October 4, 2023

By Ahmet Abdulaziz….

About ten years back, I was a novice on the internet. In those days I had one Hotmail e-mail address. My interest in the internet was just sending and receiving emails from friends. Thus I was continuing my old hobby of pen friendship in a much quicker form on the internet.

It did not take much time before I found some other interesting sites. On one of the sites, amateur writers used to post their new short stories, poems, etc. and the readers were writing their comments. I also started posting my write ups on the site. However, the folds of the internet world continued opening before me. In a short span of time, I came across a number of friendship sites, where I started sending emails and messages to new friends around the world.

A new world had opened for me. I had started sending friendship requests randomly on a number of friendship sites. In a short period of time, I had developed a big circle of friends on the internet. But reading all those messages and responding to them soon became impossible for me. That led me to a process of picking some and ignoring others.

It was at that stage that an online friend of mine introduced me to “Facebook”. I had heard the name of Facebook before but had not found any inclination to know what it was. However, my online friend told me that Facebook is a tool to play a game called “Farmville”.   I found the game attractive, though I had never before played any online game.  Interestingly “Farmville”, happened to be the first and last online game that I ever played.

So that was my initial entry in the world of Facebook, way back in 2009. Later on, I came to know that my online friend had used me to play the game for his own benefit. In that particular game, friends help the original player to win the game. Thus I became a friend to help her out. It was not just one sided help. She too had been helping in building my farm, as I had been on her farm.

In a short period of time, I got addicted to the game. She further taught me how to create dummy friends with different email addresses and passwords. Thus in a short period of time, we were having about ten Facebook accounts with different names.

All of us were having our own farms and were also working on farms of each other as essential help. That was in turn helping us to rise to another level of the game.

We both were having passwords of all the Facebook accounts and were entering into each other’s farms according to our agreed time schedule. The game was so amusing, and I got so interested in it that I had left my participation in any other activity on the internet. There were no more online friends on friendship sites. I had stopped even replying to the messages and emails of my friends. I had stopped writing anything for any forum. I had stopped submitting my write-ups or poems on the sites where I had been active before.

The Farmville had swallowed my existence on the internet. I had become too busy playing the game. The sounds of the animals in the farm, their placement, construction of houses and yards in the farm, cutting of flowers and trees, creating new places for farms, arranging for additional land to grow food, etc were all that I was concerned about. For doing all this I was having much mail traffic from my online friend, to work out new strategies for farm planting, and to make our mutual work schedules.

Indeed it was not easy. When at home “Farmville” was taking most of my time. Even at my workplace, during the lunch hour, Farmville was my sole concern.

To avoid any personal problems at home, I introduced Farmville to my wife too. Though not too active, she also had started building her own farm. She had started helping me too, for which of course I also had to work on her farm. It continued for a couple of months. My whole time setup had changed. According to the agreed time schedule, on a number of days, I was working on farms until late at night. My whole Sunday was allocated to the game. My online friend, my wife, and ten dummy Facebook accounts were working very hard on our farms. There were 13 farms, in total that we were taking care of.

There was nothing for me in Facebook or in any other sites on the internet. Taking care of all these farms had become the centre of my attention.

Then one day all of a sudden, I entered into a hot discussion with my online friend, regarding time allocation for working in farms. The arguments flared up, to the extent, that in a short period of time, I found that I had lost not just the dummy Facebook accounts, but had lost my own Facebook account as well.  The Facebook of my wife also was no more. My online friend, in anger, had changed the passwords of all of the Facebook accounts.

So in a matter of minutes, I had lost all of my farms. The hard work done for months had simply gone in vain. I was not having any farm anymore. I realised that there were no farms to work in.  There was nothing left. I felt very dejected and depressed, but the positive side overcame the depression and I realised that I had returned back to the real world. I felt that I was having much free time now to do many things.  I re-started my running and painting. I re-started writing. I returned back to my previous life.

In a short period of time, I created my new Facebook page with a new user name and new password. I re-started everything afresh. Since then I have never even visited the “Farmville” page. The chapter of playing an online game that had started a few months back had ended, and I have not entered into that world again.

But what will happen in the future? Nobody knows. Where will my Facebook page lead me? No idea indeed.

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