"these are my hands...these are my faults...these are my plans...these are my nasty little thoughts...i wrote them down for you to contemplate..."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Addictive Facebook Game Article for Massasoit Student Voice for May Issue

I joined Facebook in 2007, but didn’t start playing any games on there until January 2010. I noticed that all my friends on Facebook were playing all these games like, Farmville and Mafia Wars; but I just didn’t have any interest in playing them. Then a guy I liked asked me to join Farmville, so I could send him chickens he needed for his farm. I took the bait, immediately joined, and began working on my farm. The first thing I was excited about was the fact I could make my own character. It was possible to finally have my dream hair color and style; and it looked fantastic with my overalls. Then I started buying seeds, planting them, watched my crops grow, and then harvested them. I visited my friend’s farms and helped them out. I was starting to have a lot of fun doing this. Perhaps too much fun, because the day came when I realized I would start actually timing when I had to go to my farm and harvest my crops. I remember telling my mother I had to wait until I could my strawberries grew so I could harvest them before we left. It felt so natural when I said it too; as if it was perfectly normal to make your plans according to when you had to harvest your crops. Sadly, that was not the moment when I realized I had a problem. Remember I mentioned I had joined Farmville in order to send chickens to the guy I liked? In order to send him chickens I had to reach a certain level, so I started doing a little extra farming to get to that level. I had also just started taking classes for the first time in years; it was my first semester at Massasoit, so I wasn’t home too much during the day. I would worry about my crops while I was in classes. Thank goodness I didn’t realize at the time that I could go to the computer lab and play Farmville there. I was finally able to send this guy chickens, and I sent a lot of them. Of all the crazy things girls do to get a guy; this may make the top ten. Well, at least I learned a valuable lesson I will surely pass on to my children someday. Guys will not fall in love with you just because you send them chickens. Maybe if I had watched more “Little House on the Prairie”, I wouldn’t have gotten myself in this mess to begin with. There must have been an episode in which Laura, her sister Mary, or even good old Nellie sent a chicken to a guy they liked. Anyways, I realized that I was spending too much time worrying about strawberries, peas, corn, and pigs; actual farmers most likely didn’t worry about harvesting their crops as much as I did. I deleted my farm. I was free and no longer playing any games on Facebook. Friends would send me invites to join Farmville; and I would always kindly tell them I was a recovering Farmville addict. Then, a little more than a year later fate intervened. Facebook announced they were adding an Oregon Trail game. I was overjoyed. See, for years I have loved playing Oregon Trail. I had it as a game on my old cell phone. It would be on my Blackberry but I am too cheap to pay for it. Many think Oregon Trail is boring; but I ask you, what is boring about traveling across the country in a covered wagon??? You can hunt buffalo, you learn facts about places like Soda Springs, and when people die of horrible illnesses like dysentery you can make tombstones for them. I’m pretty sure I traveled the Oregon Trail in a past life; that’s the only explanation I can come up with to justify my obsession. I told myself I would only play once. I would make it across the country and that would be it. I traveled with imaginary people so I wouldn’t have a personal attachment to the game. Ironically, I chose to be a farmer for my occupation. I was off an adventure. Until winter came, and I was informed it was too cold to continue traveling. I was devastated and thought I should try once more. This time I chose new people to travel with and named them after my friends. Jason, Jenny Lee, Kevin and Petey were my companions. It was a little more fun to ride across the country with people I knew, and when they came down with horrible diseases I was more determined to help cure them. Two weeks into playing and I am at level 22. We are all currently resting right now, and on our way to Fort Hall. I am not at all ashamed to say that I am, once again, to a Facebook game. I even am playing in secret, I don’t post anything about the game on my Facebook page and no one knows I play. Clearly, I just blew my cover, but that’s okay. The secret I have been keeping for 2 weeks has been weighing me down. I decided to not only go public with my Oregon Trail addiction; but also to find out why makes any Facebook game so addicting. I sent messages to my friends on Facebook that played games; and even to two friends I knew had stopped playing Facebook games. The very first thing I noticed is that there are A LOT of games to play on Facebook. Besides Farmville, there is Frontierville, Sorority Life, CafĂ© World, Treasure Isle, Mafia Wars, Bejeweled, Tetris Battle, and many more. One friend admitted that she is addicted to Farmville, and described it as, “…my little world that I created and no harm can come to anyone here…it’s like my safe zone”. Another friend explained that her boyfriend works from 3-11pm and playing games on Facebook keep her entertained. She also mentioned that they are, “…a great break from schoolwork”. Both of my friends mentioned that they go offline and make themselves unavailable to chat on Facebook so that they are not disturbed. The two of my Facebook friends that had quit playing games also provided me with some great information. One of them had been stationed in Iraq, and described playing Mafia Wars as, “…my outlet while in Iraq. Now that I’m home my family is my outlet”. My other friend told me that she loves the Facebook games; but she quit because, “I was spending way too much playing the games. I also think it’s another reason why I wasn’t doing so well in school last semester”. She also explained to me that she grew tired of , “…having to gain friends I didn’t know to get to the next level on some of the games…also there were some games that I passed all the levels and there was nothing else to do so I got rid of the game”. In order to reach certain levels or obtain certain items for the game you are playing; sometimes you have to pay to do so.  Both of my Facebook friends who had quit playing the games confessed to spending quite a bit of money during their playing time. I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of people play these games on Facebook in order to escape from reality, just for a little while. These games help some people unwind, provide entertainment, and are just play fun. I did find two success stories of friends who are recovering from Facebook game addiction, very inspiring. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have spent far too much time away from the Oregon Trail. Winter is quickly approaching, and we have many miles until we reach the west.
                                    ** I actually stopped playing Oregon Trail...but I'm sure I'll pick it up again**

