Sunday, February 8, 2009

facebook addiction

If I were ready to admit that I had a true addiction to facebook, I would begin the twelve step addiction recovery program with this statement: "We admitted we were powerless over facebook—that our lives had become unmanageable." But so far, I am a functional facebook addict. But signs exist that point to the possibility of an addiction. I'm hoping that a confession on my blog will help me to come to a final conclusion.

Confession Number One: I have 597 facebook friends (as of today). By the end of the day, I will have more because I sent some invites to some players on one of the applications that I added. When I separate my "friends" into categories, this is what I come up with - Twelve "friends" are related to me and can be counted as true friends. Thirty "friends" are either former students of mine or were my co-workers when I was working at the college where I had those students - I certainly count them as true friends! Six "friends" are from my current job. Five are co-workers and one is a recent graduate. Six "friends" are guys I went to high school with. I would say that most of them are true friends. One is merely known to me. Twenty-three "friends" are real friends from college. It has been an absolute blast getting to know these folks again!!! That leaves over 500 "friends" who are really absolute strangers to me!

Confession Number Two: I added these "friends" in order to increase my score or my playing ability on one of the game applications I have added on my facebook page. Here are the stupid games that I play:

1. Scavenger Hunt - This is where my application trouble began. This application hides scavenger items all over facebook, including on the pages of any friends that you have that might also have added the application. It didn't take me long to figure out that I would find scavenger items faster if I had more "friends". But it is considered rude (and annoying) to ask your real friends to add an application. So when I saw the "Scavenger Hunt add-me list", I went for it. I have 246 "friends" playing this game with me. I only know one of them!

2. Mousehunt - This is an application that allows you to hunt for different varieties of mice within the application. In this case, mice are only found within the application, but being part of a "hunting group" allows you to catch mice faster. This time, I went looking for the "add-me" list. I have 213 "friends" playing this game with me. I don't know any of them!!!

3. Parking Wars - This application is based on the A&E program of the same name. In this application, you are assigned a street that has five parking places on it. Some are open spots where any car can be parked. Others have signs behind them that say "No parking" or "Red cars only". Cars are also given to you at the beginning of the game. Then you can earn and purchase additional cars. Each player parks their cars on other people's streets. As the car sits parked, its monetary value increases. If you move the car, you "cash in" at whatever its current value is. But if your blue car (for instance) is parked on a "red cars only" spot, the owner of the street can issue a parking ticket. Whew! Anyway, I have one real friend playing this game and lots of "friends" playing. I did not add any friends for this game. I believe they are all on Scavenger Hunt anyway!

4. Possum Toss'em - This application is also based on an A&E show, The Exterminators. It assigns you a neighborhood of six houses. In front of each house sit four garbage cans. Other players "toss" a possum into one of the four trashcans in front of one of your six houses. You can see which house, but you get two guesses to figure out which can the possum is in. Each possum has a monetary value. If you guess correctly, you keep the other player's possum AND you get the cash value of that possum. I have 60 possums in my "possum posse" and I have no idea how many friends are playing this game because the application doesn't show you that, but since most of them were already playing "Parking Wars", I would guess that it is a lot!!!

5. Sorority Life - Anyone who knows me from college (Pfeiffer University) will remember that I actively campaigned to keep sororities and fraternities off the campus. I felt strongly that the best part of being at Pfeiffer was the way that you could freely interact with people who were very different from yourself. I believed that a Greek system would not only alienate the oddest among us, but would kill what was most special. So, it is hysterically funny that I am playing this application. I won't waste time explaining this fluff of a "game". It is point and click and increase various values. I have twenty-seven "sisters", all complete strangers.

6. Safari Scrap - This ridiculous little game allows the player to pick an animal and "train" them to scrap against the animals who belong to other players. The "scrap" consists of clicking on a button. If your animal's point value is greater than the other player, you win! Winning scraps increases your animal's point value. You can also increase your animal's point value by "training", which takes money. You earn money by having more friends playing the game. I have 130 "friends" playing this game.

7. Animal Kingdom - This game allows you to hide a "trap" on the land of each friend who is also playing the game. Check your traps frequently and find new animals that you have caught. They go in your zoo. I have 94 "friends" playing this game.

8. Hatchlings - This game is similar to Scavenger Hunt in that there are eggs hidden throughout facebook, including on the main pages of any friends who happen to be playing! Each egg that you collect hatches into a pet. New eggs are added regularly. I have 205 "friends" playing this game.

I can't lie. There are others. But I have lost interest in them. Interestingly enough, it only takes me about 30 minutes to check all of the game areas. Scavenger Hunt takes a bit longer. Hatchlings takes FOREVER, so I rarely go egg hunting. I'm really not interested enough to spend a long time on facebook playing the games, which takes me to my next confession.

Confession Number Three: I'm not interested enough to stay on facebook a really long time. But even an hour each day seems like a lot to me. I have noticed that some of my "friends" have amassed such a long list of "friends" that it would take them over an hour to check each friend's page to see if they have an egg that is needed for Hatchlings. They start at the top of the list and go all the way through, then start over. They might do that all day long. I know this because they change their status to "I have been searching for the seahorse egg since 7 a.m. and I still have not found it. Can anyone help?" (Players can gift other players with eggs that they find.) Yikes! Now THAT is an addiction!!! (I am not immune to a total addiction like that because I once spent 12-14 hours per day playing World of Warcraft. Now I am down to playing an hour per week.)

Confession Number Four: If someone gifts you with an item from any of the scavenger type games, it is expected that you will post a thank-you on that person's wall. I was raised right, so I do this, but I find it to be a rather silly custom in this setting. Some players are so tied to this notion that they have responded to my "thank you" with a message that informs me that since I thanked them, they will keep me on their list of people to send such gifts to, which tells me that they remove people from the list if a thank you is not received. That'll teach 'em!!!

Confession Number Five: I have spent some time contemplating whether to invite an old college aquaintance to be a "friend" just so I could add her to some of these applications. That would be the only reason I would do it because we had a falling out in college after I outed her as being the lesbian lover of a dear friend of mine who was anguished over this person openly dating a male friend of ours in a "chaste" relationship, but secretly sleeping with this lesbian friend, who was NOT closeted. She eventually married the male friend.No big surprise that I was not invited, even though I had been friends with the fella much longer than she had! It was really none of my business and I should have kept my mouth shut, but at the time it felt like I was supporting my unhappy friend. I have no idea whether the other gal ever came to terms with her sexual orientation, but I suspect that she will not be interested in being my facebook friend or even my facebook "friend". So as each of my other friends (who have either forgotten the incident or thought it wasn't a big deal) send her name to me as a friend suggestion, I ignore the suggestions. I suspect she is doing the same.

Confession Number Six: Each day when I first log in to facebook, I am excited about the possibility that I might have a new friend request from an old friend or a former student. Locating and interacting with some of these old friends and students has really lifted my spirits during a very stressful time in my life!

(Before anyone gets worried, I have created special security groups for my "friends". They don't have access to anything. They can't even post on my wall.)

So, I suppose the jury is still out. Though I am absolutely powerless to stop myself from checking my facebook every day, I also get the most thrill out of the discovery of an old friend and I bore quickly with the applications I have added. So maybe I am still safe. What do you think?