My Family Farm

I want to tell you about my favorite online game because it isn’t just a game, it’s a social phenomenon.

There are several of these farm games, and millions of people are playing them all over the world. I have 114 Facebook game partners (whom I’ve never met, of course) and we play together. Together means precisely that. We don’t play against each other. The game is completely non-competitive.

In the game, you create a farm, grow crops and fruit trees, buy machines to produce food, toys and bouquets of flowers. You also have a kitchen where you make dishes with the food you produce. There is a pond where you catch seafood.

If you help your game friends, you get prizes, and the better other players do, the more prizes you get. There are challenges where players get prizes but the supply of prizes is unlimited. You don’t have to worry that other people win everything and you will be left with nothing. Prizes include cute little squirrels, penguins and toucans. You can decorate your farm and send gifts to other players. Sending gifts and responding to requests for help is rewarded.

There is no space in this game for anger, competition or resentment. There is also no possibility of losing. If you don’t complete a challenge, a new one appears immediately. A while ago, we all observed Ramadan on the farm and everybody got prizes. Now we are ready to celebrate Halloween.

This is a game for busy people who can’t play for 2 hours straight. There isn’t anything to do in the game for more than 15 minutes at a time. You can stay away for months and then gone back, having lost nothing. There are no leaderboards or score charts.

The players are overwhelmingly in their 30s and 40s. These are people who are busily constructing their careers and come to the game for a brief respite from the world of competitiveness, speed, and stress. These are also people who miss the crops and the natural cycles around which the lives of their ancestors revolved.

Mortal Offense

So it turns out that other people in Vine were offered to review the new biography of Stalin while I wasn’t. This is both wrong and stupid. Who is better qualified than me to review this book, seriously??

In the meanwhile, I’m getting offered endless Christian romance novels. Of which I obviously never bought or reviewed any in my life.

I feel very slighted. I never get upset when people receive computers or expensive gadgets in Vine (because I have received a fair share of them myself and can’t complain), but a biography of Stalin??? I want it! Now!

Psychoanalysis: How I Lost My Fear of Dogs

Of course, there is nothing wrong with disliking dogs, cats, birds, or earthworms. (Although, to be honest, I’m convinced there must be something deeply amiss about people who do not adore earthworms.) There is no need to analyze a mild dislike for anything or anybody. However, when an emotion begins to interfere with your normal daily existence, it’s a sign for you to address the issue.

I didn’t simply dislike dogs (which, yet again, is a normal, healthy thing to do). I detested them passionately. Seeing a dog from a distance of 1,000 feet would be enough for me to disrupt my daily walk and run home in a huff. Obviously, this is neither healthy nor normal. 

So here is a reenactment of how I solved that problem.

Analyst: When you are walking down a road and you see a dog, what feelings do you experience? Imagine yourself walking right now. Suddenly, you see a dog. What is it that you feel right now?

Me: Anger! I feel anger and resentment.

Analyst: Who are you angry with?

Me: Dog owners. [A long rant about the inconsiderate dog owners follows but I will spare you having to go through it.]

Analyst: Stay in this emotion of anger and resentment towards the dog owners. What word comes to mind that you could use to describe the dog owners?

Me: Traitors! They are traitors!

Analyst: Whom did they betray?

Me: [A long rant about how I totally understand that this is completely irrational because I know that dog owners didn’t betray anybody.]

Analyst: That’s OK, we are not trying to address the rational here. Whom did the dog owners betray?

Me: [Another long rant about how I totally understand how weird I sound, etc.] Me. They betrayed me.

Analyst: How did they betray you?

Me: [Yet another long rant, etc.] They betrayed me by having a dog.

Analyst: Did anybody have a dog among your friends or family when you were growing up?

Me: No, nobody did.

Analyst: Go back to the feeling of being betrayed by somebody with a dog. Who was that person?

Me: I can’t think of anybody.

Analyst: Stay with the feeling. Remember another situation when you felt this way.

Me: Well, actually, I felt this way when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I felt the same anger and resentment.

Analyst: OK. Who had diabetes in your family?

Me: My grandfather did.

Analyst: How did your grandfather feel about dogs?

Me: Oh. Oh, oh, oh. I cannot believe I forgot this. [A long rant on how stupid I am for having forgotten this and wasted so much time, etc.]

Analyst: It’s OK, tell me, what was it about your grandfather and dogs?

Me: When I was little, I really loved my grandparents. But then my grandmother died of cancer at the age of 54. And my grandfather remarried. For some reason, my mother felt mortally offended by his remarriage and did everything she could to distance me from my grandfather. My grandfather and his second wife bought a dog. And my mother kept telling me, “You see? Your grandpa doesn’t love you. He betrayed you for a dog. He now loves the dog more than you.” I was 7, and I think I kind of believed that.

After this insight, my terror of dogs started to recede. I’m not planning on buying a dog or donating money to dog shelters but at least I can now be around a dog without freaking out.

Of course, now everybody who is reading this feels vaguely cheated. “And you needed 31 years and 94 hours of psychoanalysis to arrive at this huge revelation?” people will ask. “This was all completely obvious!”

The problem is, however, that the roots of the problems you have been struggling with for decades are just as obvious to everybody who isn’t you as my problem with dogs is obvious to everybody who isn’t me. We cannot access our own subconscious. This is why all talk of self-analysis is bunk. Even if somebody had told me why I detested dogs, I would have immediately forgotten, rejected, or dismissed this information. 

More Fun With Google

I also read a suggestion online to enter the following into Google Translate and press sound:

“pv kkk pkkk pvpvpv ppkk pddd bschk bschk pv zk pv bschk pv pv pv bschk bschk bschk kkkkkkkkkk bschk bsch.”

Curiously, Google identified the language of this phrase as Czech and asked me whether instead of “pv kkk pkkk pvpvpv ppkk pddd bschk bschk pv zk pv bschk pv pv pv bschk bschk bschk kkkkkkkkkk bschk bsch” I actually wanted to say “pv kkkkkk pvpvpv ppkk pdf bschk bschk pv zk pv bschk pv pv pv bschk bschk bschk kkkkkkkkkk bschk bsch.”

I felt like I was part of a very weird conversation between me and my computer.

But go ahead, do it.