Debate: Is Farmville a Waste of Time?

By Glenn and Jake 

With the exception of The Beatles and Kraft brand macaroni & cheese, no product has spread across America’s landscape like Farmville, the farm simulation computer game. Farming is a dying American tradition that is perpetually falling on ‘hard times,’ but computer simulation games have never been more popular. When you put them together the results are similar to other famous pairings such as Hall & Oates, Dr. Frankenstein and his monster and The Rescuers and going down under. One can make the argument that Farmville is a waste of time, but not without having to read this debate first.

Glenn: I don’t know any way to say this other than in the way a character on Farmville would: “YeS, FaRmViLlE iS a WaStE oF tImE.” Before you start lecturing me about how that’s not how characters on Farmville talk, I would like to point out that I do not know because I refuse to play the game. As a Jewish American and strong supporter of Israel, I find it offensive in addition to a waste of time. Think of all the hours that could have and should have been spent studying the Torah but instead are wasted playing Farmville, a game that says nothing about the history of the Jewish people. Though there are Jewish farmers in the world still, they are rare and the game does nothing to capture what their lives are like. For the sake of the six million, stop playing Farmville,

Jake: Like Glenn, I do not play Farmville and am Jewish, but where our paths diverge is that I am a farmer. Like many other Jewish farmers I support anything that has to do with farming, including strong support for the pesticide industry. I also am a huge fan of Facebook and its many applications. One has to do nothing more than type “super poke” into the search box on this very website to find that out. Farmville is not exclusively on Facebook, but it might as well be, since it is one of the three websites I am allowed to visit at the Washington District Library. In my opinion nothing on the internet is a waste of time, not even Family Matters fan fiction, of which I am an avid reader (I get it on my Kindle), or my Saved by the Bell recaps.

Glenn: Of course I agree that your Saved by the Bell recaps are not a waste of time. How could anything that evokes nostalgia and laughs together be a waste? I’ve never laughed at Farmville though - only at the people who have had to take second, third even fourth mortgages out on their actual farms in order to pay for their addiction to the game. The only nostalgia this evokes is what it was like to grow up in the Great Depression and see family after family lose their farms. That was because of adverse agricultural conditions but addiction to Farmville is the modern equivalent. In fact, I might even dare to say that addiction to Farmville has killed more people than an addiction to heroin.

Jake: Farmville is a productive use of time. In this day and age where we can elect Marxist Kenyans to the highest office in the country, our time is far less valuable than that of latter generations. Farmers were the backbone of society, but they have been replaced by factory farms that can give us far cheaper prices on eggs and pig brains. Now the only way to get in touch with the lost art of manual labor is through simulation computer games. Our version of back-braking hard labor is clicking on our mouses as if they were an elevator button or one of those buttons on a crosswalk that do nothing. Farmville is our only way to connect with nature.

We live in a postmodern dystopia, where everything, including manual labor, has become nothing more than a computer game enjoyed by the masses. These games are fun and how can anything fun be a waste of time? If that were the case then Ziggy would have disappeared from the pages of newspapers ages ago instead of becoming the subject of a feature film.

Glenn: You are making a very sophisticated cultural argument in defense of Farmville and I applaud it. But moral relativism and female circumcision defenses will only get you so far. Factory farms, for example, treat animals worse than we treat our elderly. There are plenty of other opportunities for manual labor in our day to day lives: cleaning our guns, spanking our children and writing check after check to Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. Even farming itself would be a better use of young people’s time! I know agribusiness has put most family farms out of business, but there’s also a huge push towards local, organically grown food - a trend Farmville ignores at its own peril. In other words, plant a garden instead of letting the Farmville application access your pictures, profile and other personal information.

Jake: I think you are completely missing the point of Farmville: encouraging members of our generation and lower to become farmers. It is an effect that worked so well for SimCity. Nearly everybody I know now lives in a city, and the only way of explaining it is that they were drawn to it because of the classic simulation game. Furthermore, many of our friends have taken residence in Portland, Oregon because of the classic frontier simulation game The Oregon Trail. Elderly people are always claiming that video games are to blame for all of society’s woes, but they are seldom to remark about the positive effects of games. This is why I hate anybody over the age of 45 with a deep guttural burning. This could be attributed to my acid reflux and the 13 seven layer burritos saturated in fire sauce I eat every day for lunch, but that just seems so unlikely. Although it definitely is why I always have diarrhea. To reiterate: Farmville is a good use of time that would otherwise be spent sniffing glue or reading Maxim magazine.


  1. After spending all morning working on an actual farm that's not on the internet, I just wanted to say one thing by way of paraphrasing a bumper sticker: NO FARMVILLE, NO FOOD!

  2. Farmville is exactly what Marx was talking about when he wrote about the alienation of the modern worker.

  3. And it was literally what Marx was talking about when he said "Farmville is the opiate of the masses."

  4. I like this debate a lot. It's the debate that took the longest to write (since I only get 1 hour at the library per day). Longest means the best, right?

  5. You only get an hour a day at the library? Welcome to Obama's America!

    We should have just done what Fox News wanted and closed ALL libraries -- that way you wouldn't have to put up with such indignities.

  6. i still don't understand what farmville is.

  7. i didn't even want to read this debate because it was about farmville. alas, having no tuesday debate this week, i scoured the archives for one i hadn't read and begrudgingly gave it a go.

    i liked it a lot. also, fun fact: north dakota is the only state without corporate farming and will continue to be so unless rick berg is elected to congress.

  8. Mary, hang onto your bonnet because there is still a debate coming today.

  9. still remains the best debate ever.

  10. It's the best debate until Mary and I debate Dream Zoo.


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