Drowning in candy

index1The first thing I noticed about it was on Facebook. Michele gave a life in Candy Crush Saga – weird stuff like that. Just two people seemed to be sacrificing themselves for candy; two people I didn’t know well enough to ask if they had sought professional help.

Next, my friend Liz started playing Words With Friends less often (if you saw how many WWF games I have going you might seek the same help for me, but that’s a story for another time). What’s up? I asked.

Candy Crush Saga, she said.

Liz is a bad influence. My preoccupation (NOT addiction) with Angry Birds was all her fault.

Liz, that’s so addictive, I said. I’ve read about people spending a fortune playing it (it’s free, but if you want extra help or more “lives” that let you play more often, you pay money). As long as you resolve to never pay anything, it’s fine, she said.

Well, that sounded like a good exercise in self-control, so I thought okay, I’ll just see what all the fuss is about.

At least I’m in good company.

From the Sunday Review in the Times:

I’ve been on this level for two weeks. How long am I going to persist with this?

Will I keep placidly playing this game over and over like the frog in boiling water, passive in the face of its own destruction?

What if how you play Candy Crush is how you play life? Is it a test of my character?

And Gail Collins’ very funny column last December:

It’s about matching little colored thingies on your iPad or phone. I am not going to explain it in any more depth because that would just make this whole discussion more humiliating.

However, if you stick with me, I am going to try to use it to make a sweeping point about public policy, ending with some severe questions about the political career of Chris Christie.

About the game: It’s been played about 150 billion times over the past year. There is no reward for winning; you just advance to another level in an ever-growing chain of chocolate mountains and lemonade lakes.

I told you this was embarrassing. I used to be addicted to playing BrickBreaker on my cellphone, and I now recall those days as my own personal version of Athens in the Age of Pericles.

I am only modestly comforted by the fact that half the people I know all seem to be in the same ditch. My sister Mary Ann got lost in the game while she was parked in a shopping mall, until a woman started banging rather urgently on her window.

“She said she wanted to make sure I was O.K. because I was sitting with the car running and my head in my hand for a long time. I thanked her and said I was texting,” said Mary Ann. “I was too embarrassed to say I was playing Candy Crush.”

“But also,” she added rather defensively, “I was listening to NPR.”

There are some points I want to make about why it’s so addictive; why both Liz and I dream about those stupid candies, but now, sorry, I have to go listen to NPR.



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