I am sitting right now in front of my iMac.
Nothing has changed since the past 2 years.
My iMac sits in front of me.
Around me are my other gadgets — my iPhone, iPad & Samsung Smart Phone.
And inside those gadgets are 100’s of apps actively sending me notifications or doing whatever they can to get my attention.
Suddenly I see an advert flash across Faceook.
It starts with “Play this game for FREE”
After all, no one lost anything when playing or doing anything for FREE right?
And FREE has become an accepted norm today.
Email = FREE
Social Media = FREE
Sharing Pictures = FREE
Listening to music = FREE
Watching Videos = FREE
So isn’t it nice that even games are = FREE!
I think to myself
Jeez, these are such nice, kindhearted, loving, charitable, selfless & sweet multinational giants that love me so much — SO SO SO SO SOOOO MUCH — that they are prepared to give me all their hard-work, creativity & hundreds dollars worth of services for FREE!!!
Isn’t it nice to know that a visionary or a founder spent Millions of dollars just to keep an unknown like you whom no one cares about, talks about or is even bothered about — but is given so many incredible services for FREE?!?!
And with that misguided assumption — I eagerly start checking out the game.
The game begins by giving me simple but fun tasks — for which I get yet a FREE virtual gift. And then I constantly get congratulated and reminded how amazingly smart I am!
Of course….I’m glad someone noticed!
Oh look……another FREE virtual gift.
And I have climbed one more level!
And before you know it — the game congratulates asks me for my name & yes my FACEBOOK account (Nothing to worry about… They give me their terms & conditions which is around…er…. 400 pages long…. I scroll through it super fast & click “accept”…) I’m so glad these apps care about my gaming experience so much that they even asked for my FB login.
I click yes.
Now I start seeing very happy characters, lively music & gorgeous environments with amazing colors & graphics. My score keeps increasing and I keep climbing some ‘global’ ranks as a global player.
Oh guess what — I got another extra special bonus for FREE!!!
Such an amazing game.
So easy, so entertaining, so simple.
Just what I needed.
The most incredible part of it all is that this game is for FREE!
As I started playing it more and more, I enjoyed it more and more and now I wanted to play it even more.
I keep climbing higher up the levels, until suddenly I reach a level which I cannot complete.
I keep fighting.
But I am unable to get through.
Soon I realize, in order to go to the next stage — I needs a few upgrades.
I search and find out there are 2 options.
- I can get these amazing upgrades for FREE but which I will have to play after 4 hours. OR
- I can pay 428 virtual currencies and get it now.
I wonder….A very strange number… why 428? why not 400? or say a rounded figure like 500?
Anyways — who cares.
I check my virtual balance —hmmm… I have only 214.
So I have a choice.
Wait for 4 hours or
Ah… let’s see how much are these so called ‘virtual currencies’
I don’t have patience.
I am enjoying the moment.
I deserve to have fun.
So I click on ‘virtual currencies’ payment to see the various payment options.
$1 USD — 1,000 virtual currencies
$10 USD — 10,000 virtual currencies + 2,000 extra FREE
$100 USD — 100,000 virtual currencies + 50,000 extra FREE
I think to myself ‘$1 USD is hardly anything. I have spend much more on dining outside. So what the hell. Let me pay $1 USD for now.After all, I am not addicted to this game. Its just for fun.’
I pay $1 USD.
The amount gets credited.
I play for some more time more
I enjoy the game even more
My virtual character is now becoming the best in the world. And then…..something happens….
The game once again informs me
“Please come back later as now your virtual character needs to take ‘rest’.
Are you crazy?
I was so enjoying the moment….And now this?
Its like I was about to have an orgasm and then my partner suddenly stated ‘No Stop.”
I hate that!
But then another pop up comes and informs me — if I pay USD $1, I can recharge my virtual character!
So bloody irritating!
I don’t want this USD $1 notification every single time!
You want money?
Who the hell cares?
I deserve to have fun!
I want to enjoy life!
So fuck all this ‘character needs to take rest’
I take out my credit card dump $100 for peace of mind — get my 100,000 virtual currencies + 50,000 extra FREE!!!
Ah…the precious FREE extras….
This goes on…..
And this is the reality of the FREE economy today.
From games, to apps to softwares — the FREE version is designed to do just one thing — Keep you addicted to it without you realizing how much money you are shelling out.
With the odd numbers of virtual currencies versus points versus how much you are getting per dollar especially given that you pay via your credit card — makes the creators of these games know one thing for a fact — if they keep the game exciting enough, unpredictable enough and rewarding enough with FREE virtual points, avatars & gimmicks YOU & I will be back for more.
And on top of that you also have those precious extra bonuses which they keep showing you, reminding you that if you sign in every day — you will get this precious little extra bonus for FREE.
How do I know this?
Because I am a gaming addict and whatever it is that they are doing — works 100%.
The incredible feeling of achievement, the rewards, the stimulation — its drives me nuts! And on top of all that — I am also incredibly competitive. I am super obsessed about winning. And I love seeing progress. And if you factor in that they create online communities, groups where messages & information can be shared & where there is peer pressure to do better than each other — it is a VERY DANGEROUS combination.
Well, in my case over $18,000 dangerous.
Because this is the total amount I have spent on online games.
And if you want to hear something even more stupid — In one day — just one, I spent over $5,400 just to “upgrade” my virtual avatar to be stronger.
For some of you who are non-gamers, you may not only find this shocking, you may be wonder “who the hell spends this kind of money on a virtual game?”
There are millions of people out there who are addicts like me.
If there weren’t such high numbers — do you seriously think such companies would spend millions of dollars, countless number of hours and go through so much of pain, research and creativity — for nothing?
“In 2016 the average buyer of video games was 36 years old and mostly male.” And in that article, it also shows a diagram where the annual sales of such games is 30.4 BILLION USD!!!
Today corporations & companies do not care or offer you FREE services because they love and care about you. Since when did Capitalism & Corporate Greed give way to the benefit of mankind?
You and I my friend are not so special that anyone has to give even a penny for FREE. If Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Google or any other company on the planet is giving you something for FREE — they are taking something even more valuable, precious and important in return. And it can be anything from your Private data to selling your data to someone else in exchange for money.
As I write this article Mark Zuckerberg is being questioned by Capitol Hill about Privacy issues Facebook has. You know the funny thing — it is not just Facebook but Google, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat, Twitter, Linkedin and every possible app on the planet — who are also guilty of doing this. The funny thing is because the influential people whom Donald Trump pissed off with the politics, all this came out in the open. They want him out and they are ready to dig up anything that would connect the dots to him. That’s why Facebook’s fiasco was brought out into the open. Otherwise, you think anyone would have been bothered?
I can challenge you one thing — Even the FBI, CIA, the Special Task forces and all the governments of all the countries around the world are doing the same thing. Just that no one wants to admit it.
I have realized one thing — if I have to conquer my addiction, I have only one course of action. And that is throw out my iPad, get rid of my iPhone, sell off my Samsung Phone, get a software that only allows me to focus on work related apps & websites and get a Nokia that only allows me to make calls.
That would work.
But then what would I do the day I get bored again?
When that itch starts again?
When some other company manages to wriggle its way into my life, get my attention and exploit my weakness — then what do I do?
Yes, I know I am an Addict. And if I kill this addiction — another one will pop up.
So whats the solution?
No idea mate……
I doubt unless you and I crawl under a rock and live without the internet, civilization & all its day-to-day occurrences we can overcome this phenomenon….Because if you have discovered how to overcome addiction permanently — well I am all ears…
However until then...given that I wrote so much…
Let me to get back to my game.