Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Day I Gained My Life Back

No, this is not some inspirational post about some earth shattering experiences that I had recently - I normally keep those to myself. This is about me getting my life back with my wonderful, beautiful wife and my two amazing daughters.
This brief post is about when I woke up on Boxing day which is what the English call the 26th December - not sure why they call it that but it's probably what most English familes do after being given two sets of crappy woolen cardigans with a snowman printed on the back.

Just for fun on Christmas night we had the children sleep over in our bedroom, "camping" on the floor on their mattresses. I woke up early surrounded by my family laying next to my beautiful wife and the very first thought that popped into my head was..."Shit, I haven't harvested my coffee crop!". I quickly got out of bed, creful not to wake anyone, crept over to the computer, switched it on, anxiously navigated to Facebook's Farmville and breathed a sigh of relief to find out that my coffee crops hadn't died after all. After quickly harvesting my coffee crops I started to plan what crops I would plant next so I could get closer to my goal of building my dream farm.

I should have known there was a problem with my real social life as my youngest child's favorite saying to me was "why do you have to spend so much time on the computer" or when I switched it on she would raise her voice saying "No, not again!". My eldest daughter would beg me to let her harvest the crops and occasionally I would grant her this favour, only when I was too busy playing poker and my crops were on the verge of death. My wife would often lay in bed waiting for me to cuddle up next to her, but by the time I had planted my crops and played a poker tournament she had fallen a sleep - and my first thought was always "not again - how lazy!".

Like many addictions, they creep up on you slowly. They are never in your face, obvious or loud. They are never offensive - to you. They make you feel good. They stroke your ego. They say "don't worry I'll be there when you come back" or "you're the man, come back soon, I miss you already". Over the 6 months I now realize that I had slowly become a social networking game addict, I would post silly little sayings to try and get friends to be "my neighbour". I would send cows or cherry trees as gifts to "friends" hoping they would do the same! In the end I looked forward to Christmas because I got to open my presents - the ones under my Farmville christmas tree!! Something was wrong.

After I harvested my coffee crop and planned my next crop planting session I stood up to go to the bathroom and saw my wonderful family all sleeping there and it hit me "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING! YOU'RE WASTING TIME! YOU'RE DAUGHTERS ARE GOING TO GROW UP AND YOU WILL HAVE MISSED IT!" Sounds very dramatic, but it really hit me hard and I realized that I had to do something about it.

Whilst in the bathroom I decided that if I didn't give up this ridiculous false life I may end up losing the real one around me. So I walked back to the computer and deleted all the games that I had subscribed to, Farmville, Cafe World, Power, Fishville, Roller Coaster, etc. I hestitated slightly before saying goodbye to my 30 cows that had faithfully given me milk, my 2 horses, 10 sheeps, 4 pigs, 2 geese, 2 turtles, 3 reindeer, my 65 trees of various kinds, my pond, bird bath, picnic table, my house, my 2 barns, haystacks, my tractor, harvester, sower and my 20 x 20 plot of land that had be so faithful in producing bumper crop after bumper crop. I said farewell to my 15 neighbours that I had cajouled into living next to me, knowing that they would never come over to visit and fertilize my crops again.

After deleting the games and profiles, I felt free, I had more time to spend with my family. My wife and I regularly cuddle in bed now watching a movie or reading a book. I go ice skating with my kids , play games and draw pictures. Life has returned to normal again. I've started taking photographs and reacquainting myself with my hobby I had started to neglect.

I have not given up my face book account yet. I do have a lot of friends that I do care about who I have been able to keep in touch with - but I am in the process of getting their email addresses so I can go back to normal way of communicating - writing, calling or even better going to visit them in person and having a good laugh together.

I am not against these so called social networking sites - but I would recommend a reality check on how much time you spend on them vs. how much time you spend with real people in your spare or free time. If you have a family, take a reality check and ask them if THEY think you spend too much time online - without being offended when they tell the truth.

Regain your life - it really is so much more interesting and rewarding.