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Online Addiction

Facebook, the social networking powerhouse providing entertainment, enjoyment and a means for communication for its 400 million plus users, can now add addiction to its list of services.

Since 2006, Facebook uploaded its Web site to anyone over the age of 13 with a valid e-mail address and allowed users to network, send messages to friends and update on their personal status. Gaining momentum seemingly over night. It grew to become the most used social networking site of 2009, according to Entertainment Weekly, beating out rival MySpace.

“Facebook is a must-have, it allows me to interact with friends near and far,” Vanessa Sones, TJC freshman said. “It is simple and clean, convenient to use without the cheesy backgrounds. It’s the adult MySpace.”

However adult it seems, Facebook still provides entertainment with music uploading capability and a library of over 200 applications. It allows users an ample amount of services to engage in.

“Facebook took a page from Apple and decided to capitalize on applications and it seems to be working,” Spencer Hill, TJC design major said. “It’s giving us apps that are fun and relative to our personalities.”

Relatable to its users, the applications have become a past time for some, but addiction for others. One of which being Facebook’s most popular application titled FarmVille.FarmVille is a real-time simulation game that allows Facebook members to manage a virtual farm by planting and harvesting virtual crops while raising virtual livestock. With over 83 million active users plowing their simulated fields away, it has been given mixed reviews.

Some view it as a fun way to experience life on the farm.”FarmVille is farm life without the bad parts and smells,” Sones said. “Not to mention, I can pick my neighbors.”

However, some see the idea of virtual farming as intriguing as actual farming.

“Why would I choose to spend my online time virtually farming when I don’t spend my actual time really farming?” Hill said. “I don’t find virtual labor fun having to tend to fake food you can’t even enjoy and eat. But I guess there’s a market for virtual crops.”

Since the game’s release in 2008, more than 10,000 cases of addiction towards the application have been reported according to Zynga, the game creator. A third of those reported are among college students who have put classes and schoolwork on hold to oversee agriculture.

“Computer usage is accepted and encouraged in my lecture class, but I have had to ask students to remove their computers due to that game,” Jim Richer, TJC English professor said. “Of all things to be doing, they choose virtual agriculture.”

Some students don’t even bother to go to class and choose to manage their crops instead.

“I like FarmVille. It’s entertaining, but I don’t think I’m addicted to it,” Sones said. “And sure I have missed a few classes and been late to a couple for checking up on my neighbors field, but it’s not controlling my life. It’s a hobby really. Some people collect stamps, I water virtual plants.”

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