hours on them every day, it becomes a problem.

Iím constantly saying to others, ďI would, but I just donít have the time.Ē The fact is that sometimes I do have the time, but I waste it on mindless activities that make me feel accomplished for a short while. That hour I spent flipping through channels could have been spent flipping through pages of that book Iíve been meaning to read. That lunch break when I scanned Us Weekly for celebsí hot body secrets, I should have been taking a brisk walk or hitting a nearby gym to sculpt my own body. Instead of drooling over Rachel Rayís roasted tomato bruschetta, I should get in the kitchen and become my own idol chef.

Finally, Iím going to make a real effort with friendships instead of relying on the Facebook newsfeed to keep up with my friendsí lives. Instead of leaving someone a quick photo comment or just hitting the ďLikeĒ button, Iím going to write more letters, make more phone calls (not just texts) and plan more days to hang out with my friends face to face. Technology can be a great thing, but it shouldnít be relied on as the only thing.

On that note, Iím off to buy my friend some tomato seeds. Since sheís a prize-winning farmer online, maybe sheíll enjoy digging in some real dirt for a change. These tomatoes might not win her a ribbon, but seeing those little green sprouts peek through the dirt will give her a feeling unlike any other; a sense of pride and accomplishment that can only come from nature.  

Angela Blue is a native of Chase City and graduated from Old Dominion University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. She is living in Norfolk where she does freelance writing for local publications and has two part-time jobs. She enjoys cooking and gardening, and is interested in environmental issues and supporting the local food movement.

What's Your View?

This column is meant to provoke thought, so we welcome reader comments. Send e-mail to: bsherrod@odec.com (please enter Perspective in subject line), or send written responses to Cooperative Living, Perspective, Attn. Bill Sherrod, P.O. Box 2340, Glen Allen, VA 23058-2340. 

 

 

 

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