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When used in moderation and in the ways it was originally intended to be used, Facebook can be the greatest thing in the world. As nice as it would be to talk to everyone you haven’t seen in a while on the phone, it’s really not possible (or attractive) for most people to do. Facebook fills the conversational void pretty nicely (and minimizes the awkward pauses on the phone when you realize this person who you haven’t talked to in forever is much less interesting than you thought they used to be).

For some people, though, just staying in touch with old friends is never enough. Some people have a lot more time to waste, and they don’t want to move off their couches to do it. So what are we talking about today? You may have seen them in your local Target store, or this may be an entirely new idea to you. Either way, I urge you to read on. I’m talking about “Facebook Credits.” Here they are now:

So what are they? Well, the idea is that you go into your local Target store with real money, bring this to the register, and give away all of that real money away to take it home with you… Essentially, you’re trading real money that can be spent in so many different places for fake money that can be spent in one virtual place… Facebook.

Most of you will beg the question, “But, how do you even spend money on Facebook?” If you asked this question, you passed the “normal person” test, and I applaud you. For the rest of you… you and I know exactly where you can spend these Facebook credits: Zynga’s epic time waster “Farmville.” Apparently, this $15 “Facebook Credits” card can be applied directly to your Facebook account to be used on a variety of Facebook Games and Applications, most notably Farmville. And that’s it. Nowhere else.

The philosophy is basically, “Well, I could just keep my options open and use real money that I can use anywhere (including Farmville), or I could limit myself to just Farmville with Facebook credits so I’m forced to spend copious amounts of time away from my children to raise a family of computer-generated farm cats. I wouldn’t have ever guessed this, because I have (perhaps too much) faith in the human race, but a lot of people choose the latter option. Talk about putting all your eggs in one basket.

So, instead of going to the grocery store and buying real corn, carrots and onions that you can enjoy, taste, and sustain the lives of your children with, you can instead use that money you would have spent on your family’s well-being to plant a virtual field of corn, carrots and onions that everyone on Facebook can see… and by everyone I mean the sad, lonely people who spend their time looking at other people’s Farmville farms.

Instead of putting this money towards a brand new car that you can use to drive around the country with your best friends, you can instead put it towards a Farmville tractor that you (or, more specifically, your avatar) can drive around your poorly-animated virtual farm to make sure those “ghost beans” get harvested before the virtual rabbit population quadruples and devours your entire crop (and they will. ohhh they will).

And people wonder why the American dollar is so worthless these days. Our money used to be backed by Gold, a real, solid, beautiful substance forged by the earth itself. Now, our money is backed by millions of acres of online farms run by the least motivated on America’s unemployment line.

Why are people buying these? Well, as real life is met by greater hardships and sharper disappointments, more and more people move to online worlds to help them forget about their real lives and do cool things. Some of those people, for whatever reason, choose farming instead of much cooler worlds where you can do much cooler things.

Their hope is that virtual reality is only a few years away. When it arrives, they’ll be able to go live on those farms they’ve built up for real (well… not really for real, but in your mind’s eye… it’s kind of real). They’ll have all of the domesticated animals, made-up vegetables, and saucy farm wives they could ever want.

What they don’t realize, however, is that all of their money will now be tied up in Facebook credits, a currency that is not, and will never be able to buy you real food. Since they sacrificed all of their real life friends for their farms, no one will be there to help them out when they run out. Most will starve right in their computer chairs while their little avatars have more ears of corn and more bails of wheat than all of the hungry people in the world could ever eat. Irony at its finest.

My point? Real life isn’t all that bad. If you really want to own a farm that badly, work hard, find a fertile piece of land and a decent wife and go do it. You might even do well enough that you make some real money that you can buy real things with. I know. Sounds crazy, right?

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