My Editorial in the May Issue of the Massasoit Student Voice

A Slap in the Face
There were a few things that I considered writing about in my column this month; rising gas prices, unemployment rates, education reform, and finally decoding the inspirational words of Dr. Seuss. But, while reading articles on huffingtonpost.com one afternoon, something caught my eye.  It was the type of article you read, and then have to re-read because you think you may have missed something the first time. Apparently, a new stipulation has been added to the James Zadroga 9/11 Health And Compensation Law, and it’s not a good one. The 9/11 health law covers the medical expenses for the thousands of first responders to the World Trade Center that fateful day. A second part of the law covers the medical expenses for survivors, which includes office workers, bystanders, and residents. Well, come July, when these heroes and victims go to see their doctor, they will be informed that in order to continue receiving medical treatment their names will be run through the FBI’s terrorism watch list. Actually, all their personal information will be run through the FBI terrorism watch list, places of birth, addresses, government ID numbers, etc. I know some people might think this is not a big deal, but it really is. Stop and think for a minute. On that morning, almost 11 years ago, these brave men and women didn’t think twice about running into the twin towers. Afterwards, when the towers fell, the only thought of the people digging through the rubble was to find survivors. Amongst the tragedy unfolding around them, not one of them gave any thought to their health and their safety. They were concerned about others, and that is what makes these people heroes. Health issues began to arise among the first responders not too long after. Some reported are post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, sinusitis, asthma, and respiratory/lung problems, just to name a few. Various types of cancer have also been linked to the toxins inhaled at Ground Zero. The 9/11 health law provides medical care for these brave first responders and to the survivors, BUT, first they just have to check if you are a terrorist. I don’t think I could look an ill police officer or firefighter in the eye and say, “Thanks for everything you did that day. Your courage is inspiring. Now, I’m just going to have to run all your information through the FBI database, just to make sure you aren’t a terrorist. I’ll have my secretary call you to set up another appointment when you are in the clear. Have a good day!” It’s insulting, embarrassing, and unnecessary. By allowing this ridiculous amendment to be added to the 9/11 health law; our government is implying that here in the United States, we trust no one. In my opinion, this new requirement is a slap in the face to the more than 30,000 first responders and survivors suffering from emotional and physical health ailments. Here are the messages our government SHOULD be conveying; thank you for your unselfishness. Thank you for sifting through piles of debris to search for survivors. It is a miracle you survived, you are a strong person. Everything you did that day is appreciated. Now that you are sick let us do everything to help you, no questions asked…

Saturday, May 21, 2011

From My Quote Collection: Part Deux

"I'm worst at what I do best...And for this gift I feel blessed...Our little group has always been...And always will until the end" ~from the song, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places"~Ernest Hemingway

"Until you make peace with who you are, You'll never be content with what you have"~ Doris Mortman

"Music is the art of thinking, with sounds"~Jules Comburieu

"I will not be nice, I am never sorry, I have no regrets: What is before me belongs to me"~Elizabeth Wurtzel

"Everything I'm not...Made me everything I am"~from the song, "Everything I Am" by Kanye West

"Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old"~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there"~Lewis Carroll

"Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering"~from the book "Pooh's Little Instruction Book by A.A. Milne

"I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, You know?"~Ernest Hemingway

** Stay tuned for more quotes that might make you smile, make you laugh...or even help you get through this crazy thing called life**