What's the big deal? It's just a game.

Sep 10, 2009 by

Facebook apps

Bejeweled Blitz.  Mafia Wars.  FarmVille.

You know the ones.  These are the Facebook applications you and your friends are playing.  The scores will even post to your profile page.  You can show your friends just how well you’re doing and invite them to play along too.

As I scrolled through my Facebook page I saw the pretty pictures that showed what my friends were scoring and earning.  I finally decided to try one of them, figuring it was just a game, so why not?  I started playing Bejeweled Blitz about a month ago and I was hooked immediately.  I love the idea of being able to compete against my friends.  The game even tells me that I’m doing a good job when I take out lots of jewels.  “Incredible!”  I’ve got positive reinforcement for playing well.

As I was playing I discovered how to increase my scores with power gems and hypercubes.  I love the sounds of blowing up jewels.  I know that I’m getting closer to my high score.  It even keeps track of my progress for me and allows me to get to the gold level when I’ve proved how dedicated I am.

All it takes is one minute to play.

And the point is?

I got hooked. I started thinking about the game all the time.  I would want to play it for just a little while and before I knew it 3 hours had passed.  I blew off my work and my chores just so I could play a few more games.  They only took a minute, so I figured that I could just get a few more in.  Then I wanted to end on a higher score.  27,000 points wasn’t enough.  I wanted to end on a good note.  When I hit the good note I thought, “I wonder if I can beat that one?”

Before I knew it I was feeling the same feelings and thinking the same way I did while I was gambling.

It’s nice to relax.  It helps me feel better.  I’m just taking a break with the game.  It takes my mind off of things.  Just one more game.  Ten more minutes.

My boyfriend would sit next to me on the couch and I would barely acknowledge him or even recognize that he was there.  I didn’t care about updating my blogs or spreading the word on my book about addiction.

Ooops.

Great, so what now?  I am quite proud to say that I actually use my book.  I don’t want to spend so much time playing anymore so I found some of the stepping stones that would help me change my frame of mind.  When I wanted to play I have gone for a walk.  When I realize that I’m stuck on playing the game I will click on my home page during a game so it takes me away from the Blitz.

My number one tip is to just stop! Then I can take a step back and breathe.  The next step I can take is to choose to do something else, whether its walking, tapping, dishes or just sitting.  The important thing to realize is that the choice becomes mine because I am no longer a victim of the game.

Is any of this sounding familiar to you?  I invite you to ask yourself these questions:

  • Have you ever lost time from work or school due to playing your games?
  • Has your gaming ever made your home life unhappy?
  • Have you ever felt remorse for playing so long?
  • Did your game create a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
  • When you stopped playing did you feel like you had to return as soon as possible to do better at the game or beat your score?
  • Do you ever play longer than you had planned?
  • Have you ever played to escape worry, trouble, boredom or loneliness?

How did you do?  This isn’t meant to make you feel bad or tell you that you’re doing something wrong.  The purpose is to bring awareness to your life.  When you can shine the light on a problem and see it for what it is you can deal with it.  Many times this actually helps you get your life back.  Freedom is a good thing.

Shine ~ the world needs you!

P.S.  Please leave your comments below.  I’d love to hear from you!

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8 Comments

  1. Roger

    Very thought provoking thoughts. I believe we all have our escapes, for some it’s games for some it’s food but for all it’s a “drug” of escape. Thank you for shareing your insight and story. You have an amazing way of touching the lives of many.

    • janecares

      Wow! You’re welcome. I’m glad you found it useful. Thanks so much for your kind words.

  2. Thanks for this article. I love the games too, so this really struck a chord with me.

    This post helped me understand better what addiction is, what it “feels” like, and WHO I’m missing out on when I’m more focused on getting the high score.

    It also reminded me that we have a choice – in everything. To pick it up. To play one more minute. To put it down.

    Thank you for this work – now, more than ever!

  3. Thank you for this post Kim. Yes, these questions sound very familiar. Those it is only a game ‘except when’ questions.

    I am acutely aware since my recovery from gambling of the games on the internet that can consume us if we allow it. I am grateful to say I do not engage in internet games; although, I should say much time can be consumed on Facebook and Twitter.

    When I was gambling here were my answers..

    Yes I lost time from work.
    Yes gaming made my home life unhappy.
    Yes I felt remorse for playing so long.
    Yes it created a decrease in ambition.

    Yes, when I stopped playing I felt like I wanted to return as soon as possible. For me, I spent 13 years trying to win back the two jackpots I won in one night.

    Yes I played longer than I planned. What plan?

    Yes I played to escape worry, trouble, boredom or lonliness. – I played to escape my feelings and what I learned ultiimately was that I was not only running from my life situation at the time I was running from myself.

    I lost much more than money, Kim. I lost my connection with God, 13 years of my life..I lost myself and what was most important to me in life.

    I am grateful to say that I have transcended my desire to ‘play’. The greatest gift I received was myself and my life back.

    You are so right, Kim…

    Step One – STOP!

    Thank you for your post.

    • janecares

      Nancy, I appreciate your willingness to share with us.

      The questions you answered were adapted from the standard questions asked in many twelve step programs. While this was truly a blog post on facebook application addictions, I believe that there are main similarities between most addictions and bad habits. My recovery from gambling addiction has come from a variety of sources and one of the objectives of this blog is to share pieces of them all. I know that many people identify with the twelve step programs and their principles, but I found that it wasn’t a fit for me.

      As I like to say, take what you need and leave the rest.

      Thanks so much for spreading the awareness.

  4. You are welcome, Kim.

  5. Gina

    it started 6 yrs ago when i was living in a new town without friends, and all my old friends desertedme after finding relationships. now at 42 yrs old and stuck home alone most of the time life became depressing. so i started online poker, i was so good at it, it made me feel like i was accomplishing something. after almost three yrs of playing poker almost everyday it hit me. i was tired. i know this sounds real sad yet its the truth.
    then, my mother, offered to let me live with her until i found a job, she lived north about one hundred miles, 5 miles from a casino. i was so happy i fiound two jobs and a nice townhome. it staeted, the winning and the losing, the highs and the lows,
    i realized at my age meeting friends was going to be difficult. 3 yrs later and i am a problem gambler.. I nowhave some sort of an anxiety disorder and i sleep alot. gambling was something fun to do that helped me deal with my loneliness. i’m scared…..it was the only fun thing i had to do in my life, now i have nothing, no money and a huge problem to deal with….i have to stop. i barely have less than a part time job…..
    Gambling has made me a sad person, someone who doesn’t care as much about life. if i had stopped when i had won a few times, now, i really dont think this is possible……i’m wondering if most gamblers play and play until it is gone….i’m tired,if only the people in my life would have treated me better….i have to quit blaming and realize i have a problem.

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