07/03/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Morning Farmers! It's Another Beautiful Farmville Day!

Cecily: When I see a spade I call it a spade.
Gwendolyn: I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different.
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest.

It is likely that many of the 81 million active participants in the wildly popular Facebook game Farmville have something in common with Gwendolyn Fairfax. Perhaps they have planted a geranium or two and have a pot of basil on the back deck, but it is doubtful that they are familiar with a wide variety of farm implements. I may be wrong, but I imagine that few people who actually spend their lives farming want to pretend to plow a field off hours.

Full disclosure: I'm a city girl with an imaginary farm in my head, and a fancy one at that. Dutch Belted cattle, Araucana chickens and La Mancha goats graze happily on Susan's Sheltered Acres. And so, I tip toed into Farmville. You? Have you ever taken a look at these storybook agricultural nirvanas? The cows are grass fed, the chickens pasture raised. The crops are flourishing in perfectly straight lines, and they always get enough sun. There are no harmful pests in Farmville, no molds, no manure. There are no predators of any kind, in fact, and the roses are always in bloom. It rains at precisely the right time in this south facing Camelot. I'm not certain yet if you can enter a Farmville farmhouse, but I know that if you can apple pies from organic apple trees are baking in the oven. They smell great, and will be delicious with cream whipped from the milk of the cows nibbling outside the door. At night, with constellations you can actually name filling the clear sky, silence makes sleeping in the cozy, comfortable old brass farm bed nothing short of heaven, until the big ol' Araucana rooster calls you to begin another blissful day.

That is the lure of Farmville - it is heaven on earth. Buy a puppy! (From a reputable breeder - no puppy mills in FV, and no homeless pets either.) Buy a bushel of corn! (No GM seeds here. Monsanto filed Chapter 11.) OK, so those are from my visions of heaven, but each one of the 81 million participants has his or her own.

Relaxing online with a game is no different than solving a crossword puzzle or watching Law and Order. And yet, Farmville strikes me as an unusual kind of diversion, because we may have become so disconnected with our food supply that farming has become a fantasy. Mafia Wars. Sorority Girls. Farmville.

The irony is that the pastoral vision created by Farmville is close to fantasy - there are very few small farmers left in America, and the factory farms that have replaced them are quite unappealing. If you go to the cornfields of southern Indiana, for example, the crops grow in a Farmville like weed-free environment, but that's due to all of the glyphosate sprayed on the soil. (That's the purpose behind genetically modifying the corn seeds - It enables them to survive herbicides and pesticides so deadly that every other living thing in the environment dies.) Cattle don't graze - they are fed the corn. Visit a factory chicken farm and you won't see any chickens, because you won't be allowed inside the tightly crowded windowless coops where lights are left on 24/7 to increase laying capacity. No rooster greets the dawn, because dawn never comes.

And so, best return to the fantasy. There is something so wholesome about bringing imaginary bushels of sprouts to the farmer's market. I have to believe that if those senior level SEC guys were visiting Farmville as the economy was collapsing around them instead of downloading every porn site they could find, they wouldn't have made headline news. After all, how intriguing is "SEC Watchdogs trade border collies"?

If you have ever visited Farmville, please let me know. Better yet, let me know why, or if you would like to buy a baby llama.

Susan Yager

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