Yes, I do play Angry Birds on my phone. Yes, I get a kick out of it. I’m sure there are better games, or smarter games, or games that will teach me more, but I understand Angry Birds and the clever variations.
One of my better characteristics is my ability to concentrate, get work done, and stick to a project till it is finished. Like all good characteristics, this one can flow into a bad habit by turning up the volume just a tiny bit. The trigger for me is that perfectionist streak I will fight for the rest of my life.
Because I am competitive, I want to play each segment not just till I’ve scored a star, but until I get three stars (the highest score.) I won’t leave a group of games until I’ve got three stars in all of them. It makes the whole game last longer and it is a (fake) ego boost. Not one I can put on a resume. Not one that I want to brag about. But it’s all in good fun. Until it isn’t. Just like feeding a Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or anything-else-addiction, a game addiction brings out the rationalizer.
“It’s good to play, it sharpens your reflexes.”
“It’s good to have fun after a long day working.”
“It’s another way to stave off Alzheimer’s.”
Of course, the night I stayed up until 3 a.m. to get three stars in a whole suite of games, it felt good until I quit because my arms were asleep. As the pins and needles raced up and down my arms I wondered just how smart it was to be doing this so relentlessly. Yes, I used to read books like this, too, but at least I’d read a book when I was done.
The next day, the game seemed a bit unstable, and then, I scored in a section I had not been able to win three stars. The shot was perfect. Yes! Except the screen froze before the points were added. I tried all the things one does, but the game was frozen. I downloaded it again, hoping that would solve the problem. The game came back, but all the stars were gone. I’d have to start from the beginning. Navigate the hard ones I’d already done once before. Prove myself again. Ugh, this wasn’t a game, this was like real life. Without the evil pigs.
I felt like throwing a tantrum. This wasn’t fair! I’d earned those stars! And then, slowly, a voice whispered from my heart, “You could have spent this time differently. No, no, not working or earning money, but walking, experimenting with the new markers, or sitting on the balcony reading. Maybe this is a good time to re-evaluate your attachment to games.”
I hate it when my heart is reasonable. I hate it when it’s right at the time I want it to agree with me. Angry Birds doesn’t have to be wiped from my phone. It pretty much did that already. Much like my tendency to think I’m hungry when all I need is a drink of water, I need to have something at hand to do when I want to relax. Something soul-nourishing. Something fun.
Come to think of it, I can’t believe I have those markers lying on my desk and I haven’t tried them out yet.
—Quinn McDonald has fast fingers and a wise heart she wish she listened to more often.