Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Candy Crush Epidemic

I just heard on the news that a game called Candy Crush, offered by the firm, King, is about to enter the stock market, valued at $5 billion. Addiction is no laughing matter, but about Candy Crush, I sometimes giggle.

Why are baby boomers and not just Generations X,Y, and Z playing this game? Why am I playing it anytime I have a moment to spare? I feel ashamed thinking about how I am outing myself, hoping that this confession doesn’t ruin my career or prompt people to judge me harshly.

Candy Crush is a free, mobile phone game although you can pay money for hints. I am proud to say that I have never paid one cent to the game.

The researcher, B.F. Skinner, once marveled at how erratic or intermittent reinforcement kept rats coming back for more rewards far more often than did consistent reinforcement. This happens in CC. At times very frustrated, I have screamed at my phone when I have gotten stuck. But, then when I succeed, I feel so skillful, talented and generally good about myself. Is this an illusion? If so, no wonder we “addicts” keep coming back for more.
Candy Crush is highly entertaining while we wait in our worlds: in grocery lines, at airports, and in doctors’ offices. I make deals with myself, much like bargaining with God, that if I work hard for a few hours, I can play Candy Crush.

I have never sat still for very long at a time, but now that I play Candy Crush, I can sit very still until the game itself times me out. I listen to the news or music while playing. This game is like a powerful drug and its sounds are also exciting.

When our daughter came home from college recently, she didn’t understand why her mother was sitting on the couch in the evenings, eyes glued to the phone, at times praising herself and at other times, yelling. I feared she might set up an intervention. I am not proud of my once enticing her to play the game but she didn’t follow my compulsive pattern, thank goodness.

Candy Crush is handy any time you want to have fun and you don’t even have to be in a boring meeting to enjoy it. You can play on mute so no one ever knows if you are taking notes on your phone, or just looking at Facebook or email, unless your murmurings of glee slip out when moving to the next level.

Candy Crush is not for everyone. So, unless you are retired, or are between jobs, or have a lot of time on your hands, beware. You too could get clutched by the claws of Candy Crush and you could lose your family, your career and all that is important to you. Maybe investing in CC is a far better activity.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Collaboration and Connection

The new buzz words are Collaboration and Connection. In the past, Competition and Winning reigned. The times, they are a’ changing.

In the past, Rachel Botsman coined the term, Collaborative Consumption in a TedX talk ( She highlighted the benefits of our joining together and sharing our products, tools, and skills just like when we lived in communities with extended families. For instance, instead of buying a lawnmower individually, and using it once weekly, we might ask a few neighbors if they want to pool their resources and buy a lawnmower that we can share. How much less expensive and more cooperative life might be.

Ms. Botsman reported that the 20th century was about individual consumption and the 21st century is about sharing. We have collected so much stuff that our garages and closets are bursting. Now, we may be moving from separation and waste to creating a more sustainable community that meets our inner needs without giving up our lifestyles and our freedoms. But, for many people, letting go of or sharing stuff is hard.

Not only do some companies rent cars, bicycles, and cleaning services, we can also sell and trade our stuff individually if we trust each other. Recycling stores for clothes, furniture, sports equipment and all sorts of other products have been around for years. I often buy recycled clothes and then give them to Goodwill, rather than buying brand new ones. We have prided ourselves on what is mine but maybe we are shifting to see the beauty of giving away, sharing, trading and bartering.

Our current technology gives us quick and easy results. Think about eBay and Facebook. Technology helps us stay connected with others. I am part of some email list serves where people share referrals, services, products, and emotional support. What a wealth of information at our fingertips! Instead of focusing primarily on ourselves and our families, we can participate in collectively helping our community, moving toward what is ours not just mine.

People now share jobs, child care, YouTube videos, homes and even pets, and don’t always use money for the exchange. As I observe my mother living in a retirement community, I see great benefits like sharing meals, conversation, activities, transportation, and more. Collaboration also makes good economic sense.

We have collaborated for years. We pay taxes to help our government build highways, supply us with services like fire and police departments, libraries and schools. How else can we collaborate and connect with others?

There are many lonely people in the world, some who feel isolated, depressed and despairing. They sometimes don’t know how to reach out to others. If we collaborate more as a common style of living, perhaps we won’t be as solitary and self-involved as we have been. Maybe in giving to and sharing with others, we can help each other as well as help ourselves.