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A fool's harvest

I need to start this post with a disclaimer: I hate FarmVille

OK, I know "hate" is a not-nice word, so I will reconsider. . . . Nope, "hate" describes it.

If you have managed to remain blissfully ignorant of the object of my wrath, FarmVille is an online game millions of people play on Facebook. A strange game set on your own virtual farm, the object seems to be the continual harassment of your friends who do not play FarmVille. In the game, you plant virtual fields, grow virtual crops, sell those virtual crops for virtual money and spend real money on virtual things.

If you are on Facebook, you have undoubtedly received invitations to join and seen a steady stream of status updates from your farmfool friends.

Fully 10 per cent of Facebook users have registered to play this game, and as a result the founders Zynga ( have a cash crop of suckers who shell out hundreds of millions of dollars a few cents at a time.

Zynga is now worth something in the neighbourhood of $20 billion dollars. Most of the revenue Zynga harvests from FarmVille comes not from advertising, but from in-game micro-sales, where players basically buy shortcuts to success. Yep, do you see a

parallel? Monsanto-Zynga?

So why do I hate? Jealousy could be the underlying reason. Who would have thought that this many people would spend this much money to grow virtual asparagus?! I mean, $20 billion for a game where you can't even chop someone up? Ridiculous!

Beyond my smaller selfish nature lies a more relevant reason to dislike FarmVille.

FarmVille rubs me the wrong way because it adds an aspect of peer pressure to the Facebook community.

As with all social media applications, the value of FarmVille lies in connecting people. When you sign up for any of these apps, they pressure you into inviting your friends to join as well. With an app like FarmVille boasting 10 per cent of the Facebook population, it seems to loom larger than the rest through sheer volume.

Every single invitation you receive on Facebook is from some needy app that wants more users. Sadly, really useful tools get lost in the masses.

I find I sometimes won't even try out apps because I don't want to lend my name to these time vampires. As a result, I miss out on some well-crafted and useful applications.

Let us not forget the constant stream of FarmVille updates in your Facebook feed, bringing you yet more clutter and frivolous content. Is it any wonder many people eschew Facebook as irrelevant in their lives? Fortunately, you can block all FarmVille updates without blocking your friends.

Back to the reason for this rant: I see in the news that Zynga is filing for an IPO of $2 billion dollars. I won't buy, but it will probably go stratospheric - just another reason to hate!