Monday, July 1, 2013

Crushing the Facebook Candy Habit: From Curious to Crushed in One Day

It started innocently. Those little icons in the upper right-hand corner of my Facebook page showed yet another invitation to play Candy Crush Saga. Not interested. I had dutifully blocked repeated Facebook games, proud of saying "no" to Farmville and Bubble Blitz. My self-righteous superiority would soon crash with my pride and my wallet, all because of a sweet, innocent game.
The Lure
"Computers are for work and the occasional shout-out to family and friends on Facebook," I proclaimed. Yet, news feed posts showed family and friends had reached Level 14 or 22 or 38. "What was that game again?" Candy Crush. "Busy, no time," I thought. When the next invitation came from an old school friend, I thought, "Great, we'll have a chance to play each other."
Change of Heart
Curious, I accepted. The multicolored array of columns and rows of candies beckoned. I bounced through the first several levels of the game with ease. Soon, I ran out of time, and life, and was informed I could buy more chances or wait thirty minutes to try again. Buy life? No way. I'd wait.
Child's Play
Throughout Friday night and most of Saturday morning, thirty minutes passed, another thirty, waiting for life, to play again. Seemingly everyone in my Facebook world was playing CCS, so ahead of me. I was in the virtual wait "hold" zone, twenty levels behind friends and family.
The "Saga" kept me company all of Saturday. I'd switch back and forth between a work project, and my new hobby to clear my mind. Impatient, my pride overtook good sense as I ran out of life-again. Finally, I succumbed. "What would it hurt to spend $1.00 to play? You're enjoying this. Let's go!" With one click the first shot at life got me through the level of jelly, brought combinations of striped candies and cleared my path onto new worlds.
Candy Crush Crash and Burn
The new levels were old levels with more challenges but I didn't care. I zoomed forward. At Level 38, I hit the wall. No telling how many times I'd clicked for life, but just like Vegas, you have to know when to walk away. I said to Barney the dog, warily eyeing the machine occupying my attention, "I'm done." He seemed to nod approval as I deleted the Facebook application. Feelings from sorrow to stupid lingered, having spent who knows how much to play a game. Thought of gamer gurus laughing at me for having fallen into their trap made it worse.
Wakeup Call
The next morning I was pulling out of my parking space at church when my cell rang. Unknown number. I answered. "Credit card services," she said. "We're calling about a series of charges to your card yesterday." "How much?" I asked. "$43.00, but they're all in weird little amounts, $1.20, $1.00, $2.40. Did you want to pay Facebook $43.00?" I said, confessionally to the unseen authority figure, "Yes ma'am, it started with a free game of Candy Crush Saga. I reached Level 38 before realizing I had to quit. Don't worry, I've left the application." She laughed. She'd heard it all before. Holy intervention!
This week the invitations to play (again) have shown up in my news feed. My friends and family are rocking right along the Candy Crush trail, but they're smart enough to play for free. Kenny Rogers sang it right: "Know when to walk away, know when to run." Candy Crush, I'm gone," and so is $43.00.

It looks so innocent, like child's play with little sweet candies staring back at you on the screen. Beware. Once you begin the game, you can't stop!
Credit: Albert Hsieh

No comments:

Post a Comment