Browsing Facebook is easy, playing candy crush is simple, building my SimCity takes very little effort. I can easily burn several hours a day doing these things, and I can do them anywhere – on a plane, on a train, at my desk, in a meeting (!), on the loo, in bed. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and do them. I think of something funny, something that I think will make people laugh and so I make a mental note to post an update on Facebook in the morning. Sometimes I do it there and then in the middle of the night, in case I forget, and whilst I’m on my phone I may even sell some items on SimCity to get more money, to build a bigger city. I’m a terrible sleeper.
I’m currently stuck on level 500-and-something of Candy Crush Saga. I’ve been stuck on it for weeks and it’s really hacking me off. I contemplated paying for extra moves, or buying additional booster packs but I thought better of it. I’ve paid before, 69p, doesn’t sound a lot but each time you do it a small piece of your soul dies and your kharma shrivels up, like a slug exposed to salt.
I’m on level 15 of SimCity BuildIt, but I’ve only been on it a couple of weeks. I look enviously at my SimCity neighbours, some who have row upon row of shiny skyscrapers and beaches and airports and beautiful people and … how do they do it? I’m so envious, I must work harder at mine, so I load it on iPad as well as iPhone allowing me to build my city anytime, anywhere, any place, it’s the right one, it’s the bright one, it’s Martini.
Facebook brings out the worst in me. I update my status at airports, that’s cool, and foreign restaurants, and cinemas, and concerts. I like to tell jokes to make me look funny as well. Basically I’m a show-off and an attention seeker. I also only choose to share select parts of my life – I choose my photos carefully, need to look good, need to look cool. I like to talk about my kids, but only the good stuff, the funny stuff. I don’t mention the arguments, the screams and shouts, the tantrums, the door slamming.
And possibly worst of all, when something exciting happens, I have this urge to take a photo and upload it to Facebook, often lessening the experience of the actual life moment itself as a result. I see life’s exciting events through a lens rather than just experience the event itself.
I also, rather ironically, get really annoyed by other peoples updates – people that show-off, people on beaches, people in schmalzy restaurants, people in airports mysteriously omitting their destination, making us guess where they’re heading. People posing in a selfie, people posting YouTube songs, like we care!! Yes that’s right, people identical to me, I’m a hypocrite.
I try and justify this nonsense to myself and it goes something like this – I work hard, I need to relax, I deserve to relax, and so this is my relaxation, playing SimCity. Therefore I wake at 3am to fill my factories with metal and wood, to build tools and equipment, ready for the morning. Perhaps I’ll even play a bit of CandyCrush too, then realise I haven’t played Words With Friends for a few days either and my Scrabble friends will be getting annoyed with me, so I’d better do that as well. I’m exhausted, but hey this is my relaxation time, I deserve it.
How warped and flawed is that thinking? Of course work is hard, and yes family life can be hard – thinking ahead and planning meals, cooking, cleaning, all this on top of a draining and demanding job takes time and effort, but it’s the same for everyone. So why then, when I have so little time for anything these days, do I feel the right thing to do is sit down and check my SimCity? My hammers and spades are ready – Yay! So I make more, but oh no my SimCity police force is understaffed and my SimCity citizens are getting antsy, my mayor approval rating is falling! So I switch to Candy Crush but this is such a hard level …
And no matter how hard I try, my SimCitizens are always pissed with me, because that’s how the game works. I built a police station but now they want fire protection, I build a fire station but now they want improved sewage and waste collection. It’s so insidiously stressful and it’s 100% self inflicted.
Meanwhile, I’ve only got 3 bloody likes for that YouTube video I posted on Facebook? What the HELL is wrong with these tone-deaf idiots? And on and on it goes.
All these things we do seemingly for pleasure, but somehow I manage to make them my life. I become enveloped, my head is spinning – what to do next? Water my strawberries on Farmville or build more chairs to sell in SimCity? Those candies won’t crush themselves and if I’m not careful I’m going to lose at scrabble again. I’m not good enough, I’m failing at everything. Now I have traffic jams on my SimCity streets – sadface #sadface :-(.
Of course, to any sane person, none of the above is real, none of this is life, none of it is living. In the meantime, outside of my self-promoting digital world, out there in the real world, real people are feeling ignored, real bills are left unpaid, real relationships left untended, real problems unresolved. Life is hard, Damon Albarn was bang on, modern life is rubbish, so adding to this with digital nonsense is so utterly, unspeakably facile, I think my head might explode, and so it’s time to make some changes.
Click, whirr …
Facebook – deleted
Messenger – deleted
SimCity (BuildIt) – deleted
CandyCrush – deleted
Words with Friends – deleted
Google+ – deleted
Snapchat – deleted
=== The End ===