Monday, 29 March 2010

On parental guilt and virtual strawberries


Right now I should be out fertilising. Or planting soy beans. Or harvesting strawberries. Nope, I haven’t gone all Felicity Kendall Good Lifeish, my son has hauled me onto Farmville.
There are times when I lack all parental willpower whatsoever and this was one of them. ‘Can I join Facebook, Mum?’ said James.
‘Certainly not,’ said I.
‘But Christian is on it.’
‘Well, whoopee for Christian.’

‘I’ve got 50 friends,’ added Christian with discernible pride.

‘Well, I sincerely hope you know all of them personally,’ said I, feeling very grown-up and responsible (quietly nudging aside the fact that I’ve clean forgotten where I picked up half my own friends on Facebook).

‘Well, I know some of them,’ he said.

Oh, for heaven’s sake. I spent the next hour unpeeling all manner of unsavoury looking types from his profile and giving stern warnings about Internet safety.

Once we’d done that, he showed James his farm. Let’s be quite clear here – it’s an online farm, where crops grow in a day and where the sheep line up neatly. I took a quick look and figured it might be educational – as in managing money, taking responsibility, learning cause and effect.

‘So, can I join? Just to play Farmville?’ said James. ‘It’s educational.’ He knows me too well.
I caved.

Of course the reality is that it isn’t remotely educational; it’s darned commercial.
‘What’s PayPal, Mum?’ asked James.
‘What? Why?’
Seems that, if you get impatient and can’t wait for weeks to earn your gold coins (to ‘buy’ your pigs and geese and crops and so on) you can pay REAL MONEY to bypass the boring bits. So I suppose there is an element of reality about it after all.

Of course it wasn’t enough for James to have a reasonable farm, he wanted a darn fine farm. Not content with soliciting my friends for manure and building materials, he sneaked onto my PC and joined me up.

I tell you, it’s stressful. ‘Oh dear, Mum. You didn’t harvest your crops, did you? They’re all dead.’

What? Will someone please tell me why I’m feeling guilty about virtual withered strawberries?

Probably because guilt is every working mother’s middle-name.

22 comments:

LittleGreenFingers said...

Loved this although I am now getting an idea of how much more complicated parenting will become over the next few years.

Farmville has not yet sucked me in - I have enough crops which die on me in the real world without inflicting a virtual blight in myself too.

Humdrum Mum said...

I agree wtih LGFingers, I haven't even done my own garden this year! I really don't want to face the "Can I get a mobile phone?" or "Can I join Facebook?" etc. Hopefully Elf will be too busy helping me in our own garden outside. - HMx

Preseli Mags said...

If it was a real farm there would be kilos of paperwork, the mud would be up to your armpits, the weather would be total pants, things would die and if you did get the buggers to survive the supermarkets would sell them at huge prices and then pay you the farmer less than they cost to produce.

Exmoorjane said...

LGF - Oh believe me, it gets more complicated by the second! I think back fondly to the days when building the farm meant Lego!

Humdrum: Yep, my hope too... James is begging for real chickens now, having looked after our next door neighbours. We'll see how his virtual ones do first!

Mags: Ah, so so true. I keep saying things like, 'but the pigs will need some shelter or arks' but seems not...

rachel said...

Remember the Tamagotchi craze - those virtual pets that quite unreasonably died if left unfed for long enough? And all the mothers who had to remind their children to look after them properly? Still an improvement on live guinea pigs. A whole farm is a bit much though - does it come with virtual muck?

Erica Douglas said...

I tried farmville but just didn't get it, probably just as well :)

Mrs Worthington said...

I have resisted becoming a virtual farmer for precisely the reason that my life is stressfull enough without worrying about withered plants. Do you grown anything worthwhile like red wine?

Irish Eyes said...

Hi Jane, next thing you know he'll be Ooooh ar-ing all over the place as he wonders will the hens lay, and how to deal with the runt in his litter of pigs!

Loved it! TG YD and ED are old enough not to need motherly oversight...tho' come to think of it.....

Jon Storey said...

No2 Daughter had Farmville. Even a major EU grant wouldn't save it now....

Jon Storey said...

PS, A bit like my garden!

Maddie Grigg said...

I can't believe you got sucked into FARMVILLE, of all things, especially living in the midst of such rurality. Your parental guilt should be harvested, immediately. For your sake, if not the son's.

Shiny said...

Oh, thank goodness! It's not just me. Only thing is, I don't have kids to blame my obsessive Farmville-ing on... dearie me, maybe I should just keep my mouth shut (fingers away from keyboard) before I reveal myself as a complete nutter... but the li'l (virtual) calves are so sweet x

LittleBrownDog said...

No, noooo - not virtual farms on Facebook. That way surely lies madness. I've told my son he can't join FB until he's legally allowed at 13. Far too much time spent virtually on PS3 and Nintendo flip notes - fear he will disappear entirely into cyberworld if I'm not careful.

Enjoy your farm - sounds a lot less hard work (and less smelly) than a real one - but, honestly, do you really have enough time for virtual crops??

Nickie @ Typecast said...

How conincidential - they were talking about this on the radio this morning and how over 80 million people are playing it!!!

I had a farm... I had two (Farmtown and Farmville) and I got rather obsessive over it, checking in every couple of hours to check on crops and whether my cows needed milking or eggs needed collecting. Then my son also wanted one on FB - he now has a farm, a mini planet (where he has "wife" and "twin girls" WTF?) and all manner of other alternative lives.

I tell you, I wish I had an AMAZING idea to sell to FB Applications - I'd be as happy as a pig in... well, you know :D

Tattie Weasle said...

OK The Boy is not allowed anywhere near a computer until he's 38, in fact there's a lot of things he's not doing until he's 38 which include girls, boys, cars, Def Leopard, drums and Wii...I'm sure it will make my mind a lot easier. But there again there is so much work to do and Cbeebies is rather boring for a seven year old let alone one who will one day be 38....I suscpect James' Farm will be very productive!

Fennie said...

Let's suppose you stole millions of pounds. Quite properly the law would deal with you severely. Yet if you steal millions, billions of hours from people across the world by getting them to grow virtual strawberries competitively you just make a fine income for yourself from advertising and PayPal. Governments everywhere should ban Farmville: it is a pathogen eating away at our lives. Haven't you all got better things to do I plead with my offspring?

仲亨仲亨 said...

TAHNKS FOR YOUR SHARING~~~VERY NICE.................................................

Cait O'Connor said...

I am only just finding my way round Facebook and haven't yet ventured into Farmville, I cannot imagine it and keep getting weird messages about it on my page from friends who are into it.

Young at Heart said...

oooh has it come to this....a virtual farm when you're living in the country?? Hay-ho they want all the lastest techno wizzardry when it suits them but woe betide you if you randomly call to ask where they are...

English Mum said...

Hmmm mine are exactly the same. Not the withered strawberries, I mean the children, obviously. My oldest recently told me he'd had a friend request from a girl in his class: 'it's funny, Mum, because she doesn't actually speak to me at all in real life'. Kids. They're just so darned weird.

Rob-bear said...

I got on to Farm-something or other, found it boring, couldn't figure out the rules, and closed up shop. I don't have a lot of time, and running a make-believe farm was below the bottom of the list.

Shh-Shh said...

hi there... u left a comment on my Shasha-craft-creations blog back in jan, sorry I havent been on tht blog much, only just moderated it! Bad Blogger ;p

just read ure farmville one ... so funny as I am in the exact same place as you!!! lol

take care
Sharon x