Quote of the Moment: Leave the Farmville, join the farm

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"FarmVille boosters like to say that one of the game's most important virtues is how it encourages cooperation among users. But I think that the game's social networking aspect is where FarmVille's limitations (and, by extension, the Internet's limitations) are most apparent. The open secret of Facebook is that it's not, in fact, a great medium for meeting new people. With the exception of those Facebook users who rack up friends like county fair prizes, most people use the site for either sustaining their existing friendships or rekindling old relationships - the classic Facebook connection of "What have you been up to since middle school?" Facebook is perfect for keeping in touch with the people you already somewhat know; it's not so great at forming totally new relationships. And so FarmVille, dependent as it is on the Facebook model, fails at one of the most important tasks of farming - growing community.

"Just compare FarmVille (where you rely on existing friends to help manage your plot) to Alemany Farm, the four-acre organic garden in San Francisco I help manage. Every weekend, people from across the Bay Area show up at the farm to volunteer. Our volunteers are gay and straight, toddlers and septuagenarians, Black, White, Asian, Latino, eco-punks and boho professionals. Strangers meet each other, bond, and become friends united by a shared passion. In any given workday at the farm, new relationships are created among diverse peoples as they get to know each other face-to-face. Over time, those relationships, soldered by the sweat of hard work, become the bonds of community.

"Of course, that's not the only advantage actual gardening has over the virtual kind. For starters, you get to be outside, and even as you work, you relax, restored by the reconnection to natural systems. And at the end of the day you get the reward of the take-home salad and the sun-warmed strawberry.

"So if you're a FarmVille player, consider this screed an invitation: Drop the mouse. Pick up a spade. Leave the screen and come out into the sun. Get a taste of what it's like to be part of the physical world."

- Change.org Columnist Jason Mark encourages Farmville players to experience the more tangible joys of real farming.
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