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Penguin Lust

February 2, 2010

These days, my daughter belongs to an online club where she presides over a bevy of lively, inch-high pets having the time of their animated lives.  Now it seems they need a bigger igloo. The igloo where they live and dart around is not big enough anymore. “Big enough for what?”  I ask. The penguins are small. Their bowls are tiny. The scale of the house seems fine for a family of aquatic birds. Are they asking for more? Are they not satisfied? Who, exactly, wants a bigger place?

I can see where she’s going with this. Big. The one-room igloo was fine at first, but now she’s looking to upgrade to a two-story one-dimensional log cabin.  She saw an offer and it looked attractive. As the cabin is also pink, she’ll need to trade in the blue carpet for one of a matching shade. With new pink walls, the blue (shag) carpet begs to be changed. The proposed expansion is troubling her. To finance it, she’ll need more money: bright coins earned by racing her penguins around the screen.

I remind her that feeding her penguins, furnishing their igloo, racing the penguins and building a new log house takes time away from her real cats, dog, homework and three-dimensional chores. Plus, the incessant racing seems to be wearing her out. “Can’t you and your penguins just have fun in the one-room igloo?”

“It’s not the penguins, Mom.” Then, as if it is the most natural, reasonable thing to want a bigger place: “We don’t have room for our stuff.”  So that’s it. “Ah, so that’s it.” I pause, hoping a helpful question will come to me. “Well, do you have to keep the stuff? Is it stuff you need?” She looks at me and I can tell she doesn’t know. Her penguins’ material life is expanding like kudzu, and she is barely treading water.

In the end she abandons the project: the igloo, the penguins, the wall sconces, the carpet, the membership dues, and most of all the racing, which makes us both want to collapse into a soft cartoon bed in the middle of the igloo – if only there were one.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Matt Nicodemus permalink
    February 5, 2010 1:04 pm

    And down with Farmville! In Taiwan, where I live, one of the top government official felt it necessary to urge workers throughout his ministry not to use their working time to raise virtual crops and whatever all else is involved with being a responsible member of Farmville.


  2. February 5, 2010 3:24 pm

    Oh yes: Farmville! Great anecdote. Do you have a link to that story? I think it would make good material for another installment on the insidious nature of the virtual life.

  3. Matt Nicodemus permalink
    March 1, 2010 3:22 pm

    “Facebook, Your New Name is Happy Farm in Taiwan,” Flip the Media blog.

    “From low art to no art — Fed up with your office job? Then do what Sam Leith did: become a cyber yokel instead,” by Sam Leith
    The Guardian, 10/24/09.

  4. Matt Nicodemus permalink
    March 1, 2010 3:35 pm

    Whoops! Forgot the link for the second item above, the Leith piece:

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