Photo of an actual farm field (right)
Farmville. Chances are you’ve played the Facebook app at some point, or even more likely, you have an opinion on it. Due to its extreme popularity, 27 million daily players as reported by CNN, and the nature of Facebook’s features, you tend to see it around your screen whether you want to or not.
I’ll be blunt in saying that I’m not a fan. I have many friends who spend time on Facebook, buying, selling and harvesting - or pretending to. So allow me to respectfully point out a couple of thoughts.
The kids these days, they don’t get outside the house… and they’re certainly not learning to grow food.
Today more than ever, young people don’t know where their food comes from. Interest in farming as an occupation is at an all-time low, because of a number of factors including urbanization, corporate takeovers of farms and pressure to seek higher education in other fields.
Farming is hard work. But growing real food can also be very rewarding. It means being part of a community of people with a common interest who care about what they’re doing. It can be enriching, skill-building and psychologically beneficial. I don’t think Farmville can claim that.
The whole bad food system is being challenged by young farmers and agro-activists, creating a food movement built of organizations like FarmStart and Afri-Can FoodBasket that are getting more people involved in growing and harvesting food for richer lives.
Yet overall it remains that we have a broader generation or two lacking skills and knowledge in food and farming, but hooked to Facebook, simply moving a cursor to plough a field.
Farmers, if they had time to go on Facebook and see, would be mortified.
But maybe this is better than the “jumping on peoples heads” games I played in my childhood that my dad didn’t get. Perhaps Farmville can be an educational tool? Maybe it can be a hook to more blogs articles that write on Farmville as an excuse to talk about the growing food movement, and to get people involved? (By the way, choose organic foods, get to know your farmer, try growing something in your backyard, community garden or a pot!)
But to me, for now, make-believe farming is still a scary thing.
So tell me Famvillains, am I missing something?
Can anything good come out of this?