Leaving FarmVille

March 28, 2012

I don’t like this. Ever since Facebook changed their privacy settings, I’ve been getting slammed. Words with Friends, Bejeweled, Jeopardy, Blackjack and Poker—everything my Facebook Friends are playing, I’m now being asked to play along.

But the worst one is FarmVille. It seems like nine out of ten posts these days are unwanted information on new plots of irrigated farmland, planting statistics, crop harvests, and status updates for imaginary and improbable farm animals.

I went back and read the fine print. Because I agreed to Facebook’s “privacy” terms, it gives Mark Zuckerberg and his cronies the right to share my information (via my Friend’s Friend lists) with anyone they care to share it with.

I guess that’s the new definition of social networking.

Don’t get me wrong. I tried it once. FarmVille, that is. I even tried CityVille. Hell, I was playing SimCity when Mark Zuckerberg was still mastering toilet training. I just don’t like those games

And I especially don’t like them when someone is trying to make me play them.

I started receiving offers of Arctic Rabbits, newly delivered from the Winter Wonderland Train. Aren’t they cute? How about some tasty White Truffles, happily unearthed by grinning pink pigs. Yum, yum.

Oh, no: Blue Ponies and Pink Calves have been found wandering the paddocks and pastures. They’re all alone—better adopt them before someone else does!

Ruefully, I thought: if I had taken advantage of the offer to collect all those extra Fence Posts, I could have corralled those furry little fuckers weeks ago and avoided the whole situation before it got out of hand.

And then there’s all this weird braggadocio: winning oysters during Double Mastery events, and achieving Level 3 of Shivering Duck Mastery: woohoo, I’ve mastered shivering ducks, whatever that means. Time for a beer.

I’m not bitter. I understand technology and capitalism, mostly. This is how things work today, in our Brave New World. So I did the only thing possible.

I deleted every app in my Facebook account. I flipped every switch I could find to “Hell, NO,” and then suspended my Facebook page to boot. Just to try it on for size: to get a feel for life without Facebook and its annoying, pervasive, irritating little apps.

I was dreaming happy Green Acre dreams that night: of a world without technology, of tending real farms and real crops, no blue horses or weird plants that never die, when my cell phone rang. “Hello?” Christ, it was 2:37 in the morning.

“This is Mark.”

“Oh…uh, hello Mark.” Who the hell was Mark?

A long unpleasant pause. “We have to talk, kipatron.”

“Excuse me? Why are you using my email address to…um, to address me?”

This is Mark Pincus.”

“What? Mark…Pinko?”

Mark PINCUS. CEO of Zynga?” Like I should know.

“Oh. Wow. That’s great. Congratulations, I guess. Why are you calling me in the middle of the night?”

“ZYNGA? The game maker?” A deep mouth-breathing sigh. “Hello? FarmVille? Ringing any bells yet, kipatron?”

“Stop calling me that. So what? I don’t want to play your stupid game.”

“You haven’t even earned Level 1 yet. No coins, no livestock, not a single acre of arable land. And you don’t want to play.” His sarcasm was intolerable.

“Leave me alone.”

“You’re a coward. How do you expect us to achieve perfect FarmVille harmony if people like you give up without even trying? You’re not only a coward; you’re a bad game player.”

I refused to answer. I wanted to hang up but couldn’t find the damned END CALL button without my glasses. As I was scrambling on the nightstand for my cheaters, Pincus spoke for the last time.

“Games can be good, kipatron,” he said in an ominous voice. “You’ve been warned.”

The phone clicked in the dark as he hung up the line, leaving me to think about his warning. What was that supposed to mean? Man, I thought, rich people are really weird.

I had just managed to fall back to sleep when the phone rang once more. Jesus, this guy just didn’t quit. I grabbed it up, pulling in a deep breath—I was going to really give it to that game playing asshole this time. “Listen, you son of a…”

“Wait! Wait, please. HelloKip?”

What? This wasn’t Mark Pincus’ voice. This one was higher, more nasal. And he seemed almost…apologetic. “Yes?”

“Kip. Listen, I’m terribly sorry. I hope I’m not too late. This is Mark Zuckerberg. I need to talk to you about your Facebook account.”

I said nothing, waiting for him to continue. What could I possibly say anyway, in the face of such insanity?

“Kip, please.” He was practically begging. “We want you back.”

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