I stumbled upon a new obsession over the holidays. Like many others in this digital age, I’ve become addicted to the latest web-based craze. It’s a wonderful social networking site that allows me to keep tabs on my friends and have oodles of fun.
My wife set up a Facebook account several months ago and I was curious about the whole concept. I went to her page to check it out, but was disappointed to find somebody had thrown a snowball at her. I didn’t want to be bullied around like that, so I decided that Facebook wasn’t for me.
A few weeks ago I happened upon my son in our office, and he was online in what appeared to be a magical wonderland, filled with games and wonderful prizes.
“What's this, buddy?” I asked.
“It’s Webkinz, Daddy. This is my monkey. His name is Bananas.”
“What do you mean it’s your monkey?”
“I got him for my birthday! Don’t you remember?” he quipped.
Apparently the kid’s been playing on this website since last July. I tend not to ask questions when the boy is quiet and leaving me alone. It seems those random spots of peace and quiet over the past few months were when he had escaped to this Internet paradise.
If you’re not familiar with Webkinz, let me fill you in. You have to purchase a Webkinz stuffed animal at the store and that little bag of beans comes with an online password to be used at Webkinz.com.
Each animal comes with its own home page, which is basically a bedroom. The child (or large man) is responsible for the animal’s wellbeing. The kids are supposed to feed it, play with it, and even take it to the doctor’s when necessary. At first, I only popped in on my son when he called for help with a game. I quickly became intrigued by our responsibility to feed this monkey. I started to wonder what would happen if we didn’t feed him? Would he perish?
That night, after my son was fast asleep, I logged onto his site and left it up running. I smiled devilishly as Bananas’ food bar slowly dwindled. I would check back every 15 minutes to see how far it had gone down. I played a few games with him in an effort to further sap his energy. I chuckled as the little guy appeared to have fallen ill. His face became flushed and strained as he pouted.
I thought of my son as I looked over all the food items he had purchased and stored for Bananas. It would have only taken a few mouse clicks to nourish the poor monkey, but I was too curious.
I let him starve.
I wanted to see if he would eventually start twitching around on the ground or something. I figured I could feed him at the last minute. If he passed away, I intended to play dumb.
After watching television for an hour I returned to find my wife in the office.
“What are you doing?” I asked quickly.
“Oh, nothing. Wyatt just left his Webkinz up, he hasn’t been feeding the poor little guy,” she said.
I intervened quickly as she started to drag a carrot toward the monkey with her mouse, “No! Don’t do it!”
“Don’t do what?” she asked, “I’m just feeding him and closing…..”
“I wanted to see what would happen!” I interrupted.
“What? Have you been playing with…..are you trying to kill Bananas!”
“I would have fed him eventually!”
“You are sick. Why would you want to kill your child’s digital friend?”
I guess I’m a little ashamed. I’ve been making it up to bananas ever since though. While my son has become less interested, Bananas and I have become best of chums. We’ve been hanging out nearly every day. We even made some really cool friends online, like DunkyChunks and TommyTheTraveler.
I’ve been winning big money for Bananas by dominating all the challenges. I’ve decked out his room with a baseball bed, a big screen TV and a bunch of new games. We’ve been playing checkers and air hockey for hours on end.
Bless Bananas’ little heart, as my attempted murder seems to be water under the bridge. No need to worry, as he’s been eating great. After each meal, I always make sure to give him extra desserts. He really seems to enjoy it, but I’m not sure if they’re very healthy for him.
Hmm….I wonder what would happen if I fed him nothing but cakes and pies? I wonder if he would get really fat and sick? I wonder if his heart would explode?