FarmVille and ChatRoulette: random irritations

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

It has been said that when it comes to stress, I’m something of a Typhoid Mary in that I’m a carrier rather than a sufferer.

For the most part, that may well be true. But there are things that even I get stressed about.

Like those silly little peel-off seals on bottles of juice that are impossible to remove without the aid of a sharp fingernail or a sharp knife; those awful, creepy, not-real-people automated answering systems used by so many big companies these days (are you listening Telecom?); and broad beans.

And FarmVille. What’s up with that? Apparently there are 80 million of you out there playing this strangely low-tech farm simulation game on Facebook.

I joined Facebook initially out of necessity: to keep in touch with a friend overseas who only ever seems to communicate via the social networking site. Within days of signing up I started receiving friend requests from people I knew and several I didn’t.

Within days of adding friends the FarmVille messages started appearing on my wall and the requests began to clutter up my page: there were offers of imaginary produce from imaginary farms, requests for imaginary help on imaginary farms, even imaginary gifts from imaginary farms. Imagine that.

There’s no getting away from FarmVille on Facebook. In fact, those 80 million users equate to about 20 per cent of all Facebook users. That’s more than Twitter has in total.

And I’m still not sure about Twitter. Sure, I have an account and do use it but …

As we continue to live more and more of our lives online, a Russian teenager has come up with the latest whizz-bang web idea in the form of ChatRoulette, a program that offers users random webcam chats with random strangers.

Now, I don’t know about you but I’ve already been scarred for life by some of the sights I’ve seen when logging on to chat on PalTalk with webcam view enabled. There are just too many people out there who like getting their dangly bits out for the camera for my liking.


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